Tag Archives: Children Incorporated

Cardozo Educational Campus is now Children Incorporated’s longest affiliated site in Washington, D.C. It is also our only affiliated site in Ward 1. This ward has a rich architectural and cultural heritage. It is a true melting pot, with immigrants from all over the world. It is the modern heart of the city’s Hispanic/Latino community. It is also home to many of the city’s African American and Asian American small businesses. This ward has 12 historic districts, and its landmarks include Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo.

The school has been renovated in more recent years and can house over 1000 students.

One of the architectural treasures is the Cardozo Education Campus. It began its historic renovation in 2011, which included exterior renovation, roofing, HVAC, ADA improvements, technology design and sustainable design. It can house 1100 students.

About Cardozo

Cardozo Education Campus currently serves about 625 students from sixth to 12th grade. It has a middle school, an International Academy, and a comprehensive high school. Students come from many backgrounds, from those born in Washington, D.C., to students from Central and South America. This diverse population makes Cardozo very special. The school’s demographics are 49% black, 46% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Asian, 1% white, and 1% other.

There are AP classes, Army JROTC, sports, and arts and cultural clubs and activities. One of the most interesting things about Cardozo is its TransSTEM Academy. Students receive hands-on technical training in electricity, electronics, and electromechanical technology. There is also a pre-engineering module where students can explore aeronautics, biomechanics, and other applied math science occupations and skills.

The children who are enrolled in our sponsorship program are the ones who need the most support. This includes providing them with clothing, school supplies, hygiene products and food.

Cardozo has two Communities In Schools site coordinators, Jovan and Florangel. After arriving at the school for our meeting, Kristen Walthall and I heard from both Jovan and Florangel, who explained that CIS plans ahead when it comes to running our sponsorship program. Starting every March, they conduct needs assessments with the families. Over summer break, they analyze the results and discuss any adjustments to current initiatives or the creation of new ones.

Meeting with our coordinators

At Cardozo, their two biggest goals are currently in-seat attendance and academics. The students have many stressors and competing priorities. Some must care for younger siblings. Some are essentially homeless and they couch-surf with friends and relatives. Regular school attendance isn’t always a priority. Jovan and Florangel offer incentives for the students to come to school each day. They also work on parent engagement. The children who are enrolled in our sponsorship program are the ones who need the most support. This includes providing them with clothing, school supplies, hygiene products and food.

The interior courtyard of the Cardozo Education Campus

During our meeting, Robert,* a sixth grader, was brought in to meet us as a student body representative. This was no doubt due to his outgoing personality. Robert didn’t have a shy bone in his body. He had no problem chatting with Kris and me, and it was lovely to meet him as one of our sponsored children.

After Robert returned to class, it was time to tour this beautifully restored school that offers so much for the children. We toured the International Academy hall first. It was founded in 2014 through a partnership with D.C. Public Schools and the International Network for Public Schools (INPS) in NYC. According to the school’s website, “The academic model is based on decades of proven, research-based instructional approaches designed to work with recently arrived immigrant students. Students are grouped into teams and travel as a cohort throughout the day. Through the International Academy, students experience a complete integration of language and content development, heterogeneous grouping and ongoing collaboration, strategic use of students’ native/dominant language when working with peers, as well as the intentional bridging of the student’s native language and the target language of English.” We also saw classrooms, the gymnasium, and the beautiful interior courtyard of the school.

In Florangel’s words

After our tour ended, Florangel told Kris and I more about how our program helps children at Cardozo:

 “Some of the challenges that Cardozo has faced are receiving students from Venezuela. Many students live at shelters and have recently arrived in the United States. Welcoming new migrant students has been challenging, but not impossible, in connecting each student to the right services. Students can connect to the health clinic and receive clothes and shoes from our partners, like Children Incorporated.”

Florangel also shared a sweet story about two of our sponsored children:

Seth and Lewis* are both newly arrived in the United States. They both have parents who requested resources immediately so Seth and Lewis could feel comfortable attending school. One of the items they both received was a coat. The students and their families have never experienced the cold weather, so they had expressed concern about how the weather would be during the wintertime. Seth likes to play soccer, so we were able to provide soccer clothes. Lewis enjoys dancing, so we provided new shoes for him. Many more students and parents have expressed gratitude for things they cannot afford or help while working to save money.

*Names changed to protect the children.

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How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renee Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renee's stories

As he continues visiting our affiliated sites in India, Luis Bourdet visits the Grace Aaron Childcare Center, where students are very happy to be present.

“The town of Burgampahad, in the southeastern Indian state of Telangana, is where the Grace Aaron Childcare Center is located,” explained Luis Bourdet.

