March 2013

Helping Homeless Youth Discover Their Potential Through Art and Learning

After each school day in Broward County, Young At Art Museum delivers a free, nationally recognized educational arts program for homeless youth ages 5 to 15 years old. ArtREACH includes academic assistance from School Board certified teachers, arts-based activities, behavioral counseling and cultural field trips in a nurturing and creative environment.

"Words cannot express my joy, gratitude and thankfulness for ArtREACH. I could not have been blessed with a better after school program for my son," said Marie, pictured at right with Giovanni. "He now has a higher self-esteem, better communication skills and self-confidence. As a single parent, I am at ease knowing my son has help with his homework and is in good hands. Once I saw that the staff were all here to help him grow, and not judge him, I was able to see how blessed we were."

Through support from The Jim Moran Foundation and other funding partners, Young At Art's ArtREACH program will serve 60 children and teens this year.

Guiding Foster Teens on Path to Success

Youth in foster care face significant school and life challenges — with approximately 50% not graduating from high school and 25% becoming homeless. Based on the belief that each child deserves an opportunity to be successful, Best Foot Forward Foundation (BFF) focuses on education for Palm Beach County teens in custodial care and those who recently "aged out" at 18. Through academic advising, advocacy and support, BFF works closely with youth and their schools to help prepare them for brighter futures.

One of BFF's high school seniors is a young woman in foster care with a 3.8 GPA and aspirations of attending college. After an unexpected turn of events at the beginning of the year, she experienced three moves and three school changes — while her college and scholarship applications were due. With looming deadlines, BFF helped her acquire transcripts, properly complete sections about parental and residency information and submit her applications accurately and on time. Now attending her fourth high school, this hard-working teen has been accepted to all universities to which she applied.

"We expect to see great things from this young woman whose future is now filled with potential," said Donna Biase, executive co-director of Best Foot Forward.

The organization supports 16 high school juniors, seniors and graduates in its Over-18 Program with funding assistance from The Jim Moran Foundation. Five of them are seniors and all are on-track for graduation.

To learn more about Best Foot Forward, visit their web site.

Backpack Program Combats Hunger in Jacksonville

Backpack Program recipients take home a bag of hearty groceries for the weekend.

For children living in poverty, free school lunches may be their only nutritious meal of the day. Knowing these youth often lack sufficient food at home, Second Harvest North Florida runs a Backpack Program to ensure students receive wholesome groceries prior to each weekend and holiday.

Through a recent grant from The Jim Moran Foundation, the organization expanded its services to four additional sites and enrolled 140 food-insecure families. A typical "backpack" may include pasta, cans of tuna or chicken, granola bars, nuts and fruit — with enough for the student and their family members.

By bridging this hunger gap, more than 700 Jacksonville-area children at 14 schools have a chance to start their Monday mornings alert and ready to learn.

Connect with Second Harvest North Florida.