Churches are a great community resource and can be a benefit to local public schools; but often times, fear of litigation and parental push back will limit opportunities for religious organizations’ involvement. With public school funding frequently taking a backseat in struggling economic areas, the resources that the local church can bring to the table are now more important than ever.
To address this issue, a new breed of nonprofit organization is cropping up with the intent of connecting churches with local schools to address specific areas of need within the school. This allows for a buffer between the support and the religious association, while providing the school with much needed expertise.
One example is, At The Core (www.lifeatthecore.org), located in Spokane, WA. At The Core provides weekend and summer meals for children on free or reduced lunch programs, which make up a large portion of children attending public schools in the area. They work through the elementary school social worker to identify qualifying children and churches support the children through a monthly support fee. Once the food is delivered to the school, it is discreetly placed in the child’s backpack during recess. They’ve recently been partnering with local businesses as well to bolster the number of children being fed.
Another example is Kids Hope USA (www.kidshopeusa.org), a nationwide nonprofit that connects church members for a one-on-one mentoring relationship with at-risk elementary children. They describe the program as “One Child, One Hour, One Church, One School”, focusing the time and efforts of the church volunteers.
The Turn-Around Agenda (TTA), a ministry of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship (www.turnaroundagenda.org), is cultivating communities through a church and school partnership focusing on activities such as mentoring, life skills education, student leadership development and a local Youth Center. They list dozens of schools they are currently involved with in the Dallas, TX area.
If you don’t have an organization like this in your area, there are other ways to individually support your local public schools:
- Adopt a School: Pray for the students and leaders and provide resources for school activities such as art classes, after-school programs, Christmas gifts and food drives.
- School Supply Kids: Deliver kits that contain the required school supplies for teachers and social workers to hand out.
- Clothing Drives: Especially in areas with harsh winters, some children may not have the clothing they need for outdoor recess. Collect coats, boots, gloves and hats for your adopted school.
Check out more ideas here.
With these great nonprofits and all of the wonderful ideas you can find through websites like School Church Partners (www.schoolchurchpartners.org), there is no reason to not start supporting the school closest to you today.