“Within this rice-producing region, which is susceptible to crop-destroying flooding and droughts, thousands of field laborers earn very low wages. Due to widespread poverty, only some parents can send their children to school. For this reason, the Grace Aaron Childcare Center serves as a beacon of hope. Founded by the Church of South India, this center provides nutritional and educational support for girls from the region’s most impoverished families.”

Luis meets with our coordinator

“Grace Aaron was a hostel in the past, and children used to live here as our sponsorship program supported them. Flooding from the nearby Godavari river has affected the facilities a few times, and a new disposition of the local government, where children could not stay at private hostels unless a school is present within the compound, has turned this facility into a childcare center,” said Luis.

“The children love to be here, and they welcomed me with some interesting local dances and a display of henna markings in their hands that were very impressive.”

“Mrs. J. Jesantha, a coordinator of the Dornakal Girls Hostel before, is now the person in charge at Grace Aaron. The building where the dorms used to be is now utilized as classrooms and a dining hall, with a new area/building being the main area for classroom work, meetings and homework.”

“The pandemic had something to do with the transformation of this facility as well, as parents migrated to the town but had no way to support their children and send them to school. The schedule here is busy as usual, and the children arrive at the center every day very early in the morning and are given breakfast and sent to a nearby school,” said Luis.

“In the afternoon, after returning from school, they are given lunch and dinner, provided with homework help and some recreational activities, and sent home after 7 p.m. The children love to be at the Grace Aaron Center, and they welcomed me with some interesting local dances and a display of henna markings on their hands that were very impressive. They are very grateful for their sponsors as well, expressing much gratitude for the support they receive, which ensures that they have school supplies, food, and other necessary items throughout the year.”

“After meeting the coordinator about the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, I then had a delicious meal with plenty of dhal, which is a favorite food of mine, before finishing my visit to this wonderful affiliation,” said Luis.

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How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Shelley Callahan

Shelley is the Director of Development for Children Incorporated. She is also the lead social correspondent, regularly contributing insights through the Stories of Hope blog series. Sign up for Stories of Hope to receive weekly email updates about how your donations are changing the lives of children in need.

» more of Shelley's stories

Arlie Boggs is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school. It has a small population of just 128 students. It’s located in the community of Eolia, which is in the southeastern part of the county. It’s in a very rural area, sandwiched between Bad Branch State Nature Preserve and the Virginia state line. There is a lot of poverty in this community – 84% of the children come from low-income families. The children are also struggling academically. The test scores average just 33% in reading and 17% in math.

This is an older school that sits on a hill right next to the road. In the foreground is the Family Resource Youth Services Center trailer. This is a new affiliation with a new volunteer coordinator, Miranda. When I arrived, Miranda welcomed me warmly and offered to give me a tour. We walked around the building and grounds, talking all the way. Miranda showed me the STLP [Student Technology Leadership Program] station. She is the faculty/staff sponsor for this program, which teaches participating students to use technology to help their fellow students. Miranda helps the students with their broadcasts to the classrooms.

We then entered the middle school wing of the building. Like most kindergarten through 8th grade schools, the older children and younger children have their own separate areas. The playground is behind the school, at the top of a hill, and is usually accessed by these stairs. After a recent storm caused downed branches and some damage, caution tape was put up and the stairs cannot be used until repairs can be made. In the meantime, the children access the playground by taking a longer walk to the far end of the grounds, climbing the hill, and going in the far gate. The greenhouse needs hand tools, soil, seedlings and other supplies and Miranda is interested in applying for a Hope In Action Program grant.

Also during the tour, Miranda took me to the office of the two workers with Partners for Rural Impact. I had not yet heard of the organization. They explained its mission is to ensure rural students have the opportunity to fulfill their educational aspirations. The organization is presently working in three states: East Texas, Appalachian Kentucky and New Hampshire. In the first two states, the organization offers a “Cradle to Career” Partnership and in New Hampshire, the organization offers a statewide Family Engagement Center. In Kentucky, the organization is partnering with Arlie Boggs, and Miranda said that two workers were placed at the school to collaborate with her on many goals and they are mutually supportive. I plan to learn more about this organization.

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How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renee Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renee's stories

It is amazing to us what our volunteer coordinators can do to help children in need when given the freedom to determine what is best for children in our program, which is something we are proud to offer to them. Today we hear from Scott at Lewis County Middle and High Schools, about some of his students who benefited from our sponsorship program in a way that he feels shows an investment in their success and their futures.

“We realize the importance of setting our youth up for success and understand that it will only serve to improve our county in the future.”

Scott’s Story

“We would like to thank Children Incorporated for their continued support of the students at Lewis County High School. Because of their willingness to altruistically invest in our students, two specific siblings have now completed the first steps necessary to building a successful future. Our Youth Service Center would like to share their recent success story.”

