Expand Their Environment: Support After-School Programs

Message from Lt. Colonel John Turner

Environment is everything for a child. There’s a big world out there full of possibilities for them to encounter. Their curiosity and thirst for knowledge are at the center of everything they do, often emulating what’s around them to better understand what they’re experiencing. They are a product of their environment, soaking up all the opportunity it has to offer – from lessons in life and academics, to new people and cultures.

But children only know what they’re exposed to. Not every child has access to fully develop their passion for the unknown.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 33.2% of Detroit residents live in poverty. That’s more than twice the poverty rate in Michigan. And considering the city is home to nearly 640,000 residents, that means more than 200,000 are living in poverty. More families experiencing poverty means more Detroit youth are born into a community with low graduation rates, fewer college degrees and less opportunity for a livable wage.

But the cycle of poverty doesn’t stop there. Living in poverty significantly impacts a child’s education. Students from low-income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes. And children who live below the poverty line are 1.3 times more likely to develop mental delays or learning disabilities than those who don’t live in poverty.

All these children know is life in the city. They live in an environment that doesn’t offer them the exhilaration of learning something new in after-school tutoring, taking a field trip to the great outdoors or making new friends at summer camp. As a result, they are limited from reaching their academic and social potential.

Our children are our future – but what about their futures? Let us recall Proverbs 22:6 – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

It is clear children need exposure to new environments and ideas through enrichment, the arts and overall academic support. That’s exactly what The Salvation Army’s after-school programs offer.

There, kids have the opportunity to be kids. Rather than focusing on a single pillar of growth, The Salvation Army’s after-school programs serve the whole child – nurturing mind, body and spirit to help equip kids with the tools and resources they need to flourish in the classroom and beyond. This includes making new friends and participating in activities they could not otherwise afford, including homework assistance, counseling, sports, clubs, dance, art, music, extracurricular activities and so much more. The Salvation Army’s no-fee and low-cost after-school programs are available for anyone in need, offering a safe environment for children to learn and grow.

The students who participate in our after-school programs really rely on them. These are kids who might otherwise go home to an empty house, and like most youth nowadays, are recovering and catching up from lost time due to the pandemic. And you can help!

Beginning Monday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 14, The Salvation Army is launching Love Beyond the Classroom Presented by Toyota, a summer fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to support after-school programs for Detroit youth. Toyota has generously kicked things off with a $50,000 matching donation, which means all community donations will be doubled and fully matched, dollar-for-dollar. A $25 donation becomes $50, a $50 donation becomes $100, and so on – all to support the more than 450 Detroit students who are served at The Salvation Army’s three corps community centers in Detroit – Conner Creek, Temple and Grandale.

We could not do what we do without you. The Salvation Army relies on community support to continue providing these impactful programs for the youth. When you give to The Salvation Army, you provide funding for programs that help support kids’ educational needs.

If we show Love Beyond the Classroom, then we can help start Detroit youth off on a path towards a happy, healthy and hopeful future. Together, we can provide them with the environment they need to expand their horizons.

Blessings,

Lt. Colonel John Turner

Divisional Commander and Regional CEO, The Salvation Army Great Lakes Division

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