Apr 072019
 

I have been tutoring at LHCC for 3 school years.  I find it to be a very worthwhile and encouraging ministry.  It is a real high to see the light go on in a child’s mind and their faces beam as they begin to grasp a concept that has been befuddling them.  It is also very gratifying to build relationships with the children as well as the parents.

This school year brought me a new challenge I was unprepared to handle.  In August, I started working with Jane (not her real name) a 5th grader.  At first, I was surprised to see how weak her reading skills were.  The following weeks I realized that even though she could barely read she had somehow been passed on year after year by the school system.  Not only could she not read, her math skills were barely at a second-grade level.  I spoke with her mother on several occasions but due to the language barrier and cultural differences, I was unable to properly communicate my concern.  Each week I became more and more desperate and frustrated in how to help Jane.  She was bringing in 5th grade homework but had no comprehension as to what to do.  Honestly, I cried in the car after each session the first couple of months.  I wanted to help Jane but felt so inadequate.

Through an interpreter I asked her mother over and over if she would arrange a meeting for me with Jane’s teachers.  The mom listened politely but made no effort to arrange such a meeting.  Thankfully the school reached out to Jane’s mom via a letter that arrived the day before our tutoring session.   Mom invited me to attend and I jumped at the chance.  Sadly, the night before the meeting I came down with the flu and was quite ill.  I prayed feverently that the Lord would allow me to be well enough the next morning to attend that meeting because unless I was on my death bed I planned to be there.  I awoke the next day and was able to get dressed and get to the meeting which lasted almost 2 hours!  I was fine during the meeting but then went home and back to bed for two more days while my flu continued after that precious 2 hour break!

During the meeting it was discussed that Jane was becoming frustrated with school and made excuses every day as to why she didn’t need to go. It also became apparent that on the present course Jane would probably become totally lost in the system and eventually drop out. Her IQ is very low and her mother is ill-equipped to help her. As a result of the meeting, it was decided that Jane was not able to continue on a mainstream 5th grade level and would be moved into an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) but still remain with her classmates.  I was able to connect with her teachers and got help in how I could best help Jane.  This was such a blessing because now Jane is working at a level that she can handle.  She is happy to do her homework and her confidence level has soared as has our relationship.  This is especially important as next year Jane will go to middle school and if not for this change and new IEP probably would have drowned in the CMS system.

Thank-you for reading my volunteer story …

D.O. ~ third-year volunteer with LHCC

April 2019

I was moved at Movement Day Charlotte

 Attitude, Education, Family, Immigrants  Comments Off on I was moved at Movement Day Charlotte
Mar 192019
 

I went to Movement Day Charlotte this past weekend. The day when local church pastors, non-profit and marketplace leaders come together to get their marching orders, to quite literally keep moving. Six years ago, at the inaugural predecessor conference called The Justice Conference, I was profoundly moved to consider my movement into ministry. If you are wondering whether I got the big white phone call from God, I did… A month later, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti with my church, Forest Hill. A month later, I handed in my resignation. If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of the boat.

Joined by 1,000 pastors and ministry leaders yesterday, I was again reminded of why I quit my job to take a small role in the local mission field. It is an honor to serve our neighbors. We are a deeply divided city and the needs are ever present. The only key metric of progress since the prior Movement Day is literacy rates have improved by 1%. To 40%. That’s 4 out of 10 grade 3 students reading at grade level. The rate for our target audience is even lower, at just 24%.

Last week’s blog was about the value of persisting with reading over the long summer months. I am more convinced than ever that the benefits are more than just school reading grades. What I heard yesterday is that we have to put our words into action. Go do something…We are going to spend 30 days focusing on our literal and physical neighbors. Ask yourself the question “Do you know the names of the ten or so families occupying the households where you live?” Can we convince the families we work with to do the same? I’ll report back in 30 days. How can we fulfill the great commission to love our neighbors if we don’t even know their names?

Until then, I am

Brent Morris 

 Posted by at 7:56 am
Mar 102019
 

In 2017, an independent report comparing four CMS schools for year-round consideration, compared with the rest of the CMS schools brought unexpected results, in my opinion. Neither the shorter summer breaks nor the extra time produced measurable academic gains, after three years. I am referring to the March 3 Charlotte Observer article, entitled “Concerns over year-round school benefits led to board’s decision“, well written as always by Ann Doss Helms. I was dismayed. Actually, I was self-evaluating how these results could possibly be true, as I weigh up everything I have learned and experienced from delivering summer enrichment camps for the past six years with Learning Help Centers of Charlotte. The video below speaks to the value of bridging the gap for low-income children, who would otherwise experience limited learning, not to mention reading encouragement during the long summer months.

