Tag Archives: new orleans

Fresh Produce for New Orleans Students

In New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood, the Phyllis Wheatley Community School building was decimated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, the spirit of the school and surrounding community has proven resilient. The new and improved Phyllis Wheatley Community School opened its doors to students in 2013 with a two-fold mission: first, to provide individualized support for each student’s academic and social and emotional learning; second, it strives to serve the surrounding low-income community, fostering the involvement of students’ families in school activities, as well as reaching out to their neighbors.

The Phyllis Wheatley Community School maintains an Edible Schoolyard garden, which students can help to tend, and which provides fresh produce for the school cafeteria.

One way in which the Phyllis Wheatley Community School does this is by maintaining an Edible Schoolyard garden, which students can help to tend, and which provides fresh produce for the school cafeteria. Moreover, the school makes the fruits and vegetables available for students, their families, and community members monthly to take home.

Our newest project in New Orleans

The Phyllis Wheatley Community School is our newest affiliated project in New Orleans. Children Incorporated began our affiliation with the school at the end of the 2017 school year. As a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school, the number of children in attendance is rapidly growing, and is almost up to 900.

While visiting the school last year, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Max, who described the school as a “high-need school,” meaning many children in attendance are lacking basic needs such as adequate food and clothing. Max said that Children Incorporated is very helpful in that many students at his school come from low-income families in its surrounding neighborhoods. He told Renée that our sponsorship program provides uniforms, books, shoes, and other essential items to kids.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Max with a sponsored child at the Wheatley School

At the beginning of the school year, each student received a backpack full of supplies as well. Max also participates in the Lollipop Book Club, a children’s book of the month club. In addition, he is planning to use sponsorship funds to help provide Thanksgiving meals to our sponsored children’s families in the fall.

More children in need

After visiting with Max, Renée met with Amanda, the new President of Communities In Schools (CIS) of New Orleans, our affiliate and school dropout prevention organization. As they discussed the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, Amanda and Renée both agreed that there are plenty of children in New Orleans who could benefit greatly from having sponsors, and that they would really appreciate the personal involvement that comes with sponsorship.

Renée also discussed the possibility of providing Hope In Action funding for schools in New Orleans. Past assistance to our affiliated projects there went to amazing programs such as the before and after school program Champ Camp. Renée expressed that future assistance could go towards addressing food insecurity by assisting with the implementation of more school gardens. Amanda agreed that was a good idea, because, as she explained to Renée, many of the schools in the city have made health and wellness as much of a priority as academics, because children respond so well to programs such as school gardens.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

A Unique School in New Orleans

Revolutionizing the traditional public education paradigm, the Morris Jeff Community School emphasizes language and the arts – not just test scores – fostering its students’ development into well-rounded, productive members of society. Not only that, but according to Donneisha, our volunteer coordinator at the school, Morris Jeff is also special in that the parents of students who attend have a say in how inclusive and diverse the school is.

The Morris Jeff Community School is a charter school. While students from all around the city are in attendance, the majority of them live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Opened in 2009, the school serves preschool through eighth-grade students. As Donneisha told our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, on her recent trip to visit the school, Morris Jeff has a high number of very actively-involved parents, as well a great deal of community support – which make it unique. It is also one of the most racially-diverse charter schools in the city. The students of Morris Jeff come from a variety of socio-economic classes. Enrollment numbers are high for both special needs and high-performing academic achievers, and the ethnic breakdown of the student body is quite diverse.

Every child deserves support

Morris Jeff has a high number of very actively-involved parents, as well a great deal of community support – which make it unique.

The parents of students at the Morris Jeff Community School believe that the school should meet as many of the kids’ needs as possible. The faculty spends a great deal of time with at-risk students as well as with those with learning disabilities. They also provide a challenging education for the higher-performing students. Donneisha added that social and emotional development are crucial, so there is much programming in place for that as well. The Justice Center at the school focuses on fostering healthy relationships. There is a reading program there, too, and a Children’s Advocacy Center that teaches sex education. The school celebrates a Kindness Week, with bullying prevention as the focal point.

Donneisha loves that Children Incorporated helps to directly provide for our sponsored and unsponsored children’s basic needs. She is grateful to have the autonomy to choose what each child needs – whereas other organizations may have limits as to what may be provided to the kids in their programs. Donneisha told Renée that the greatest need that she encounters is for basic items like clothes and food. The required school uniforms are expensive, too, and parents struggle to afford them.

Kids adore having sponsors

It’s not just Donneisha who loves the school and our sponsorship program; the students love their school, too. While there, Renée met with one of our sponsored children, Lori*, who is in the sixth grade. She told Renée, “This school supports you. Even if someone isn’t your teacher, they want to help you. They really care about you. We have students from all over the world. One student is from Uganda, and he didn’t speak any English when he started – and everyone helped him learn.”

Renée knew that Lori’s sponsor had visited her a few years ago, and she wanted to know what Lori thought about having a sponsor. Lori replied, “It helps me, and they tell me nice things. They had lunch with me one time, and they brought me a pink bag of stuff, like coloring books and gummies. I loved it.”

