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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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May Member Spotlight: Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, May 26, 2020

 

As schools turned to distance learning during the coronavirus outbreak, Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast has helped to make sure students continue getting educated on career readiness, entrepreneurship skills, and financial literacy.

 

The organization’s Google Classrooms and virtual Career Speaker Series have served more than 10,000 students in Palm Beach County schools. They have offered “real-world” experiences for students and helped them prepare for a bright future.

 

As part of our May member spotlight, Nonprofits First asked Katie Spitzig, the agency’s Middle and High School Programs Manager, to explain what Google Classrooms is all about and tell us what Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast does in the community.

 

1) Explain your Google Classroom learning project.

 

Katie Spitzig: Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast has created Google Classrooms in order to serve teachers, students and parents within our community. The specially-created digital classrooms provide resources which help to foster career readiness, entrepreneurship skills, and financial literacy. Our grade level specific classrooms include lessons, worksheets, interactive activities and educational games which teachers and parents can use to help their students understand these important life skills. 

 

We are constantly updating our Google Classrooms with new programs, lessons, activities and career speaker videos and encourage the community to join our classrooms and check back often! 

 

2) Explain, in general, the work Junior Achievement does in the community.

 

Katie Spitzig: Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast helps to bridge the gap between the business world and the education world by creating experiential learning opportunities for local students. We work with volunteers to teach programs K-12 which support Junior Achievement’s three pillars: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Junior Achievement works to empower young people to own their own economic success through volunteer-delivered programs. Our goal is to not only inspire our local youth and prepare them to be productive members of a global society but in doing so, also prepare our local families as well.

 

3) Are there other virtual programs that Junior Achievement offers?

 

Katie Spitzig: In addition to our Google Classrooms, Junior Achievement has also partnered with The School District of Palm Beach County and our local business leaders to create a Virtual Career Day. Elementary students from around the county will watch videos created by local volunteers from a variety of professions in which they discuss their career path and a typical day in their life. Students will then work to explore different careers and reflect on their personal interests and future potential career paths.

 

Currently, our Google Classrooms and virtual Career Speaker Series have served over 10,000 students in Palm Beach County schools! With so many Career Days being cancelled in the District, we are excited to offer these “real-world” experiences for our local students and help them to prepare for a bright future!  

 

4) How has Nonprofits First helped your organization?

 

Katie Spitzig: Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast values its relationship with Nonprofits First because they help to ensure that we maintain excellence in nonprofit management. The partnership is essential as it helps Junior Achievement with networking, professional development, grant writing assistance and so much more!  

 

Learn more about Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast 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:  Education  Member Spotlight  Nonprofit  Palm Beach County 

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April Spotlight: Community Classroom Project

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Monday, April 27, 2020

School can be really stressful -- not just for students but also for their families and educators. Community Classroom Project (CCP) offers resources to make school less challenging for those struggling with stress. It’s an initiative of the organization: Space of Mind.

 

Now, during the coronavirus crisis, CCP has gone virtual to help children manage their challenges.

 

We asked Kristen Cairns, the community outreach director at Space of Mind, to explain the initiative.

 

 

1) What is Community Classroom Project?

 

Kristen Cairns: The Community Classroom Project (CCP) is a nonprofit initiative started by Space of Mind in 2017 to extend the mission of reducing school-related stress for students,

parents, educators and schools throughout the communities in Palm Beach County where resources for this type of programming are scarce.

By bridging the gaps between families, school faculty, mental health providers and community leaders, CCP is aligning these traditionally independent support systems by strengthening communication networks and providing programs and resources to develop social, emotional, creative, and life skills for each participant.

 

2) What services/programs are you still doing now during the coronavirus?

 

Kristen Cairns: Due to Covid-19’s lockdown on in-person services, CCP has gone virtual, too. Our afterschool group is in its first year, piloting our SOMewhere To Be Club at Poinciana Elementary, a Title 1 school in Boynton Beach. We have pivoted the program to meet through Google Classroom and are working with the nine boys handpicked for the club and their guidance counselor and in-school behavior specialist to help manage their stress, attention, time management and social/emotional wellness during this time. When not virtual, the group meets weekly afterschool to help these boys, all chosen because their attention spans and behaviors make it hard for them and others to learn in the traditional setting, to develop their full leadership potential. Still in its online infancy, we are learning more about their home dynamics, which will enhance our programming upon return to the in-person environment.

 

Additionally, our Community Classroom Kitchen, the culinary initiative of the CCP, has launched a One-For-One Meal Box program that is providing fresh ingredient meal boxes to encourage families to cook together during this time of home confinement. Each box is accompanied by a recipe and a video tutorial by our chef, Blake Malatesta, who has sourced ingredients from local restaurants, food purveyors, bakeries and farms. Each week we rotate box menus, and for every box we sell, a box is then donated through the week’s featured nonprofit partner to distribute the donated boxes (and groceries when donations permit) to their families. In the project’s first month, we have fed over 100 families in need through five local nonprofits, and we are gearing up for even more! This project will continue indefinitely as a foundation of our “Family Dinner” campaign, as we believe that the more families engage together in the kitchen, the more they learn about one another.

We are still working with parents and families, offering coaching sessions to ease the strain of confinement, sudden homeschooling and family management. Our Parent Educator Resource Center (PERC) is also currently seeking funding to provide a virtual space to offer curriculum and coaching resources for ESE coordinators, teachers, guidance counselors, administrators and parents through consultations, a lending library, psycho-educational resources, as well as our catalog of workshops, advocacy training, professional development, and inspiring educational events.

 

3) What impact has your organization had in Palm Beach County?

 

Kristen Cairns: Though our organization is still fairly new, we have been able to launch programming in each of our core missions. Our SOMewhere To Be program is changing the game for the nine boys in the first-year pilot program by empowering them to understand the way their brains work, articulate their strengths and weaknesses, advocate for their needs and

build leadership skills through social, emotional and life skill development. We are working to expand this project to other Title 1 and after school programs in the fall. Through professional development programs for educators, we have launched a dialogue around the importance of understanding how students’ organizational skills, brain wiring and social/emotional competency supports their classroom learning. When a teacher understands how to reach a student in the manner in which they learn best, possibilities for development and enrichment explode! Our mission is to reduce school-related stress at the source first, which is in the classroom relationships and information processing. As more educators expand their flexibility to reach more learners on a personal level, the “backpack black hole” that creates unfinished homework (and results in lots of family dinner table fights) will diminish and students will feel happier and

more confident in the classroom, at home and out in the world.

 

4) How has your organization’s staff benefited from services at Nonprofits First?

 

Kristen Cairns: Nonprofits First has some amazing free training programs that we have taken advantage of, which has supported us as we have launched. Being a new organization, we certainly are learning from the ground up! The online grant database has also been a major help to us, especially during the coronavirus.

Learn more about Space of Mind 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:  Education  Member Spotlight  Nonprofit; Membership  Virtual Learning 

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