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They say it takes a village to raise a child. One local non-profit is proving that it may only take a neighborhood…so long as you’ve got passionate people involved. Partnering volunteers from area churches and universities with Fresno elementary schools, Every Neighborhood Partnership hopes to give children the support they need to succeed, ultimately empowering entire neighborhoods to thrive.
In 2002, a few like-minded members of local churches reached out to elementary schools within Fresno Unified looking to broker a partnership. They targeted schools in central Fresno, where test scores were low and poverty was high, and offered to provide whatever support was needed. Susan B. Anthony and Webster were the first two schools to get support from volunteers. Six years later, ENP was formally established. Today, 50 elementary schools are served by its volunteers.
The goal of the organization is not to preach or teach, but to identify the needs of a school within a particular neighborhood, and help get them met. The partnerships between volunteers and schools vary, but generally follow a five-step process. At Lowell Elementary in central Fresno, four steps are currently at work: a Saturday sports program, campus support (classroom volunteering, mentoring, after-school programs), neighborhood outreach and parent engagement. Other schools currently only have one or two steps. A fifth step, economic development, focuses on the job creation and readiness within each neighborhood. Whenever possible, schools are matched with churches from the same neighborhood; the goal being to see the neighborhood mobilize in support of itself.
Here, Andrew Feil, ENP’s executive director, talks about how volunteers are getting involved in children’s lives, why it’s important to give kids extra support early on, and shares an example of how ENP is changing the futures of the children involved.
You can learn more about ENP on its website or on Facebook.