Olivia pointed and squealed at a school bus that drove past our home the other morning, and my mom-brain had a brief panic attack thinking not only about the day when I’ll eventually have to shuffle her off to school but also whether or not she’ll be mentally and physically and emotionally prepared.
Worry after worry cycled through my mind until Olivia jolted me back into the present by cramming a handful of leaves into her mouth.
(Girl knows just what I need not to go insane.)
Of course I want my baby to do well in school: to discover subjects that she loves, friends she can rely on, and challenges that will stretch her to become a better version of herself.
Every child—every person, for that matter—deserves those same opportunities.
My family may not be worrying about backpacks and pencil pouches and schedules, but plenty of families across the country are. Many with needs that are so much more pressing than mine.
The charities and organizations below are fighting to provide quality education and after-school programs to children, adults, and communities that are underserved and underrepresented.
I hope that you’ll not only check them out, but that you’ll also donate to their cause. That you’ll financially join in the awesome work that they’re doing. Try skipping the $5 coffees this week and instead spread that back-to-school spirit of excitement that I know, deep down, you remember as an elementary schooler.
**Note that the following charities and organizations were all ranked highly on either Charity Watch or Charity Navigator.**
About 800 million adults (36 million in the United States alone) struggle with reading and writing. This translates to struggles in other areas of life, particularly employment (i.e. reading a job application). SO MANY of my favorite moments with Olivia happen while I’m reading her bedtime stories, and some parents struggle to do just that with their children.
ProLiteracy is an awesome membership organization that believes a “safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated adult population.” They support 1,000 membership programs that offer adult literacy instruction, as well advocate for awareness, provide their instructors with professional development, and publish over 400 print and digital resource tools for tutors and students.
I especially love ProLiteracy’s Workforce Curriculum for Immigrants with Limited English, a program that helps low-income immigrants develop English competencies while also learning personal and business financial skills. This organization is helping lift people out of poverty by giving them the education that they need. Consider checking them out!
GEMS is committed to not only ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking but also empowering the victims of the industry to reach their full potential through mentorships and education.
The wide spectrum of services GEMS provides range from direct intervention and holistic healing for victims, to advocacy, to prevention and outreach curriculums. GEMS offers the Educational Initiative Program, which mentors victims of sexual exploitation as they work to graduate from their GED, high school, college, or trade school programs. The GEMS Youth Development Program and Youth Leadership Program help transform victims of domestic exploitation into leaders and advocates fighting to end the sexual exploitation industry.
Check out more of their mission and programs HERE.
More than 15 million kids are on their own after school, and more than 1 million of those kids are in grades K-5. The After-School All-Stars partners with Title 1 schools to create quality afterschool programs that not only keep kids safe and promote community but also improve academic performance and student well-being.
The hours between 3pm and 6pm are, according to their research, peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation (with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex). High-quality afterschool programs have improved attendance, behavior, and coursework among students as well as improved their standardized tests scores.
ASAS is focused specifically on middle-school students, a community they believe is underserved when it comes to afterschool programs. Their programs help students become more active and healthy (see the “Sports as a Hook” program), prepares middle-schoolers for high school and beyond (see the “We are Ready” program), educates students on self-sufficiency and finances (see the “C.E.O.” program), and encourages students to be leaders in their community (see the “Life Service Action” program).
Check out the awesome ways you can support these programs HERE.
SEO offers three incredible sponsor programs for underrepresented and underserved communities, helping young people maximize their educational and career opportunities.
The SEO Scholar Program is a free and rigorous eight-year program that gets high school students to and through college. The program boasts an impressive 90% graduation rate and was created with the mission to help students break the cycle of poverty and attend top-tier schools despite their economic circumstances.
SEO also offers the SEO Career summer internship program: a pre-professional development program that provides students of color with coaching, training, and job experience across multiple lines of business. Undergraduate students are connected to internship opportunities at more than 40 partnered companies, and 80% of the interns received full-time job offers from these partnered companies.
Lastly, the SEO Alternative Investments program provides education, exposure, and mentoring opportunities to professionals and students of color who are traditionally underrepresented in the banking sector. The conferences, fellowships, and investment banking prep program are all meant to help educate and offer opportunity to those who are underrepresented.
SEO has made a huge impact in the lives of so many students fighting for their chance at success in the United States. Consider supporting their mission and programs HERE.
Literary Inc. recognizes a connection between an individual’s success and their exposure to reading at an early age. Knowing how to read and write connects a child with opportunity and equips them to handle academic challenges and leads to a wider range of employment options.
But families living at the poverty level face compounding challenges when it comes to promoting literacy within the home. It’s tough to sit down and read a book with your child when you’re forced to work 3 or 4 different jobs to make ends meet.
Literacy Inc. partners with low-income communities to deliver reading opportunities to children. They offer a variety of programs, from a Reading Buddies program (where older students take time to read with younger students during the day) to a Great Grandreader program (where young students are partnered to read with senior citizens), as well as school read-a-thons and teacher development trainings.
Check out their website and ways that you can donate HERE.
(Bonus!) Hurricane Harvey in Houston
The devastation that Hurricane Harvey has caused in Houston, Texas and beyond has not only affected families and homes but also the Houston school system. The NYT reported that more than 160 public school districts in Texas have been closed, along with 30 charter schools. Please consider donating to Samaritan’s Purse as they fight to provide relief for Houston families who will start this school year with more anxiety and worry and fear than many of us can imagine.
You can donate HERE.
Sometimes the simplest way to impact our world is to reevaluate where we put our daily dollars.
You can find more awesome causes for your monthly coffee money HERE!