Foundation Supports Wraparound Services For Slavic Village Families, Schools

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Inside Mound STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Elementary School, students are learning how to read and write, add and subtract.

Many of these children in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood live in one of the most economically distressed zip codes in America, according to a 2017 U.S Census Bureau Report.

But the school is able to offer services to families in need thanks in part to the Broadway-P16 program, funded by the Third Federal Foundation with a mission to break down the barriers of poverty.

Mound elementary’s site coordinator Michael Copeland says every day presents a new challenge.

“Anything can come across my desk any day of the week as far as housing, as far as food, as far as somebody needing some kind of assistance with utilities or car or transportation jobs,” said Copeland. 

Copelands says in the two years he has worked at Mound he has helped more than half of the school’s 400 students.

One of those families is Georgette Lewis and her three kids.

She says the school has helped her “with Christmas, Thanksgiving, with providing coats for the kids.”

Georgette’s 13-year-old daughter, Juilone Rosado says she hears her mother crying when “she can’t pay the bills, there is nothing to do, or we have no money.”

To assist those families, the foundation has invested more than $5 million in cash and $50 million in Third Federal stocks since 2007 for programs such as food assistance, prenatal care, and increasing high quality pre-kindergarten seats. 

“We have a lot of kids living in poverty and poverty creates trauma and poverty creates barriers that stop kids from learning,” said Kurt Karakul, president of the Third Federal Foundation. “We tried to look at ways that we could bring a community and stakeholders in the community together to try and create programs that might remove those barriers to allow learning to go forward.” 

After Cleveland Metropolitan School District statics showed 55 percent of students participating in the Broadway-P16 program moved during a recent school year, the organization and its partners also formed a family stability initiative.

“They were able to keep 350 kids in their schools,” he said. “So that’s been huge just in terms of stabilizing families and keeping them in their homes. And as a result of that, we've seen that our test scores have gone up and we’re really starting to turn the educational system around.”

In fact, Mound Stem Elementary recently raised its overall grade on the Ohio Department of Education’s state report card from an “F” to a “C”.

Karakul adds he can really start to see that this long-term investment, in its eighth year, is starting to make a difference.  

Last week, CMSD announced the launch of Say Yes Cleveland, a partnership with the national Say Yes to Education program that will offer scholarships and wraparound services to Cleveland public school students.

Karakul believes the wraparound services provided by the Say Yes Cleveland program will benefit all CMSD students so they can concentrate on learning.  

His advice for Say Yes and community stakeholders: it will take time to see major results in test scores but the immediate results will come with those who are helped by the wraparound services. 

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