The ‘First Friday Update’ of October highlights how GO Campaign invests in Local Heroes to address the needs of vulnerable children around the world. We don’t just give money to our grantees. GO Campaign discovers, funds, supports and strengthens the capacity of grassroots organizations so they can better succeed in their mission and transform their communities.
As an example, since 2014, GO Campaign has partnered with Spring Initiative to address the needs of vulnerable children in Clarksdale, Mississippi — one of the poorest counties in the poorest state in the United States. GO Local Heroes Anja Thiessen and Bianca Zaharescu empower youth who face adverse academic, social, emotional, and economic circumstances and attend under-resourced public schools. Thanks to GO Campaign’s support, Spring has expanded the capacity of their after-school tutoring program to include more children, launched a new program to address the mental health needs of children across Clarksdale, and garnered more attention and support for their vital work! GO even helped grant a wish to a Clarksdale family in need of a miracle by connecting them with a donor who wanted to transform a family’s life by providing them with a new home.
Spring Initiative’s tutoring program focuses on children who need individualized attention the most and whose needs are not met by their schools. Students are referred to the program by school officials, child protective services, and youth court. Spring kids face behavioral challenges, many have been held back repeatedly or were moved to special education classrooms, and all have either directly experienced or witnessed trauma. Recognizing the number of children requiring Spring’s services exceeds the capacity of the organization, GO Campaign encouraged Anja and Bianca to think of ways to address the needs of the larger community. They envisioned the Community Action Mental and Emotional Outcomes (CAMEO) Program aimed at providing youth within the Coahoma County currently unable to be served by the Spring Initiative Program with the mental health services needed to overcome trauma and thrive. In July 2017, GO Campaign provided Spring Initiative with a grant to launch CAMEO. Over this past year, the Spring Team worked with teachers, counselors, school administrators, parents/caregivers, youth, and community leaders to teach listening and communication strategies. The program directly benefited 78 children. Since the workshops, the Spring team has witnessed the positive impact on attendees and the children. While they still have more work to do before they reach their goal of addressing the needs of all the children in Coahoma County, this pilot program helped Anja and Bianca gain greater clarity regarding next steps, identify key stakeholders, and provided them with important data regarding the impact of providing mental health services to children in their community. And when a donor came to GO Campaign asking to fund a transformative project in honor of his wife for Valentine’s Day, we were able connect the donor with a struggling family in Clarksdale who now have a new home, a car, and a completely new lease on life.
When reflecting on their partnership with GO, Anja and Bianca said:
“It is truly impossible to put into words how our partnership with GO has impacted our organization overall. This has absolutely been one of the most meaningful, beneficial, and instrumental partnerships we have been lucky enough to develop over the entire course of our last seven years as an organization. GO Campaign has helped us open countless new doors, to individuals that are interested in showing their own support for Spring as an organization, whether financially or in a myriad of other ways. It has helped us strengthen our relationships with other foundations by pointing to the long-term nature of our positive involvement with GO Campaign, which helps build trust in our leadership. Last, but not least, GO Campaign has challenged us to fine tune and strengthen our mission, vision, and goals over the years by always asking the right questions, bringing up new opportunities, being willing to imagine creative possibilities for partnership, and showing such dedication to the core work of Spring.”
Spring Initiative is a brilliant example of GO’s grantmaking model in action. We are proud to have assisted their efforts to address the needs of vulnerable children in the Mississippi Delta, and we are committed to ensuring the success of all our Local Heroes around the world.