Merri Ann Perkins Crowther
Our Lead Partner, United Way of Salt Lake, in partnership with Davis School District, focuses our Center on "changing the odds" - so every child has the same chance to succeed in school and in life. Together with other community partners, we are getting great results and are closing "the academic gap" between children growing up in disadvantaged situations and those that aren't using a collective impact model.
We have a visionary Board of Directors and staff along with an army of volunteers, donors, and partners. Our dedicated staff knows that sometimes you can't help a child without helping the whole family. If a child slept in their car the night before coming to school because their family had nowhere else to go, it will be difficult for that child to concentrate fully on their classwork. The issues affecting each child vary in as many ways as there are children in our District/County (addiction, hunger, mental health, abuse, divorce, poverty, disabilities, etc. with a multitude of combinations). Solutions to the issues are complex and vary with each child and each family situation. Most solutions are not a quick fix, but a lengthy journey to family stability both financially and emotionally. This is not a "one-size-fits-all" program. We have Family Support Specialists that go into the home when needed and assess the family's needs and strengths. Immediate needs are addressed first with community resources and then long-term goals for the family are developed using the Five Protective Factors, an evidence based method. We also offer on-site services such as: support for families with a child with a disability, Basic Computer Classes, High School Diploma/GED, English for Speakers of Other Languages (for adults and children), Head Start, Early Head Start, Citizenship Classes, Drivers Education, therapy at no-cost to students at selected Title 1 schools with high levels of poverty, Spanish Classes, Immigrant Mothers groups, and a basic needs closet. We also work closely with school principals to bring in programs such as Leadership Clubs, Math Clubs, AmeriCorps, and other opportunities that serve the whole population at a school.
Sometimes it takes a village to raise a child--we connect our local resources or "village" to the schools so our teachers can focus on what they do best--teach.