Beyond Barriers

I read an article this week about events taking place in Georgia and Connecticut, where groups of smartly dressed African American men visited local elementary schools to celebrate the first day of classes. They did this for two very important reasons: first, to cheer on these students and encourage them as they started a new school year; and secondly, to help break the stereotypes that some fathers aren’t involved in their children’s lives.

34These types of stereotypes can be incredibly damaging to a community, and make impressionable young children feel defeated before they even have a chance to find their own way through life.

Our Leaven kids are economically disadvantaged, and some come from one-parent homes or live with guardians or foster families. Some parents are disabled, while others work so many jobs just to make ends meet, they are rarely home to help their children with their studies. Many come from families who are first- or second-generation Americans, and struggle with language and culture.  Society, the media and statistics paint a grim picture for these students future. But we know there is hope!

We’ve seen firsthand how hard these families work every day to make a better life for their family. These loving parents and guardians want a great future for their kids, so when their children began to struggle at school, they signed them up for our Leaven programs. What a relief it was for them to have access to our programs that can provide their kids with tremendous opportunities.

Our work is focused on the entire family, not just helping children achieve success today, but helping the whole family succeed well into the future. We help children not only learn school skills, but life skills as well. We surround them with positive role models who not only mentor our students, but also partner with their families to create a loving and supportive environment for each of these precious children.

Changing stereotypes and breaking down society’s barriers is not a job that can be done in an instant; it takes a long-term effort by the community as a whole. And our Leaven communities are doing just that. We believe our Leaven families are amazing, and we can’t wait to show the world the fruits of their efforts. Already we are seeing some of our first Leaven graduates make great strides in high school, and we’re seeing communities rally around these hardworking students.

There’s a real change surrounding each of our Leaven families, and they are radiating hope because friends like you refuse to believe the stereotypes, and refuse to give up on these students. We could not do it without you; thank you for partnering with these hardworking children and families.

Together we are helping kids and communities rise.

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