Summer Reading Loss simulation, comparing the have’s with the have not’s

I will not argue or refute the results of the multi-year study of the sample four schools from West Charlotte, included in this study. These schools no doubt have many challenges before students even sit down in class to learn. High levels of absenteeism in July, when other CMS schools are still out enjoying pool-time or vacation. What I will argue is that I disagree that additional summer literacy interventions and a shorter summer vacation are not beneficial for our young English Language Learning students. I have seen first-hand the extraordinary benefits of summer learning activities. I know that the parents of the children we serve expect us to be the encouragement for their children over the 11 weeks of summer. I also have it on good authority that teachers spend anywhere between three weeks and an entire fall semester reteaching their elementary school students what they have forgotten over the long, hot summer months. Case closed… At LHCC, we remain optimistic about the what we do and the potential value of year-round schools. We know that the 11-week summer vacation is highly disruptive for continuous learning. Therefore, we will continue to promote summer literacy camps, along with a fun learning experience during our summer program. We are pleased to be offering summer camps again in 2019, for our seventh year. Who’s going to support us in offering this invaluable program to our awesome children?

We appreciate your comments and support of our families

LHCC 2018 Annual Review

 Annual Review, Community Service, Education, Family  Comments Off on LHCC 2018 Annual Review
Dec 282018
 

Our mission remains grounded in serving our families with grace and dignity.  We are less focused on the big production, that often does not adequately build relationships and has even less longer-term impact.

Our relational and educational goals for the coming school year are as follows:

  • Engage a greater number of families, and engage the whole family, as we seek buy-in to their children’s education and character-building interventions.
  • Target a pre-elementary school child group, where we can collectively make a significant impact in early-learning, before children even start school.

We have deliberately chosen to focus on families with young children, those parents have demonstrated an interest in learning English alongside their child

In 2018, LHCC was one of three organizations selected from over 30 to join the inaugural Cultivate cohort of non-profits in January 2018. CULTIVATE, an incubator and accelerator for emerging nonprofit organizations managed by Next Stage, a Charlotte-based strategy firm for nonprofits. Together with Next Stage, we have developed a strategic business plan as a means to sustaining and growing the mission and vision of LHCC for the next 5 to 10 years.

During 2018, we accomplished the following:

  • Introduced a new east-side program, serving over 70 students in partnership with Missionary Athletes International (MAI) and Albemarle Road United Methodist Church
  • Increased emphasis on family engagement and conversational English with parents of students, creating a very effective cross-cultural exchange
  • Three after-school programs launched in the fall 2018
  • 300 children served during five weeks of summer camp
  • Estimated 4,500 meals served during the summer and 3,000 during the school year
  • Highest percentage of children passing YMCA swim proficiency tests in three years
  • Improved ratio of participants to volunteers in after-school program (less than 2.5 to 1)
  • Three mission-based partnerships directly supported our daily VBS intervention
  • Average 2 hours of literacy or reading intervention per child/day during summer programs
  • Estimated 5,500 hours of literacy/reading intervention during camp ~ highest in 6 years
  • Significantly increased number of parents participating in year-round program since inception

MISSION: Learning Help Centers of Charlotte provides scholastic and social supports to families, mired in generational poverty.

VISION: In partnership with like-minded non-profits, community partners and residents, who live in the communities in which we serve, we advocate for, invest in and mobilize resources to benefit awesome, yet vulnerable, children and their families.

CORE PROGRAM SERVICES:

  • After-school homework and literacy support
  • Summer enrichment & literacy camps
  • Family stabilization and English Language Learning (ELL)
  • Family enrichment
  • Community engagement & community events and celebrations 
 Posted by at 6:00 am
Dec 132018
 

Dear LHCC family and friends,

I would like to introduce the newest member of the LHCC family, Ms. Laura Neal.

Laura comes to us from Missionary Athletes International (MAI)/ Charlotte Eagles soccer club, a faith-based partner organization that works with the families and children on the East-side. Laura grew up in Birmingham AL where she spent 7 years working as a full-time hairstylist before she felt the Lord calling her to work in ministry. She moved to Charlotte NC in 2013, and began working with the Charlotte Eagles in their Urban program in East Charlotte. 

