Reach for the Future!

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Organization Name:
Reach for the Future!
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Organization's Mission Statement

Reach for the Future! exists to motivate and empower children from a Spokane high-needs neighborhood to reach fulfilling educational and career goals by providing a long-term program of mentoring, tutoring, enrichment activities, and tuition assistance for higher education.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

As technology sophistication goes, Reach for the Future!  is in it’s infancy stages.  However, that does not minimize the impact that Microsoft Office Professional has had on our abilities to communicate, keep records and organize events.  <br />Reach for the Future! adopted an entire second grade level in a local high-needs school and guaranteed each student tuition assistance for a college education or vocational training if s/he graduated from high school.  To ensure success in reaching the goal, the appropriate support structure (regular after-school tutoring, mentoring, enrichment activities) is provided with a focus on mitigating barriers to social and academic success and instilling pride in each student’s own competence. <br />Reach for the Future! began around a kitchen table by a small committed group of Spokane citizens who firmly believe that access to higher education and the instillation of hope are key factors in moving children toward the realization of their academic and career potential.<br />The core group was inspired by the national “I Have a Dream” Foundation.  They had seen the segment of the television show “60 Minutes” about Eugene Lang who, in 1981, gave a commencement address to the 6th graders at the Harlem grade school he had attended. After he was told that 75% of the students would not complete high school, he promised the students that he would provide financial support for those who graduated from high school.  90% graduated and most completed college degrees.  From Lang’s promise, the national “I Have a Dream” Foundation was born. <br />Research gathered from nearly 200 projects shows that the “I Have a Dream” program helps break the cycle of poverty and helps reduce the financial and social costs of delinquency.  Close to 70% of those in the criminal justice system dropped out of school.  Young people account for more than 20% of violent crimes in the United States.  Violent juvenile crime peaks between 3 and 4 p.m.  The after-school program helps keep youth off the streets and helps them avoid common adolescent pitfalls such as drug use, teen pregnancy, and dropping out of school.  By staying in school and successfully graduating, the students more than double their lifetime income potential and often set the course for their younger siblings to follow.  Even more significantly, on average, 75% of the students in the program who graduate from high school go on to college.  In achieving a college degree, they will earn an average of 60% more than their peers with a high school diploma.  <br />The research also indicates that the promise of tuition assistance has a tremendous “ripple effect.”  All students in the school learning community are affected directly and indirectly by being exposed to the goal of the program.  Siblings and other students in the school are motivated by the on-site opportunities (e.g., college field trips, cultural experiences, parent workshops) and the instillation of hope for the future that the project provides.  <br />Tuition assistance programs truly change lives and have a positive impact on the community.<br />After consultation with the national “I Have a Dream” Foundation and its projects in Vancouver and Portland, the Spokane group adopted its own name--Reach for the Future!--and became a truly local entity.  After forming a board and becoming a nonprofit organization, REACH met with the Spokane School District and the local colleges and raised enough money to start the program in September, 2008.  To further the scope of the program, REACH also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane which enables the families access to further resources and after-school support for other siblings in the family as well.  <br />After visiting a number of elementary schools in Spokane, REACH selected a school that met the criteria of high needs, diversity, proximity to the Boys and Girls Club, and the number of students that it could successfully manage and support for this first project.  The REACH dream is to raise enough interest in the community and enough funding to select other schools in the future.  Kalamazoo, Michigan has made such a commitment to all of its students in the “Kalamazoo Promise”.<br />REACH hired a Project Coordinator to manage the program on a daily basis.  The Project Coordinator is responsible for the following: developing the after-school programs (both educational and recreational), working with school personnel to target student needs, organizing volunteers for tutoring and other activities, arranging community service activities, partnering with local organizations, engaging parent involvement, and helping students with college and career planning.<br />The REACH Board of Directors is responsible for the success of the program from onset through college. The three Spokane couples who serve as Sponsors are responsible for guaranteeing that the necessary funds are raised and for evaluating and adjusting the program to ensure success for each student.<br />REACH invests money raised for tuition assistance in the Washington State Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET) which enables the program to pay for future college expenses at the tuition cost when the funds were invested.  College tuition is paid directly from the GET program to the institutions of higher learning.  At graduation, many of the students will earn scholarships, so the REACH program contribution would provide the difference needed.  The area colleges are enthusiastic about providing tutors, campus tours, help filling out scholarship and application forms, as well as some scholarships. <br />The Reach for the Future! program is an opportunity to dramatically change the future lives of young people through education and to help sustain Spokane as an outstanding community.<br />Microsoft Office Professional Plus has enabled Reach for the Future!  to create a database utilizing Access that includes all of our donors, all of our annual auction attendants, and auction donations.  We use this database to know who bought, contributed and what was paid for all auction items.  We are also able to use it at the auction and print out the auction receipt for each person as they check out.   Within minutes, we have a list of who bought the item, what the item sold for and a total profit from the auction.  Without this, the excitement of knowing how much we made that night immediately is lost.<br />In our everyday life, we use Microsoft Office Professional Plus constantly.  There is always a letter to write in word, a bulk mailing to put out, a pamphlet to make in publisher to help in our fundraising, keeping a running total of income and expenses and financial summary in Excel, and a story to tell in power point.  Microsoft Outlook gets us where we need to be on time and on the right day.  <br />Our Project Coordinator is very creative and combined with all of the innovative tools within Office, she is able to make incentive certificates, fun games and puzzles and letters home to our 47 Reach students, telling the parents how great their kids are.       <br />We have over 40 volunteer tutors and over 40 lunch buddies who we keep track of and schedule on a daily basis.  Communication with the tutors and lunch buddies is imperative and we are successful only because of Microsoft Office.  <br />There is really no end to how we use the tools in Microsoft Office Professional Plus.  Life at Reach for the Future!  would come to a stand still if we did not have “Our Office”.   <br />Thank you, Microsoft, for making such a useful software program that provides us with everything and “more” that we need to help 47 high needs kids get to college.<br />                                                                                                                                                                                               

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Optimize Mission Delivery
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