FROM BASIC NEEDS TO BRIGHT FUTURES: HOW STATUS SOLUTIONS NETWORK AND NEIGHBORHOOD BRIDGES ARE TRANSFORMING EDUCATION
One of the most heartbreaking things teachers often experience are students who are eager to learn, but struggle with attendance or focus because of their home life. Often this stems from basic needs not being met. When I was a teacher I often came across these situations. It’s hard to be mad at a student who didn’t finish their homework when you know they spent the night in a shelter, or their family is dependent on a food bank, or it’s more than evident that they don’t have regular access to a washing machine and dryer. The average person often forgets that beyond the classroom, students bring with them a complex tapestry of emotions, experiences, and challenges that significantly influence their ability to learn and thrive academically. Teachers never forget this though; they’re keenly aware of the complexities that plague modern-day learning, even in our suburban areas, where it is often (albeit ignorantly) assumed that kids don’t go without. But this exact reason is why nonprofits like neighborhood bridges exist.
One of the most fundamental needs for any student is their physical well-being. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a student to concentrate, engage, and absorb knowledge when their basic needs for food, shelter, and safety are compromised. Hunger, fatigue, or even living in an unstable environment can hinder a student’s ability to participate fully in the educational process.
Students who are worried about where their next meal will come from or who are stressed about the electricity being turned off at home, struggle to focus on their studies, experience difficulties with memory retention, and exhibit decreased cognitive abilities. Just like adults, students of all ages are affected by stress. And the reality is, the stress these students exhibit affects their teachers because to be an educator is to love your students. There’s no way around it, even the ones that make us crazy! If I’m being completely honest, it’s one of the reasons I had to step away from teaching. It’s hard to not feel like a failure when you can’t fix it all for them. It’s easy for those outside of education to recommend you leave your stresses at school when you leave for the day, but that’s simply not possible. This isn’t an episode of Severance. Teachers often try desperately to meet the needs of their students when it’s a matter of purchasing needed items, often to the detriment of their own bank accounts. But at the end of the day, in addition to the lesson planning and grading that teachers bring home, they bring home the heartaches of their students, and sometimes it’s just too much.
At Status Solutions and Status Solutions Network, we believe in a holistic approach to school safety. Yes, we are a situational awareness technology company with an entire suite of solutions to keep students and teachers safe, and we’re also a digital advertising company whose sole purpose is to funnel money back into local school districts, but we’re also realistic. We know that keeping students and teachers safe means they have to actually feel safe. They have to have their basic needs met, and a kid who’s hungry, going home to a house without electricity, doesn’t feel safe. That’s why we’ve partnered with neighborhood bridges!
neighborhood bridges is a nonprofit organization that focuses on fostering community engagement and providing support to individuals and families in need. It operates under the belief that a strong community can make a significant positive impact on the lives of its residents. Their core mission is to bridge communities with schools by providing basic needs, removing barriers, and seeking equity for students so they can engage and succeed in school and life. We feel their mission is in perfect alignment with Status Solutions Network because we believe that businesses can empower a community to protect and provide for schools.
Neighborhood bridges’ goal is to bridge the gap between those who have resources and those who are in need within a community. It accomplishes this by establishing a network of volunteers, schools, faith organizations, and businesses to identify and help individuals and families facing various challenges. The key concept behind neighborhood bridges is the “power of one.” They believe that one person, one act of kindness, or one donation can create a ripple effect, transforming the lives of individuals and ultimately strengthening the entire community.
Imagine a kid who has taken on a part-time job to help his family, but he has no way to get to the new job because he can’t afford a bus pass. That’s where neighborhood bridges would come in. They would put a call out to their Bridge Builders about a student in need of a bus pass and in a fairly short amount of time someone would offer to fill that need. And just like that the student’s stress level has been reduced, empowering him to focus more on his work and academics. It may not solve every problem he has, but it certainly relieves one of the small things that is weighing him down. Removing these barriers helps with more than the physical and mental needs of the students it also improves attendance at school and helps decrease chronic absenteeism.
neighborhood bridges can proudly state that they have helped and directly impacted 348,486 students and/or families by filling over 18,000 needs and facilitating more than $6.5 million in donations. We are proud to know that our sponsorship has played a role in those acts of kindness. As a former teacher, I am grateful for the role they’re playing in our community and communities around the country. Poverty and need are unfortunately everywhere and we need all the help we can get to lift up our young people and their families.
If you’re interested in helping to spread kindness in your community you can learn more about neighborhood bridges by clicking here. If you’re interested in helping to fund your local schools with the Status Solutions Network franchise opportunity click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Hartman is a former middle school and high school English teacher. Currently, she is a Marketing Specialist for Status Solutions in Westerville, Ohio, where she calls upon her years of experience in the classroom to aid the company’s mission of protecting the vulnerable and preventing violence in schools.