Her mother was incarcerated. Her father was nowhere to be found. Grandma was doing her best, but had to work late hours to make ends meet.
Twelve-year-old Samantha often arrived to school tired and hungry, not having eaten any breakfast. Her grades were poor and she frequently lacked the school supplies and adult support to adequately complete her homework.
That is, until she met Jamie Martinez, a case manager for Building A Generation in Redlands.
When Jamie learned about Samantha’s situation, she invited her to talk and began developing an individualized plan to nurture her potential. Over the coming 12 weeks, the two met on a weekly basis, discussing her family challenges and struggles in the classroom. Jamie was able to provide Samantha needed food and breakfast, school supplies, tutoring assistance, and worked to improve communication between her teacher and her Spanish-speaking grandmother.
After just two months, Samantha’s homework completion increased from just 40 percent to more than 90 percent. She was showing up for school looking more rested and learned to ask for help when needed. In her teacher’s words, “Samantha is like a totally new kid — a night and day difference.”
Building A Generation operates Family Resource Centers on four elementary school campuses within Redlands Unified School District and has established an impressive track record for helping to turn students’ struggles into successes.
The nonprofit serves almost 2,000 families annually, offering a variety of services in some of the area’s neighborhoods of highest need. By partnering with local churches, community volunteers, United Way, and San Bernardino County, the organization connects struggling families with food, clothing, adult education, parenting classes, health assistance, after-school programs, counseling and child development services.
For students like Danny, these services can make the difference between failure and success in the classroom. Danny’s mother knew she needed help for her first-grade son but didn’t know where to turn, until she learned about Building A Generation. Danny was having anxiety when getting ready for school to the point of throwing up and his school attendance had become a problem.
Again, it was a case manager who was able to meet with Danny, explore the root of his struggles and help his mother provide the support he needed. After connecting Danny with counseling, making some changes in his classroom, and simply giving him a safe outlet on the school campus whenever he needed it, things started to change. Over a three-month period, Danny’s tardiness decreased from three days a week to consistent on-time arrival, and his participation in class greatly improved.
Building A Generation aims to reduce child abuse and family violence and increase students’ chances for becoming healthy and self-sufficient. That’s a goal that’s clearly good for our entire community — building our next generation for success.
I am proud to call Building A Generation one of our United Way Community Impact Partners and am grateful for their dedicated and caring team of case managers. To learn more, visit www.buildingageneration.org.
Gregory Bradbard is president and CEO of the Inland Empire United Way.