A vital port on the renowned Mississippi River, the city of New Orleans is steeped in culture and history. Even so, areas of this historic city have long struggled with poverty and its socioeconomic effects. The neighborhoods surrounding the Success Preparatory Academy are no exception. Located in a very old and run-down section of New Orleans, abandoned and boarded-up homes line the streets, most dating back to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, serving as an outward sign of the daily struggles that residents face.
As a result of these circumstances, the Success Preparatory Academy serves as a beacon of hope and a safe haven for children living in New Orleans. Its friendly and professional staff creates a warm, welcoming environment where children feel secure – a sentiment that they may not experience in their difficult home lives – and receive a well-rounded education.
Higher education is the focus
Located on Bienville Street in the Lower Mid-City/Treme neighborhood, not far from the historic French Quarter, the Success Preparatory Academy offers children a curriculum that prepares them for college; and it is complemented by a variety of after-school activities, because the administration believes that even before children reach high school, it is important to emphasize the importance of higher education to them, so that they will have more opportunities to succeed in the future.
Eighty-seven percent of the children that attend the Success Preparatory Academy come from low-income families. Children are required to wear uniforms there – khaki pants or skirts. The uniforms consist of polo shirts with the school logo, and they are color-coded by grades: kindergarten through grade five wear maroon, sixth and seventh grades wear navy, and eighth-graders wear gray. Students are allowed to wear college sweatshirts of any color over their uniform shirts. Children Incorporated provides our sponsored and unsponsored kids with these sweatshirts.
Since the Success Preparatory Academy embraces a focus on college preparation, university banners from across the country decorate the halls. Teachers adorn their classrooms with items and colors from the universities that they attended. On certain days, the students may wear college tee shirts if they’ve been receiving good grades and have been behaving well.
A need for fresh fruits and vegetables
Our volunteer coordinator at the school is Rachel. On a recent visit to the Success Preparatory Academy, Rachel told our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, that her greatest need at the school is help with basic necessities – especially with offering fresh produce to the children. She said that the sponsored and unsponsored kids there love fresh fruit, but that most don’t ever have any in their homes; and the corner stores in their neighborhoods don’t sell them. There is a “food desert” in the middle of a bustling city.
Since the Success Preparatory Academy embraces a focus on college preparation, university banners from across the country decorate the halls.
A food desert is an area where fresh fruits and vegetables are not available. Large parts of New Orleans – specifically the poorer sections – don’t have grocery stores. Instead, they have corner markets where one can purchase snacks and some canned goods, but not nutritious whole foods.
“If families have transportation barriers or illnesses, or mobility problems or other obstacles to getting out of their neighborhoods, what they’re limited to are these little corner stores,” said Renée. “For thousands of families, fresh fruits and vegetables just can’t be found.”
Helping to keep the water running
While visiting the school, Renée also had the chance to meet with one of our sponsored children, Ricky*, who has a special sponsor that supports him well beyond sponsorship. With the additional money that his sponsor sends, Rachel has had the opportunity to purchase an entire winter wardrobe and a laptop computer for Ricky. The money has also helped Ricky’s mom to pay their water bill down so that their water would not be turned off, which was a huge help to his family. Last holiday season, Ricky’s sponsor purchased a Thanksgiving meal – from the paper products to the pecan pie – for his entire family.
Ricky’s mom is so thankful for the assistance that he receives. As a single mother raising her kids and grandkids, she tries hard to make ends meet – but it is really difficult for her to generate enough income to support everyone. According to Rachel, Ricky’s mom says that the Children Incorporated program has changed the lives of her entire family.
*Name changed for child’s protection.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN NEW ORLEANS?
You can sponsor a child in New Orleans in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.