“While the state unemployment rate for Kentucky is currently 4%, Lewis County, a rural county in northeastern Kentucky, reports an unemployment rate of 7.4%. The discrepancy between the state average and the county average is something that every family in Lewis County feels in some way.”

“Two of our sponsored children, Brian and Taylor*, have a family that is no exception to that. However, with the help of Children Incorporated, they have recently been able to obtain employment at a fast-food restaurant in a neighboring county. Without the funds from their sponsors and the Children Incorporated program, neither Brian nor Taylor could have secured employment. With the funds provided, both young men were able to acquire the mandated work attire, consisting of two pairs of black jeans and non-slip tennis shoes or boots. Brian and Taylor are doing well in their new employee roles, and we hope they continue to do so as they carry on with their lives.”

“Brian, Taylor and the Lewis County Youth Service Center are incredibly grateful and fortunate to be a part of the Children Incorporated program. We realize the importance of setting our youth up for success and understand that it will only serve to improve our county in the future.”

*Names changed to protect the children. 

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How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Children Incorporated

We provide children living in poverty with education, hope and opportunity so they have the chance for a brighter future. Thanks to past and current supporters around the globe, we work with 225 affiliated sites in 20 countries to offer basic needs, emergency relief, and community support to thousands of children and their families each year.

» more of Children's stories

During my visit to Letcher County, I first visited Jenkins Independent Schools. Jenkins Independent Schools comprises two schools: Burdine Elementary and Jenkins Middle-High. Several years ago, at the request of our coordinator, Angela, Children Incorporated “administratively merged” Burdine Elementary into Jenkins Middle-High. They operate as one affiliated site. Angie looks over both schools; they share one Family Resource Youth Services Center. Angie travels between the two regularly.

Burdine Elementary School was damaged during the flood, but officials agree it could have been worse. There were 3 feet of water outside, but all the doors held. About 4 inches of water was pushed in throughout the building. However, the flood did destroy the separate preschool building. Outside, all the fencing and playground equipment was destroyed and swept downstream.

When elementary school children first enroll, many of them are not school-ready. The pandemic years also caused a learning loss. At present, elementary school children are not performing well in state standardized tests. The children are not only struggling academically but also financially. 82.3% come from low-income families.

After a tour of both campuses, Angie and I had a meeting at her high school office. She said the enrollment at the elementary school is about 203. At the middle-high school, it’s about 236. Angie does plan to add more children in the new school year and may include the preschool children, too.

Angie shared that her students are dealing with persistent poverty. 86% come from low-income families. There are no more active coal mines in Jenkins. The best jobs are with the school system or at the small regional hospital. The remainder of available work is small retail or service jobs, such as at dollar stores, gas stations and fast food restaurants.

After the pandemic learning loss, the students are slowly gaining ground. The middle school children are still struggling, but most of the high school students have hit average benchmarks.

Angie likes to do much of her Children Incorporated shopping at Sam’s Club. She will mostly purchase clothing, hygiene items and food. Then she called a student into the room for me to meet, Jacob.* Jacob is polite and very well-spoken. He is ready to graduate from high school and is still thinking about what he wants to do for his future. Jacob said that he is frankly tired of the school routine and is ready for a break and a change. A part of him wants to take a “gap year,” where he can work and get a paycheck. Another part of him wants to plow through and just get college done and behind him. At the time we spoke, Jacob had applied to a couple of places but hadn’t heard back.

Happily, in mid-May Angie called me with the very good news that Jacob had just received an acceptance letter from Alice Lloyd College, which is in adjacent Knott County. The college is tuition-free! The costs are funded by donations from across the country. However, there are costs for room and board, textbooks, fees, and other miscellaneous expenses. Angie asked if she could nominate Jacob for our Higher Education Program. I gave them an extension and they told me to get the application to me soon. I am thrilled for Jacob to have this opportunity.

*Name changed to protect the child.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renee Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renee's stories

Letcher County is located in the southeastern part of Kentucky. It is bordered by four other Kentucky counties as well as Wise County, Virginia. The county seat, Whitesburg, is located in the middle of the county.

As European explorers and the earliest settlers made their way into Kentucky, the Native American populations of the area (Shawnee in the north and Cherokee in the south) were steadily displaced. Kentucky became a state in 1791, and what became Letcher County was a beautiful but sparsely populated area. Its scattered families made their living by farming. These were very small farms, due to the mountainous terrain, which also made road building and maintenance difficult. The main crop was corn, and the primary livestock was pigs. These made a modest “cash crop” possible, as corn was primarily distilled into alcohol and moved by barrel, and hogs were driven through the mountains into a market town. Most of these small homesteads also had a few horses, a couple of milk cows, and some sheep and chickens. Some men supplemented the farm income by cutting and selling timber. A few men had salt licks on their land – salt was an important resource in the settling of the Commonwealth – and they were glad to sell it.

