With many students engaged in virtual or hybrid learning plans, some parents were faced with the dilemma of ensuring their children had safe adult supervision and assistance to prevent them from falling behind in their school work. Fortunately, several churches and organizations stepped forward to provide learning support pods throughout the city.
In Kansas City, KS, a number of support pods sprang into action. Warriors 4 Wyandotte has five staff / volunteers serving 16 students Monday through Friday. “We really want to engage students in every Zoom meeting, making sure their attendance stays on track,” said Robert Vargas, Executive Director and Founder. The district provides lunches three days a week, and W4W provides lunches Tuesday and Thursday.
Village Initiative’s Kids’ Kitchen has six volunteers / staff serving up to six students per day Monday through Thursday. “We’re all in this together,” said Selena Overton-Gant, Director of Operations. Urban Scholastic Center also serves Pre-K to Grade 12 KCKPS students Tuesdays-Thursdays, providing an onsite study hall, virtual classes, and tutoring for $25 per semester.
Bridge of Hope Community Church offers a virtual classroom for children attending Grant Elementary, its CFK-partnered school. They saw the need to help parents without childcare or the ability to stay home with their kids. Aime Tindle, Director of Communications, noted that all volunteers are either church members or related to the kids being served. Some help with breakfast and lunch, while others help keep children on task and help with questions regarding their school work. “Grant Elementary has provided an abundance of school supplies that are readily available at our site for each child,” she said. “We also have volunteers that help with watching the kids during their break time to support outdoor recreation and other safe fun.”
In the Center School District, Freedom Fire serves 12 students ranging from 3rd to 9th grade three days a week in the afternoon. Ten volunteers from various churches assist students with school work and homework to ensure they stay on task. “The main goal for this project is to allow the kids to continue their education with guidance and help,” explained Lenard Manuel, Youth Director.
Colonial Presbyterian Church provides volunteers at the Freedom Fire site as well as those at their own site who, on a rotating basis, serve up to 10 elementary and middle school students attending in Center or Hickman Mills. Colonial hosts the students Mondays and Thursdays and provides lunch and snacks. “We are doing it to give their parents the ability to get their work done as well as to provide these kids more intentional one-on-one support,” said Mark Potter, Associate Pastor.
In Hickman Mills, Bethel Family Worship Center’s nonprofit, Community Empowerment Center, hosts up to 40 students from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each school day. The Upper Room provides the staff, breakfast, lunch and a snack, while Bethel supports with supplies and utilities. A few recent graduates also volunteer their time.
United Believers Community Church provides space for 35 students, including full use of classrooms, restrooms, gymnasium and kitchen access to store and refrigerate food. They also are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each school day.
Prior to the start of the school year, Grandview C-4 School District reached out to Caring for Kids with a district-wide goal of supporting staff morale. In an effort to ease the transition of district staff returning to school buildings, teachers voiced a need for childcare. Caring for Kids reached out to numerous faith partners in Grandview for support and International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) answered the call, with up to 20 volunteers serving 15 students and providing snacks each day.
“The goal was to serve the teachers and show our appreciation to them for all they do within our community. It’s a small way we can give back to their families and say thanks,” said Pastor Lenny La Guardia, IHOPKC.
“When we heard from our staff with young families their concern about what to do with their children when schools were starting in a virtual environment, we knew that we needed support from our community,” said Dr. Kenny Rodrequez, Superintendent. “Our first and only call was immediately to Caring for Kids. We knew that we needed our community partners now more than ever and Caring for Kids was the only group that we knew could unite all of them to meet the need. With a school year that we knew would be filled with uncertainties, I am continually thankful to have an organization like Caring for Kids to consistently rely on.”