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Center of Hope Family Services Summer ELEVATE Program

By Brigette Burnett
Special to The Truth

Wherever you were on this universe, I bet you can vividly remember what you were doing when COVID-19 took over the globe and caused non-essential workers to shut their doors, stay inside and glue their eyes to the television screens watching numbers increase day after day.

First Lady Willetta Perryman and
Tracee Perryman, PhD

The world was not ready for COVID-19 and especially not our school systems. In the space of uncertainties and social distancing, Center of Hope Family Services decided to take their literacy and youth development programs into each home of their students enrolled in their ELEVATE Program.

Tracee Perryman, PhD, CEO of the Center of Hope, said, "August will be here before you know it, and it will be time for our children to return to school. Whether they return to the traditional classroom or are learning from home, we are prepared. Center of Hope and its ELEVATE staff have been working with national experts to make sure our children have access to every advantage so they can learn under the most optimal conditions."

This local non-profit has created free virtual classes for children enrolled in Martin Luther King Academy for Boys, Old West End Academy, Robinson Elementary and Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls. Students will enjoy Music Mondays with Dr. P and theater and drama classes on Celebrate ME Tuesdays. The young participants will tap into their inner peace and relax on Wellness Wednesdays, show their dance moves and groove on Thursdays, and end the week in the kitchen cooking and crafting with Willetta Perryman, Tracee’s mother.

Dr. Perryman secured talented experts from around the Midwest to teach weekly classes that will benefit children in our community. One of the instructors is Dr. RAS a/k/a Mikey Courtney, an acclaimed dance professional. Courtney’s life mission is to share his gift of the expressive arts by spreading universal understanding to communities and cultures across the globe. He has collaborated with artists and companies worldwide, including Pilobolus, Raven-Symoné, and the Marley family, to name a few.

The Center of Hope ELEVATE Program provides literacy, youth development, and coding programs to help students perform better on standardized tests, avoid delinquency, and become marketable to enter the workforce upon high school graduation. Before COVID-19, students in grades k-4 would enjoy weekly enrichment activities and free dinner and snacks from Monday until Thursday.

ELEVATE has achieved results in line with promoting students’ development, school attendance, and positive behavior. Three years ago, MLK’s suspension rate dropped from 31.7 percent between 2017-18 to 5.9 percent the next school year. Almost half of the regular participants maintained or reduced their total number of unexcused absence hours between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school year. Additionally, 100 percent of MLK parents and 92 percent of OWE parents reported that the ELEVATE program helped their child at least somewhat with getting along with other students. They agreed that the ELEVATE program staff cared about their child and wanted to see them succeed. One hundred percent of school staff members reported that the ELEVATE program helped students at least somewhat with social skills and interacting with others.

The Ohio Department of Education awarded Center of Hope two of the four grants allocated to Toledo in 2017. In 2019, Center of Hope was the only Toledo agency to secure an Ohio Department of Education 21st CCLC grant, which they acquired for their ELEVATE at Robinson Elementary School site.

With those funds and other grants and in-kind donations from companies and individuals in the Toledo community, Tracee Perryman said they plan to continue “serving our families and our communities with dignity and respect. We know when families and communities are at the center of what we do, and when we genuinely provide services that close gaps in opportunity and access, then our families and our communities will rise to the occasion and will thrive.”




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/26/20 01:04:05 -0400.

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