Laura has previously mentored and coached elementary and middle school age girls. While making her transition from the Charlotte Eagles to LHCC, she will continue working with those same young girls and many more of our children on the east-side commencing this month. She will also oversee our tutoring programs in East Charlotte, as well as building relationships with refugee children and women by starting ESL classes in their refuge neighborhood. Laura will begin college in January at CPCC to work toward her goal in becoming a Childhood/Family Counselor. She is a member at East Charlotte Presbyterian Church, and along with Central United and Albemarle Rd Presbyterian churches, will help LHCC to grow partnerships and nurture deeper family relationships in east-Charlotte, many of whom know her as she has developed relationships with them while at MAI over the past 5 years. Laura has been involved in our LHCC summer camps at Central United Methodist Church for the past three years.

Kindly join me in welcoming Laura to our ministry and family! 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

December 7, 2018

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Nov 252018
 

As we count our many blessings at the beginning of this festive season, we are very grateful for all of our supporters, volunteers, and of course, the families and children we have the honor of serving.  You are all tremendously important to Learning Help Centers of Charlotte.  2018 has been an exciting and transformative year as we have continued to serve many more families in our community. Especially gratifying is the growth in our south-side program at St Andrew’s, where two key changes have taken place. Firstly, we have engaged the whole family, with the result that more parent’s are getting involved in our organized activities and educational programming. The second change, which we did not make without prayer and discernment, was to discontinue transporting children to and from the program. The results have been an absolute blessing to behold. Parent’s are more vested in their children’s well-being, and are all bringing their children. It’s a win-win for all. Everyone benefits. See video

Parents were able to show their appreciation this past week and provided a hearty Thanksgiving meal for our awesome volunteers who pour into their children each week. The result? Family, fellowship, and of course food. It was a beautiful picture! Enjoy the festive season. Until next time, so much as it depends on you, be at peace with one another.

Oct 272018
 

Check out Britzia’s very own video 

We are very proud of all our students. Some have just started attending our programs this week, while others have been a part of the LHCC family of parents and students for over five years. Today, we introduce you to Britzia, a young 4th grade student who attends our after-school homework and reading program with her family of two brothers, along mom & dad. She is always ready to greet me with a hug and a smile, and just loves to hang out with her friends and all the other children, ages 3 to 13, before the program starts. She is precocious and always ready to share how the day at school has been for her. Then the homework comes out and the tutoring session begins… A little math today perhaps, a reading quiz some days, but regardless, a glorious opportunity to meet her where she is academically, and encourage her. She is paired with a retired school teacher, Ms. Bettie, who knows a thing or two about helping out. The partnership has been rock solid for over 18 months! Each homework session is followed by some much needed reading time. Last, but not least, some feedback for mom, so that valuable information can be exchanged between mom and Ms. Bettie on what she needs to work on. It’s what we call a cross-cultural exchange of thoughts, ideas, love and encouragement. This takes place for many of our students as well. Britzia is very grateful for the help, as is mom. Check out their very own video and see why. You see, there is something very special about this relationship and many others. It’s the strong participation of the parents in their children’s education and well-being, supported by active staff and volunteers, always ready with a word or two of encouragement!

For information on volunteer opportunities check out our volunteer page. Finally, if you missed our last blog, we featured our Fall fundraiser to seed our year round work. Read it here

Until next time friends, have a blessed weekend and thanks for reading and sharing our blogpost

Brent Morris

Executive Director ~ Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

October 26, 2018

Sep 032018
 

It’s the beginning of September already. Where did the summer go? All CMS students have already returned to school after 11 long hot weeks of summer vacation… I was talking to a friend this week about the summer camps and the progress our students made during the five weeks of camps. We debated what the solution might be to helping children avoid the summer slide.

First, a recap of our camps. We welcomed children from 14 different nations, representing a beautiful tapestry of unity. Our daily morning worship and bible study programs focused on the book of Genesis and God’s creation. Our estimated 50 young campers each week read many chapter books and completed literacy and vocabulary building exercises. Afternoon excursions included arts & crafts, soccer, and swimming and visit to the Mint Museum and Big Air & Sky Sports trampoline parks. We have compiled a fun short video of our children during summer camp, thanks to Isabella, one of our awesome college interns, who is attending NC Chapel Hill as a junior this year.