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Recovering for a Second Time

Located twenty minutes from downtown New Orleans, the city’s eastern 9th Ward is a tight-knit community of over 65,000 residents. “The East,” as most locals call it, started off in the 1960s as a suburban-style area within the city limits. Beginning in the mid-1980s, this region began to decline into a state of poverty. The city’s public schools system, notorious for being one of the worst in the country, only perpetuated the problem into the next generation. Then came the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the storm’s wake, countless businesses – and even hospitals – opted not to re-open, leaving the residents of an already-troubled community severely underserviced. Recovery has been slow. In an area prone to crime and littered with abandoned buildings and homes, kids face significant barriers to their ability to succeed in school.

In addition to having difficulty concentrating in school, some of the children lost their homes for a second time in their young lives.

At the ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary School, staff work hard to help children overcome these obstacles. Founded in 1965, the school was originally part of the New Orleans public schools system. It became a ReNEW charter school in 2013; and today, it is the largest school in the city, with 875 children in grades kindergarten through eight. The dedicated faculty strives to innovatively prepare students for college and beyond, providing personalized attention to each student’s educational and non-academic needs. The ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary School also offers an advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) lab and a world-class library.

When disaster strikes

In February of 2017, a tornado severely damaged the ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary School building and the surrounding New Orleans East community. School was in session and children were in the building when the tornado struck.  The administration, faculty, and staff earned acclaim from city officials for keeping the children safe and maintaining order during the tornado, and no one was injured.

Renée with Erin and one of our sponsored children

After the storm was over, the school was vacated for repairs. As kids were shifted to a temporary facility, they found themselves in overcrowded classrooms that were cramped and uncomfortable. Some of the children suffered emotional trauma due to having experienced the tornado and the transition to a new school. Their test scores dropped as a result of these factors.

In addition to having difficulty concentrating in school, some of the children lost their homes for a second time in their young lives. Students who were in grades six and above had lived through Hurricane Katrina, and now they faced yet another natural disaster in their short lifetimes. 25 homes were damaged, and most of the families did not have renter’s insurance. As families worked to rebuild their lives, they lived with other families, often sleeping on couches in tight quarters.

Excited to read

Erin is our volunteer coordinator at ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary School. On a recent trip to visit the school, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with Erin. Erin told Renée that she loves our sponsorship program. While Erin focuses on providing basic needs such as clothing and shoes to our sponsored and unsponsored children, she is also a big believer in supporting literacy and a true love of reading. She participates in the Lollipop Book Club, through which she orders books for kids, and they receive a wrapped book and lollipop. Erin can shop for books by reader age or search by theme, such as John Newbery Medal winners. She said that the kids get really excited about their books.

Erin also expressed to Renée that she appreciates when sponsors send additional gifts to their sponsored children, because they allow her to take time to really be thoughtful and personal about the items she chooses for sponsored children. She often spends the extra funds on hygiene and grooming items – something that she feels the children need very often, especially while living in transitional environments.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Preparing Young People for College

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.

87 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.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Opening a Window to the World

It is amazing what our sponsors are willing to do for their sponsored children; and oftentimes, they don’t even realize just how great of an impact they have. Whether it is writing a letter about their family or home life, or sending a special gift for their sponsored kid’s birthday or for the holidays, they have a lasting effect that is powerful. One important way in which sponsors help kids to learn is by sharing their travel stories with their sponsored children, which serves as a window to the world that a child might otherwise not have the opportunity to see.

Time and time again, we hear stories from our volunteer coordinators and directly from children in our program about how the letters, pictures, and postcards that they receive from their sponsors not only make them feel special, but also give them an idea of what life is like outside of their own neighborhoods and schools. Oftentimes, children living in poverty don’t have the opportunity to travel, because it is both expensive and time-consuming to do so.

Oftentimes, children living in poverty don’t have the opportunity to travel, because it is both expensive and time-consuming to do so.

We often hear from children that they have never left the town they are growing up in. Sharing travel stories with sponsored kids lets them know that there are more opportunities in the world for them than they might be able to think of on their own – it helps them to dream big and set goals for themselves, which can in turn encourage them to do well in school so that their futures can be as bright as they can imagine them to be.

While visiting students at Schaumburg Elementary School in New Orleans, Shelley Oxenham, U.S. Projects Specialist, met Desiree*, who has a particularly close relationship with her sponsor. Desiree has a wonderful sponsor who sends her letters about and photos of her travels around the world, which has opened Desiree’s eyes to more possibilities in her own life. Desiree’s sponsor goes so far as to create picture books for her at the beginning of each school year so that Desiree can learn about new places, which also sparks her interest in her own education.

We are endlessly grateful for the investment that all of our sponsors make in the lives of their sponsored children. Whether it is contributing a monthly amount that goes towards providing them with food, clothing, and an education – or going the extra mile and communicating with their sponsored child about their own lives or travel experiences so they can learn about the world outside of their own – it all makes a big difference for children living in poverty.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.