in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Invest in summer education programs
From: Robyn H., Birmingham, AL
The Children's Fresh Air Farm in Birmingham, Alabama, is a ministry of the Independent Presbyterian Church. It focuses on long-term relationships with children from low-wealth communities who are struggling to meet reading goals in the first and second grade. Through the church's STAIR literacy program, church members tutor students during the school year. Then, during the summertime, children are invited to the farm, a sprawling summer camp where students receive intensive remedial education, as well as breakfast and lunch, outdoor recreation, and enrichment activities.
The camp is free, which allows more families to participate and helps keep students from falling behind academically over summer break. Children get a traditional summer camp experience in addition to academic enrichment. They also get the chance to visit sites around Birmingham, like the McWane Science Center, the Birmingham Art Museum, the Civil Rights Institute, and Jones Valley Urban Farm.
I wrote a story about this camp on our blog, and received a tremendous response from the local community in praise of this project. I think it's a great example of a church congregation building relationships with those they serve and making a real impact in their community.
Students take a nationally normalized test to assess reading and math before and after camp, and they get education and enrichment from licensed, professional teachers. The investment IPC has made in this program is really paying off; I think these children will see the benefits for years to come.