OK, let’s get back to a possible solution to avoiding the summer slide, where teachers spend between three weeks and one quarter reteaching children what they learned before the summer. In my opinion, there is a simple answer with a complicated solution: eliminate the long summer vacation with year-round schools. This is the precedent in Wake county in our state capital, Raleigh, so why not in the largest school system, Mecklenburg county? The greatest push-back will likely be faculty and teachers who have come to enjoy the long summer vacations.

For children who get plenty of summer intervention, reducing long summer vacations could also be seen an encroachment. For under-served families, summer is the worst time of year, likely sitting at home taking care of younger siblings for their working parents, who might take advantage of “making hay while the sun shines”. Speaking of a harvest, when last did the whole family spend the summer months, planting and partaking in crop harvesting? I’m thinking way back in the pilgrim era. If we cared enough for all children struggling in public schools, and considered all children to be our children, we might see a pathway to year-round intervention and avoid the summer slide.

We were able to accommodate every request to attend summer camp! Hundreds avoided the summer slide and were not subjected to child care at home, watching TV and playing video games. We appreciate your support. If you would like to make a donation, please kindly visit our homepage. We could not do this important work with children, without supporters like you!

Learn more about our summer camps here

The next blog is titled Game Face, and will include an overview of our LHCC program services. 

Until next time,

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

September 1, 2018

 Posted by at 11:42 am
Jun 172018
 

So begins the long hot summer. Summer holidays for most children, the world over, are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family and friends. Many families travel together on school holidays. Not so for most impoverished families whose children are growing up in challenging circumstances, or close to it. We know this first hand, having offered year-round programs to predominantly immigrant and refugee families since 2012.

The US has the auspicious distinction of having one the longest summer vacations of any developed country. According to Organization for Economic and Community Development, the US doesn’t have a uniform school year and summer vacation schedule. It’s therefore hard to tell where American schools stack up in comparison with the rest of the world. But the largest districts in the US have a summer break of 11 to 12 weeks, or about two and a half months, according to data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That’s more time off than kids get in France, Germany, and Poland, and a bit longer than Finland and Norway. This information is also supported by Pew Research

Summer is not a good time for underperforming children in our local public schools. Of the estimated 48,000 kindergarten to third grade students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), approximately 31,000 will not have access to summer enrichment programs. That’s a long 11 weeks to be without some level of enrichment while they often spend the summer cooped up at home, often taking care of younger siblings, and confined to the indoors.

Having provided programs for underserved communities and their children, we have seen the impacts of what is commonly called the summer slide. This is a well-publicized phenomenon whereby children from low-income families lose ground to their more affluent peers every year, on account of not having the needed encouragement at home, access to books, and access to similar literacy enrichment programs.

We, at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, are grateful to be able to address the summer slide for our children for the sixth consecutive year. We want each and every child to return to school more confident, hopeful and encouraged that they can be what they want to be, because they read great books that we provided for them, and spent some of the long summer reading and learning with cool and caring volunteers!

Most of our children join our program two- to three- reading grade levels behind their peers who speak English at home and whose parents most likely attended college. Our goal is to encourage reading and math intervention during the summer so that our students, ages 5 to 11 years, can start the new school year in September no worse than they ended the prior school year. If children stay at grade level that’s a huge win. If they work hard, and stay engaged through learning during the summer, hallelujah! We are doing our bit to encourage children to use their summer wisely. Most importantly, we are also educating parents that summer should not be a time to take a break. We provide various interventions for children and parents alike, so that the summer can be an opportunity to stay on track or make advancements, rather than slide back. Who wants any child of ours to get way behind, and then run the risk of dropping out of school in later years.  A good education should be within reach of every child, even those who could not afford to attend fun educational camps, like their more fortunate peers.

With an average 6 out of 10 (only 39% can read at grade level) to be exact) third grade students not reading at grade level, wouldn’t we be better off with a shorter summer and the opportunity to avoid the summer slide? We will continue to do what we do, one child and family at a time, as we treat all children as our children!

Jun 042018
 

The Leading on Opportunity Report included a definition that speaks to the secret sauce that could very well address the needs of under served children in our city… 

“Social capital is defined as the building of relationships and networks that may very well be the ‘secret sauce’ for helping economically disadvantaged youth navigate systems, gain access to information, and open doors to resources and opportunity. It could change the future lives of many of our community’s children.”

Our mission is aligned with addressing the upward mobility of children in Charlotte. And it’s important. Why? Because Charlotte was ranked dead last or 50 out of 50 major cities for upward mobility of children growing up in poverty.

See what we are doing to address the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force

 Posted by at 10:17 pm