Back to School with Bellevue LifeSpring
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Kids in Bellevue are headed back to school! That includes the 18% of students living in poverty in the school district. As students head back to class, they may not know that one in five of their classmates is living in poverty and at risk of hunger each day. These students often struggle to succeed in school due to factors beyond their control like food insecurity, insufficient resources and instability in the home.
Bellevue LifeSpring programs help to set kids up for success. Thanks to the support of their Bellevue community, more students will be equipped to achieve their academic goals this fall.
Summer Meals Fill a Nutritional Gap
Every child experiences some learning loss over the summer. Away from school during the ten weeks of break, it’s easy for lessons to slip away. Students living in poverty are especially vulnerable, due, in part, to poor nutrition.
Over the summer, low-income students lack access to the free and reduced-price meals they usually receive at school. Replacing these meals places an additional strain on already tight budgets and often, their families are forced to make hard choices between regular meals and other household expenses like rent. Without proper nutrition, kids living in poverty may return to the classroom in September much farther behind than they were in June.
Breaktime-Mealtime™ provides grocery store vouchers for families to purchase food during breaks from school, ensuring their kids receive consistent nutrition during summer months. Over 1,700 students received vouchers through Breaktime-Mealtime this summer, helping them to retain what they learned and return to the classroom ready to learn.
“This program is extremely helpful for families experiencing homelessness,” shared one Family Connections Center counselor. “A family in our school is currently living in a shelter. They can’t cook and they don’t have space to store food. With the vouchers, they can buy simple deli items from Safeway.”
Back to Class with Confidence
Remember your first day of school? Picking out the perfect outfit, wanting to make a good impression? Wanting to feel confident and fit in with other students? For students living in poverty, new clothing is a luxury they often can’t afford.
Like other kids, they’re growing quickly; the jeans that fit in June are too small or too short. And, like other kids, they want to wear clothing that expresses their personality and makes them feel confident.
Bellevue LifeSpring’s Clothes-4-Kids™ program provides gift cards for students to purchase new clothing, so they can start the school year feeling like they fit in with their peers.
This fall, nearly 500 kids are going back to school with shoes and clothing purchased with Clothes-4-Kids gift cards. “They don’t have to go to school worried about if their clothes are going to be too small, too little, too this, too that,” the mother of one recipient shared. “Everything matters on that first day of school.”
On Track for Success
The Bellevue School District has reported that 78% of students who need to take summer school classes come from low-income families. The stress of living in shelters, missing meals or working after school to make ends meet takes a toll on kids, emotionally and academically.
Grads-On-Track™ awards summer school scholarships to low-income students to recover credit toward graduation. Even for students enrolled in the free and reduced-price lunch program, a summer class starts at $140, which is far beyond what most families in need can afford. Grads-On-Track provides these students with the opportunity to retake their classes and graduate on time with their peers. This summer, Grads-On-Track scholarships funded classes for 181 students.
“Students end up needing to retake classes for a variety of reasons. It may be because they struggled academically in the course, it may be because they were experiencing homelessness for a semester. Kids deal with a lot these days. And so, having Grads-On-Track™ is a wonderful opportunity.” – Melissa Slater, McKinney-Vento Advocacy Coordinator for the Bellevue School District.
Individuals like you are helping to make the difference for 3,600+ students and their families in Bellevue. Your support of Bellevue LifeSpring means these students can experience the first day of school just like their peers, feeling confident, well-fed and ready to learn.