Reading Benchmark Shows Success, Areas for Improvement

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At Neighborhood Focus, one important piece of our mission is to help guide students academically, providing support where families may be unable to do so. With many of our students speaking English as a second language, our after school and summer learning help becomes even more critical, as we work to help students reach important milestones in school.

But as with any quality student enrichment program, the effort is only as good as the progress being demonstrated. Our mission is to “Build Hope, One Life a Time.” We make a point to monitor each student’s performance in school, as well as review their progress in our tutoring program, to see where we need to adjust, or search for additional interventions to help the child succeed.

In the fall and in the spring, we administer two reading benchmark assessments, including the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), which tests word recognition; and the Criterion Test for Reading Placement (CTRP), which tests reading placement level.

We administered the reading benchmark assessments with 18 elementary students in our LAUNCH program, and ten middle and high school students in our ACCELERATE program. At the outset, ten of the elementary students, and four of the middle and high school students were reading below grade level.

While we were able to measure reading progress in a majority of the participating students, many still assessed below grade level when reviewed again in the spring. We attribute some of that stalled progress to lack of consistency in attending after school each day. We know from studies that students who are “high attenders” of quality out of school time programs are more likely to demonstrate measurable academic gains in school.

We also used qualitative measurement to help determine how students learn best. For example, we saw some students perform better working one-on-one with an academic tutor, as opposed to having other students working in the room. To accommodate some of our more visual learners, we implemented word flash card practice to improve fluency.

Despite the lack of attendance holding back some students, other students demonstrated truly amazing progress. One elementary age boy, who spoke very little English at the beginning of the school year, attended our after school program 95% of the time. With consistent work alongside a tutor using Word List binders, he made wonderful improvement. By December, he was reading independently, and by the end of the school year he had progressed an incredible four grade levels! His success story is just a single example of many of our students who showed one, two or more grade level reading gains after working alongside our dedicated tutors and volunteers.

As we head towards the 2019-2020 school year, we are already mapping out some goals for this part of our program, including:

  • Establishing more benchmarks for reading, including fluency, comprehension, word recognition, building vocabulary, understanding context, reasoning, memory and attention.

  • Increase progress levels and student achievement.

  • Improve student attendance, especially with the older students.

  • Recruit more tutoring volunteers, and possibly a substitute volunteers list.

We can build hope one life a time, but we can’t do it without you! Please prayerfully consider serving as a reading tutor for our students. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a child learn how to read right before your eyes! You can make a difference at Neighborhood Focus.

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Watch How Our Summer Enrichment Program Impacts Students

We’re looking forward to serving 150 students grades 1-12 for their best summer yet at our 16th Annual Summer Enrichment program! From worship, to STEAM labs, discipleship, field trips, swimming and much more, our students spend the summer with us learning, playing and growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Watch this short video to learn more about our Summer Enrichment program, and please prayerfully consider how you can help support our mission. It costs $500 per child to attend our summer program. We appreciate your support and prayers!

Help Kids in Greenville, SC Experience Their Best Summer Yet!

Help Kids in Greenville, SC Experience Their Best Summer Yet!

Summer is right around the corner, and Neighborhood Focus is gearing up to host the best summer enrichment program around for 2nd - 12th grade students! Our program reaches students who need it most, students who otherwise might not have a safe place to stay or anything meaningful to do once school lets out.

At Neighborhood Focus, students will enjoy days spent playing with new friends, participating in STEAM enrichment activities, working alongside mentors to develop and sharpen their reading skills, going on a mix of fun and educational field trips, and most importantly, growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. 

GET TO KNOW: Michael Trotter, Volunteer

GET TO KNOW: Michael Trotter, Volunteer

Neighborhood Focus is special because of our volunteers. Every week, our volunteers selflessly donate their time to develop positive relationships with our students, helping with homework after school, serving as mentors and helping each child grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Michael Trotter, one of our valued volunteers at Neighborhood Focus. Michael has served within our organization for the past 2.5 years, having returned back to Greenville after living for 15 years in Fort Mill, SC.

Read on to learn more about Michael and why volunteering is important to him.

Par 3 for Hope Raises $9,000 for 2019 Summer Enrichment Program

The Par 3 for Hope Golf Benefit on March 21 was a huge success! With 14 hole sponsors and 54 players we raised almost $9,000 to support our 16th annual summer enrichment program, which will allow youth to receive discipleship, character education and summer learning in a fun, Christ-centered environment. Building on the theme of Power Up, campers in 1st thru 12th grades will be challenged to raise their game because knowing God and trusting in Jesus fills each of us with the Fruit of the Spirit! Thank you to each of our sponsors and to everyone who came out to support, volunteer and participate. The power duo team of Rob Reeves and Robert Thompson wrestled first place from two other worthy contenders and David Williams had a hole-in-one. Check out some of the highlights below! 