But of course, the big resource that changed everything was the discovery of coal, and later the ability to mine it on a commercial scale. The discovery of coal in Kentucky is credited to Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750, who was the first known person to find and use coal in what would become the Commonwealth of Kentucky. By 1790 coal had begun to be produced commercially, albeit on a rather small scale, in Lee County. Small quantities continued to be mined across the state, but it wasn’t until 1855 that annual production exceeded 100,000 tons.

The start of the Civil War in 1861 interrupted production. However, soon after the end of the Civil War in 1865, agents from eastern corporations poured into Kentucky’s mountain region. They were eager to secure extraction rights, and many farmers signed away their rights for a few cents per acre.

Letcher County had rich veins of coal. Company towns sprang up, and the coal was mined and hauled away, enriching the absentee owners. At first, the existing families and newcomers who came for work were happy with the chance for better incomes and provisions for their families. But many were swindled. Many owners paid the men in scrip, not cash, which could only be exchanged within the company town, where charges were so high for the food, clothing, and work equipment that some residents were perpetually in debt. [The song “Sixteen Tons” by Merle Travis was about the scrip system and contained the famous line “I owe my soul to the company store.”]

For years, many families made a good life by working in coal mines. But gradually the coal industry went into a decline. This was primarily due to mechanization – as mines grew their machine capacity, they didn’t need as much manpower. The thick, easily accessible coal seams in eastern Kentucky have mostly been mined. What remains is harder and more expensive to mine. Meanwhile, there is more competition from coal mines out west in Montana and Wyoming. Finally, there is less demand for coal as more industries look for cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

This has left eastern Kentucky’s coal mining communities plagued by higher unemployment, a rise in low-wage service jobs and poverty. Furthermore, as coal companies left, the communities lost their main tax base. The communities’ infrastructure is fragile. These communities are left to deal with the fact that many coal companies did not reclaim the land.

Coal mine owners and operators often ordered the stripping of hillsides and the blasting of mountaintops to get at even more coal. After a company’s mining operations stop, the company is supposed to rehabilitate the land. It is a requirement of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977.

The companies that cease mining operations are supposed to reshape the disturbed area, prevent soil erosion and, based on the soil’s needs, fertilize and replant with appropriate vegetation. Erosion prevention is important for clean creeks and streams. The regional water tables are important, as many rural families use wells. Reclaimed land can be used for agriculture, forestry, wildlife habitation and recreation. The cost of reclaiming the land was to be factored into the mines’ costs.

The problem is that many mining companies pulled out without reclaiming the land. The 1977 law is having problems working as envisioned because regulators set the amount of money for reclamation bonds too low, and they are not strictly enforcing the requirements that the companies reclaim land and water contemporaneous with the coal removal. Coal companies postponed reclamation for as long as they could – often for many years. The issue has been made worse as many coal companies have gone bankrupt before doing any reclamation.

Unless land is reclaimed with new grading and planting, then the surrounding communities are more vulnerable to flash floods. And that is what has been happening more frequently.

 We are coming to the second anniversary of the horrendous and devastating floods that struck southeastern Kentucky July 26-30, 2022. The flood caused an immediate disaster but also resulted in long-term negative impacts on the children and their families.

In Letcher County, three people died. Two were a married older couple who worked as janitors at Letcher County Central High School. They died when their car was swept off a bridge, and their deaths grieved the students and the community. (The third was an older lady who had a heart attack as she was trying to escape.)

A very large number of people were left homeless. There was already an affordable housing shortage, and the flood made a bad situation much worse. This forced many people to move, at least those who had the skills and the ability to leave.

Looking at the schools, Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass said of the 25 school districts in the Commonwealth that were affected by the flooding, Breathitt County, Jenkins Independent, Knott County, Leslie County, Letcher County, and Perry County schools were impacted the worst, with significant damages to school operations and/or buildings. Several of the schools were inundated and damaged too badly to open in August after the summer break.

It has been a long road to rebuild and recover. I am proud that Children Incorporated was able to respond immediately. Our Hope In Action Program helped with grants in August 2022 to our affiliated sites in the impacted areas. Another round of grants went out in September 2022 to the hardest-hit counties.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

written by Renee Kube

Renée oversees Children Incorporated’s work in the United States – from the rural southeast and southwest to our urban areas in New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. She works closely with our network of more than 100 volunteer coordinators at each affiliated site. For sixteen years, Renée managed our sites in the Appalachian Region before taking her current role in 2010.

» more of Renee's stories