Provide the assistance to Middle School students to grow into the leaders they are meant to become.
Saturday trips to the ice cream shop, and parks full of laughing kids is not the depiction of life in Bethel, Ohio. Unfortunately, the Bethel community's poverty rate is hovering at 14.5% with 41% of the homes being occupied by a single parent. A staggering 53% of the moms in the Bethel community only range from 20 to 24 years old. 42% of the students are receiving free or reduced lunch. The reality of Bethel, Ohio is weekend food bags for school children, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and foster children in temporary placements.
The children of Bethel who are growing up in under-resourced homes are at risk in several fundamental areas; emotional and social challenges, cognitive lags, and health and safety issues. The reality of deficits in these areas can cause an avalanche of unhappy life events, including poor academic performance, behavioral problems, dropping out of school, drug abuse, adoption of risky behavior, disease, and in the worst cases, early death.
The State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program funding will make it possible for the Safety Net program to acquire the resources necessary to provide the support children of Bethel so desperately need to help them change their future narrative. The funding will allow for the hiring of a part time education leader to write impactful lessons for the large group leadership workshops which will provide the students with the tools they need to create their positive future stories. The education leader will also coordinate curriculum that will be used in the small groups, recruit academic tutors, and provide training for the teachers and small group leaders. In tandem with the in-school programming, the education leader will use the funding to create after school programing to address the student's additional social issues along with time to explore their true potential, through open discussions, community service opportunities, career exploration and cultural outings.
If we invest in the students at the middle level, a healthy adolescence is the cornerstone of a lifetime of success. Bethel community's lifelong handicaps and troubles will cease to be passed from generation to generation. There will be a higher graduation rate, with students who have a clear direction of where their strengths will take them. Graduates will use their talents to revitalize the community. The teenage pregnancy rate will drop because the youth will have their emotional needs addressed and will not have the need to seek out attention in that manner. The once antisocial behavior that plagues the community will dissipate. Homelessness will become eradicated from the community because future generations will have written their positive future stories and will know how to implement them.
Not only will this grant have a significant impact on the Bethel, Ohio community, but it will act as a pilot program that we can implement in all middle schools in Appalachia Ohio.