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Member Spotlight: Roots and Wings in Delray Beach

Posted By Marilyn Bieber, Thursday, July 30, 2020

Our member Roots and Wings in Delray Beach helps disadvantaged students lift themselves out of poverty by becoming strong, confident readers and life-long learners.

The nonprofit also collaborates with other community partners in improving education for all children.

We asked the organization’s Founder and President Ted Hoskinson to explain further what Roots and Wings does and how it has made a big difference in the lives of children in Delray Beach and beyond.

1) Explain what Roots and Wings does in the community.

Ted Hoskinson: At Roots and Wings, our mission is to improve the quality of education in our extended South Florida community by supporting the students who most need help in learning to read and providing encouragement for the teachers who are working hard each day to influence and inspire children to learn. 

Our founder was an elementary school teacher for many years, and his heart is still very much tied to early learning. Each of us involved with Roots and Wings has a deep passion for education, and particularly for helping disadvantaged students lift themselves out of poverty. We are helping the children who most need support to become strong, confident readers. We hope our efforts will lead them to life-time learning. In line with this goal we also reward and encourage Master Teachers who we recognize as our most important partners.

2) How has COVID 19 impacted your operations, and what services are you still offering?

Ted Hoskinson: With Palm Beach County public schools not opening this fall, Roots and Wings is diligently focused on working with the School District of Palm Beach County, elementary school principals, the City of Delray and community partners to ensure that internet connectivity in poor neighborhoods of Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach is sufficient, helping to ensure that every child has internet access to participate fully in distance learning.  

We are also working with our partners to devise a meaningful distance learning solution for Project UpLift, our free, intensive, small group after school reading program slated to serve seven schools and 420 2nd and 3rd grade students this fall. We are determined to ensure that young students who are struggling to read, and already engaged in a perilous COVID-slide, have the support they need to regain ground and achieve grade level reading. New research tells us that on average students are only retaining about 70% of what they learned last year. 

With our school-based and community partners, we are developing an individualized distance-learning program utilizing certified teachers who will establish tailored learning pathways and monitor weekly reading progress through distance learning for each of the struggling 2nd and 3rd grade students that Project UpLift primarily serves. In addition, when schools open again, we are hoping to expand our after-school programming from three afternoons a week to five afternoons a week, and to stretching our hours to 6 p.m. each day. This expansion will allow Project UpLIft to help the students most-in-need to catch up on their skills so they can pass that all- important Florida Standards Assessment in reading at the end of 3rd grade. 

3) Explain the difference Roots and Wings has made in the community through the years.

Ted Hoskinson: When Roots and Wings was founded in 2016 we had one small teacher recognition program, the Above and Beyond Awards at Pine Grove Elementary School, a Title One school in Delray Beach.  In the early days we gave our award-winning teachers a small gift bag containing $100 and some candy to share with their students. Four years later we can proudly say that we have presented nearly 1,000 Above and Beyond Awards at 18 Title One public schools to dedicated teachers and public school staff in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton. Now, our award-winning teachers and staff receive $100 in cash and nearly $1,000 worth of gift cards for area restaurants and service providers.  Their goodies are presented in a handsome canvas tote inscribed with “Dedicated Educator” and are accompanied by a framed certificate recognizing them as Above and Beyond Award-winners. 

Project UpLift, our free, intensive, small group after school tutoring program will serve 420 kids at 7 area Title One schools in 2020-21. In just 3 years we have grown from serving 30 students to serving 420! The proof of Project UpLift’s effectiveness is in the impressive reading growth our participating students are demonstrating.  Due to COVID-19, students were not tested at the end of the 2019-20 school year, but we are proud to say that in January of 2020, at the school-year’s mid-point, more than half of our Project UpLift students had already achieved a year’s worth of reading growth. 

Roots and Wings board and our small team are also champions for community collaboration. We partner with the School District, the City of Delray Beach, many other non-profit organizations and area businesses to achieve our goals. We truly believe that “all boats rise on the same tide,” and it is very important to us to collaborate in improving education, but more broadly, to collaborate for a strong, vibrant, cohesive South Florida community. We are working hard to set an example as a community collaborator and we have been formally recognized by the School District for two consecutive years as an “outstanding community partner.”

4) How has Nonprofits First helped your organization?

Ted Hoskinson: Our South Florida community is fortunate to have an organization that supplies such comprehensive services to non-profit organizations that are working so hard to achieve their missions and improve the quality of life for all of us. The educational seminars, workshops and networking opportunities that Nonprofits First provides are very helpful. They assist our non-profits in learning what they need to know to be most effective at achieving their philanthropic goals and they open the door and invite meaningful collaborations among us.  These efforts make a big difference. 

Learn more about Roots and Wings here.

If you know a great story about a local nonprofit, please share it with Charlotte Gill, Nonprofits First’s director of development and business strategies. Her email is: cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org

Tags:  Member Spotlight  Nonprofit Nugget  Palm Beach County  Philanthropy 

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