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Aspirations For Children Over the Summer

Manatee Community Foundation’s Alicia Chalmers and Simone Peterson recently convened a hearty discussion with local nonprofits to talk about the collective aspirations for our youth over the summer months, a time that can be difficult for those who are underserved or underrepresented.

Simone Peterson and Alicia Chalmers Facilitating

Participating nonprofits represented a variety of mission focuses: mental health, education, family supportive services, food security, transportation, healthcare, and safety. Here are some of their contributions–some reflecting the most basic aspirations that many Manatee children still need to see realized.

What are your aspirations for children this summer?
• Improvement of family dynamic
• Volunteer opportunities (high school)
• Encouragement
• Exploration of careers (all ages)
• Opportunities for mental health/self care
• Exposure to experiences (field trips, content discussions)
• Meaningful experiences that connect to lessons “learning happens everywhere”
• Children feeling safe/safety education
• Reduction of development goals (special needs kids)
• Food security – meals everyday
• Access to services close to home
• Secure housing
• Basic needs met or exceeded

How do you see yourself working together with others/organizations?
• Meet in person/networking
• Depend on organizations to collaborate
• Understand each other and services provided
• Meet in different locations
• QR scan on business cards with 30 sec intro to help with staff turnover
• Become and continue to be client-focused
• Knowing each other’s infrastructure
• Keep the doors open for communication
• Monthly meeting with nonprofits to discuss programs, challenges, etc.
• Different avenues to communicate message (young professional groups) and social/leadership groups (ex. Leadership Manatee)
• Will also be able to help with donors
• School & Nonprofit education and outreach

Two prominent themes emerged from this candid conversation: aspirations to help all children gain access to basic needs and aspirations to help children access enrichment programs that support learning and self-actualization.

Meeting the Basic Needs of Children
Participants quickly acknowledged that higher aspirations for child success cannot be achieved in the midst of current challenges of food insecurity and attainable housing shortages. Both continue to elevate difficulties in areas including education, mental well-being, and health. The well-documented crisis in inventory and affordability of homes is recognized among all nonprofits as a contributor in decreased family stability, child safety.

And without access to healthy eating choices and safe places to recreate near home, obesity and diabetes are on the rise. Some children are sleeping in vehicles in unsecured locations or living with questionable family/friends.

This discussion turned to the aspiration of uplifting family dynamics and community–a greater sense of community and belonging, more time for hard-working parents to invest in their children, and more resources for the family together could support gains in all areas.

We agreed as a group that these were the most immediate needs and aspirations we would like for our children.

Enrichment Programs that Promote Learning & Self-Actualization
Providing an array of culturally relevant and age appropriate activities for students to explore would help them learn about their own communities and help them narrow future career and volunteer interests. These aspirations were expressed, once again, by representatives from organizations with various key mission focuses.

Lastly, seeing our youth receive general support in their journeys, positive reinforcement on a daily basis, and encouragement were discussed as other key aspirations.

Next Steps
Nonprofits are already taking active roles in addressing our students’ basic needs. Still, the larger issues of affordable housing, family dynamics, and enrichment programming are topics that require collaboration with different sectors in our community, such as businesses and municipalities. Those with an opportunity to contribute philanthropically–or with their time–can help the enormous strain on nonprofits to provide services to a growing number of children.

Communication and networking among nonprofits were discussed other practical next steps. By understanding the infrastructure and missions of the nonprofits that serve children and families, we can all better realize aspirations for children.

In early Fall, the Manatee Community Foundation will re-convene this group and others to revisit these topics and understand what gains were made, where challenges can be addresses, and how we can best work together to collaborate during the school year.

-Simone Peterson, Community Investment Officer
For more information, or to participate in the next conversation, email Simone at SPeterson@ManateeCF.org.

Organizations and their self-identified areas of work with children:

Mental Health
• Tidewell Hospice, Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center
• Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary
• Multicultural Health Institute
• Parenting Matters

Education
• Just For Girls
• Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary
• Multicultural Health Institute
• Parenting Matters
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County
• Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County
• Joyful Friends Programs
• UnidosNow
• Feeding Empty Little Tummies
• The Patterson Foundation/Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading
• Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County
• Take Stock in Children of Manatee County

Family
• Meals on Wheels PLUS
• Just For Girls
• Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center
• Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary
• Multicultural Health Institute
• Parenting Matters
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County
• Tidewell Foundation
• Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County
• Joyful Friends Programs
• UnidosNow
• Feeding Empty Little Tummies

Food Security
• Meals on Wheels PLUS
• Multicultural Health Institute
• Feeding Empty Little Tummies
• Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary

Transportation
• Just for Girls
• Meals on Wheels PLUS
• Multicultural Health Institute

Healthcare
• Tidewell Foundation
• Multicultural Health Institute

Other
• Joyful Friends Program
• Take Stock in Children of Manatee County
• Parenting Matters
• Selah Freedom