Showing posts with label United Way COMPASS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United Way COMPASS. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

FamilyWize Points Donegan Elementary in the Right Direction



COMPASS
Students at Donegan Elementary School
attend FamilyWize event.
On October 17, FamilyWize joined Donegan Elementary School in a ribbon-tying ceremony celebrating its introduction as the newest United Way COMPASS School in the Lehigh Valley, PA as its lead corporate sponsor. The FamilyWize initiative began in 2005 with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley at the Fowler Family Center, located in Donegan. After recognizing and fulfilling a need within this localized community, CEO Dan Barnes points to Donegan and United Way as one of the key motivating forces that “challenged us to expand.” FamilyWize is so happy for the success it has gained since then and to have come full circle and be able to give back to the community in which it first gained a foothold toward success. Lehigh University also joined FamilyWize as the school’s sponsor.

The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s COMPASS program (Community Partners for Student Success) is an initiative that encourages community partnership with educational institutions to ensure that students have all the resources necessary to follow their dreams and pursue academic success. These resources are not only limited to financial sponsorship but especially focus on mentorship from leaders in the community. It encourages students to take part in community service projects and empowers parents to take a more active role within the student body. COMPASS emphasizes education, leadership and character development to help guide students toward a fulfilling future.

The United Way of the GLV states that the community school model focuses on the following elements, reported by the Coalition for Community Schools that have been proven to increase students’ learning potential:

  • Access to high quality early childhood programs
  • Quality education through high standards for all students
  • A wide range of positive youth development opportunities
  • Services that help students/families to meet their basic needs
  • Mutual respect and effective collaboration among parents, staff and the community
  • Safe and supportive learning environment

Susan Gilmore, President of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, noted that efforts to provide quality education for children in their community cannot be totally fulfilled by the United Way alone, but depend heavily on the support and partnership with businesses and individuals within the community. She spoke about leadership programs within the school, reading programs and activities at the school that were made possible through United Way and participation from the community. The Lehigh University Black Student Union also showed their support by taking part in a performance of “Lean on Me” by Donegal’s students. Some Lehigh University student athletes were also present and Lehigh University president, Alice Gast, discussed their involvement in the “Reading Rocks” program which drives home the importance of education in addition to students’ extracurricular activities.

A student at Donegan, although seemingly nervous, spoke to the crowd with great insight about how involvement from the community, Lehigh University students, United Way volunteers and local small business owners had positively impacted his experience in school.“I like telling people what to do”, he said. “And with the leadership programs here, I could.”  He also spoke about improvement in his reading skills and touted himself as an example of the types of students such partnerships could foster.

United Way
Part of the ribbon that was tied by Dan Barnes,
CEO and Co-Chair at FamilyWize.
When Dan Barnes spoke about FamilyWize’s relationship with Donegan Elementary school, he noted that it began further back than the business relationship that started in 2005. He told about his mother’s involvement with the school as a teacher and continued involvement as the coordinator between FamilyWize and Donegan, today.  Emphasizing the special relationship he has with Donegan both professionally and personally, Dan Barnes volunteered at Donegan when he was in middle school, reading to the younger children . He then tied a ribbon with the FamilyWize name onto a larger ribbon with the other community partners’ names, signifying multiple entities and institutions coming together to help usher in a new future for the students at Donegan Elementary School.

working in Bethlehem PA
It takes a village to make a school successful.
FamiliyWize is proud to embark on this journey
with the people of Lehigh Valley.
The faces of proud parents, students and teachers spoke volumes about how the United Way COMPASS movement inspired real faith and optimism in the community about the future of their school. Many of the speakers talked about their long history of participation in the Bethlehem Area school district. Visitors to the school got the sense that the audience was made up of much more than just individuals but rather a school community that has come together as a family to ensure that their children have the optimal potential for success. FamilyWize is excited and proud to embark on this new journey with them, toward helping improve the lives of people in the Lehigh Valley by creating happier, healthier communities through quality education and community involvement.

Christina Colon
Contributing Writer and FamilyWize Marketing Team Member