SPECIAL THANKS TO EACH OF OUR SPONSORS WHO HELPED MAKE THIS 1ST PAR 3 FOR HOPE EVENT A HUGE SUCCESS!

GET TO KNOW: Wilfredo Gonzalez, Accelerate Program Manager

GET TO KNOW: Wilfredo Gonzalez, Accelerate Program Manager

Each month, we’re going to introduce you to someone from Neighborhood Focus we think you might like to know better! It might be a staff person, a volunteer, a student or parent. There are so many people involved with Neighborhood Focus that make it such a special place, we want you to get to know the people behind it!

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Wilfredo Gonzalez, our Accelerate Program Manager working with our middle and high school students. Read on to learn more about Wilfredo’s background, hobbies and interests.

Chairman's Update

Hard to believe that Summer 2018 is drawing to a close. What a wonderful summer it has been for Neighborhood Focus and the children we serve. 

Over 140 children enjoyed time together at the three camps. They were fully immersed in Christian discipleship, provided daily opportunities for summer reading, had fun, visited places outside of their normal surroundings, had more fun, and, more importantly, were given the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Many in our middle school group came to learn of the hope of Christ and asked Him to take control of their lives.  WHAT A BLESSING!

Registration for the NF Afterschool program is now well underway, with over 45 applications received by August 1. What a confirmation for your involvement in making a positive difference in the lives of these children. Last Spring, with the help of a generous donor, we were able to introduce a much-needed remedial reading program that raised the reading level of our most at-risk students by 1-2 grade levels in just 3 months. We will be continuing this program for all age groups in the coming school year and adding new supports for remedial math. Based on a successful pilot this summer, we will also be partnering with FableVision Learning to offer innovative STEAM-based enrichment activities that nurture the 4C’s – creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration – important social and emotional learning skills that all children need to reach their full potential. We look forward to sharing with you, our supporters, the resulting metrics from this initiative. 

We are pleased to share that Forestville Baptist Church will begin services in both English and Spanish on our campus beginning in September. Their merger with Berea Heights Baptist Church will bring new spiritual development opportunities for the community and the families of our children. This merger is applauded by our Board, as it will bring added facilities support to our long-term lease of the property as well as volunteer support for our programs. 

As you can see, NF has been busy and is continuing to expand its reach and programming to the vast number of underprivileged children in our community.  Christian discipleship remains foremost in our approach, and we continue to strive for excellence in providing high quality academic support, spiritual development and life skills in a safe, fun environment. 

Our accomplishments are merely a reflection of your partnership with NF, both in faithful prayer and financial support.  We hope that you are pleased with the goals of the organization and the measured outcomes of our programs.  We ask that you please consider your engagement in our mission for the upcoming school year. Without you being involved, we could not continue to bring the Hope that these children so desperately need.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Director, Keith Groce.  If you want to send financial support for the Fall term, please mail to P.O. Box 9127, Greenville, SC 29604 or you can conveniently invest online at www.neighborhoodfocus.org. More importantly, please pray for the children God has called us to serve, our staff, and our board as they work toward making an eternal difference for the less fortunate.

Thank you,

John H. Bearden

Chairman

PS – For the latest news and updates on Neighborhood Focus, including pictures and videos from our successful 2018 summer camps, follow us on Facebook or Instagram.  If you are not currently receiving periodic email communications from Neighborhood Focus, and would like to, please contact Keith Groce at kgroce@neighborhoodfocus.org.  

We're Looking For a Few Good People

As Neighborhood Focus continues to grow and expand, we increasingly need the help of dependable volunteers for a variety of one-off and ongoing volunteer responsibilities.  There is a fit just for about everyone interested in helping, with a particular need for help during the 3-6pm Afterschool hours on Monday – Thursday.  For more information, please contact Nancy Quintanilla at (864) 451-4684 or nquintanilla@neighborhoodfocus.org.

Tau Kappa Epsilon Partners with Neighborhood Focus

For the 3rd year in a row, the Gamma-Mu Colony of Tau Kappa Epsilon at Furman University has selected Neighborhood Focus as its 2018-2019 local philanthropy.  Tau Kappa Epsilon members will proactively support Neighborhood Focus with student volunteers for the afterschool program and through monetary donations to the academic needs of the organization.  The Gamma-Mu Colony of Tau Kappa Epsilon was installed as a chapter at Furman on May 19, 1950.  Its mission is “to aid men in their mental, moral, and social development for life,” according to Matt Pleasant, TKE Philanthropy Chairman.