LightHouse Services Expand to Serve More Children in our Community

Since 1989, Volunteers of America of North Louisiana has been providing academic support, family services and cultural experiences to at-risk youth and their families in Shreveport-Bossier. During the 2015-2016 school year, LightHouse Services will expand to new local schools and continue to partner with Communities In Schools (CIS), the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization.

Last year, 773 children were served in out-of-school time programs. These programs include 3 community-based LightHouse sites, as well as Forest Hill Elementary, Judson Elementary and Lakeshore Middle School. This year, an out-of-school time program will also be offered at University Elementary School.

Among the children served in the out-of-school time programs last year, 99% stayed in school, 100% avoided teen pregnancy and involvement in the juvenile justice system. The overall average GPA for these students was 2.75. Thirteen year old Simone, a Highland Center LightHouse student since age 7 says it best “the LightHouse is a wonderful place. It’s like school, but a 1000 times better because you’re getting homework done, learning life skills and being with family”. Her mom, a single parent who works two jobs likes it because “it is a safe place where she can learn”.

After a successful pilot year, Volunteers of America of North Louisiana will continue to collaborate with CIS offering in-school services. Using the CIS model, site coordinators evaluate the needs of the school and students. With over 95% of the students being served low income, they bring to school the burdens of poverty. Their lack of basic necessities like food, shelter, medical care and clothing make it impossible to focus on learning. The goal of this partnership is to eliminate these obstacles to students’ learning and graduating.

School-wide services that address these basic needs might include clothing closets, food pantries, special assemblies or job shadowing programs. In addition, a selected group of students are also identified to receive more intensive services such as, behavior counseling, mentoring, tutoring and helping students plan for the future.

Last year, site coordinators were located inside Booker T.Washington, Linwood Public Charter School and J.S. Clark Elementary. Over 1,300 children were served with school-wide services and 108 children received the more intensive services. Shakailah, a student at Booker T. Washington, worked with the site coordinator last school year to improve her academics and behavior. Shakailah recently wrote a letter this summer to the school’s CIS coordinator.

“I am actively listening and trying to work on my attitude and being respectful to all adults with the help of what you teach me and the skills we practice,” she said. “It is very hard to erase what you are use to doing and try to do better but because of you, I’m trying to be a better me.”

This year, a site coordinator will also be located at Mansfield Elementary School in Desoto Parish.

To learn more about the Communities In Schools model and how you can help tutor or mentor children inside local schools, please attend the following recruitment events:

  • Tuesday, August 18th 2015, 5 – 6 pm at Mansfield Elementary School, 1915 McArthur Drive, Mansfield, LA 71052
  • Tuesday, August 25th 2015, 5 – 6 pm at The Highland Center, 520 Olive Street, Shreveport, LA 71104

For more information about these events or LightHouse Services, visit our website at www.voanorthla.org or call 318.221.2669. The programs are funded in part by The Community Foundation, United Way, Grayson Foundation and other local community supporters.

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