Joplin’s Bright Futures
Utilizing what is already available, how does an organization serve the community’s children and create lifelong engaged citizens? Look no further than Joplin, Missouri.
Joplin Bright Futures is a program committed to alleviating the high school dropout rate in Joplin schools through various partnerships in the community. Even before the devastating tornado that hit on May 22, 2011, Joplin depended on its business community for engagement in the school system. With a mission focused on improving the future of its students and, more specifically, raising graduation rates, the Joplin Bright Futures program connects resources with those who need them.
Bright Futures uses a simple model that could be replicated in other communities: Individual schools set up their own agendas and partner with businesses to create support systems to address the needs of more than 7,700 Joplin public school students. While the program meets basic needs with school supplies and food drives as well as a clothing distribution center, Bright Futures places significant emphasis on building relationships. Local employees are involved with programs such as Positive Adults Lunching with Students, a one-hour lunch commitment each week to build a connection with a student; and Together Reaching Every Kid, an after-school tutoring program run by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.
C.J. Huff, the superintendent of Joplin schools, expresses the business community’s significant contribution to the program: “We are partnering with our business community on everything from mentoring and tutoring to soft skills training and internships. I truly believe that it has the potential to be a game changer that can bring 21st century skills expected by employers to the classroom, make learning relevant, and reconnect our communities to our schools.”
For more information on the Joplin Bright Futures program and to get ideas on how to replicate a similar program in your area, visit its website.