|I am applying for||Both|
|FUNDS WILL BE USED TO:||Maintain/expand current ministry|
|Name of Organization||Manchaca United Methodist Church, Mission Team, SOAR Project|
|Address||1011 Farm to Market Road 1626|
Manchaca, TX 78652
|Contact Person||Sandee Setterquist|
|Title||Coordinator, Mission Team, SOAR Project|
|Explain connection to The United Methodists Church|
This mission is a collaboration between Manchaca United Church and Akins High School. We have worked together since 2014 to help meet the needs of students facing homelessness and increasing college awareness and preparedness for those students. The Capital District grants have been instrumental in helping us fund our goals.
|How many volunteers are involved?||10|
|How many staff members?||3|
|Have you explored opportunities to collaborate with other United Methodist Churches to work toward your mission?*|
|If yes, please describe.|
We have had discussions with Oak Hill United Methodist Church about expanding the program to include students in their are a and they have financially supported us in the past. However we do not currently have any collaborations with any other congregations.
Project SOAR is operated out of our Mission Team. There are currently 6 members on the team including one staff member. Our congregation is very motivated to financially help support the Akins High School students experiencing homelessness (~40% of budget). All of the funds for the program come through this grant and donations. Over $1500 was donated during the 2021/2022 Advent Season Angel Tree. Numerous small groups have helped students out with individual needs like clothing as well as donating prom gowns, helping with bills, and graduation cap and gowns. The Craft Group regularly supports the ministry and gave $1300 in 2020. One Sunday School class (New to Me) collects money for laptop computers for the graduating seniors and gave 7 refurbished Dell laptops to 2020 graduates last spring. Another class (Christians without Borders) usually puts together an “Off to School” gift for at least one graduating senior which usually includes dorm bedding, towel sets and school supplies. A weekend food bag ministry and donations of snacks and small gift bags at Christmas also occur but outside the scope of this ministry.
|How does your mission fulfill the purpose of the grant you are requesting?|
Our mission is to open the eyes and minds of Akins High School students experiencing homelessness to a future that is more that what they may have hoped for or considered before. SOAR! Students of Akins Rise.
As part of Manchaca United Methodist Church Mission Team, Project SOAR, we have developed a relationship with Akins High School, a high school within our local community. Since 2014 we have worked with the College and Career Counselor and Student Support Services Counselor to help address the needs of students experiencing homelessness. Our goal has been to assist seniors and rising seniors with costs associated with the senior year (senior photos, AP and SAT/ACT testing, prom, graduation, college application fees and readiness). We give graduation gifts to all graduating seniors identified by Project Help (gifts usually include dorm bedding, towel sets, school supplies and a refurbished laptop to students who need one). One student said this made him "just feel normal" when he moved into his dorm. But our primary goal for this grant request to help students explore sustainable post high school opportunities.
If approved, this grant money will be used for a 3 day/2 night college visit to four to five colleges in the spring of 2022 for up to 25 freshman - senior students experiencing homelessness from Akins High School. As one can imagine just managing day to day is a feat for these students, many of whom hold down jobs and carry all they own in their backpacks. Many of the students are very bright and just their efforts to even attend school attest to their commitment to education. Unless they are in the academic top percent of students, their access to visiting colleges is very limited. According to the 2014 White House Report: Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students, a college education is one of the surest ways into the middle class. Increasing college opportunity is not just an economic imperative, but a reflection of our values. We need to reach, inspire, and empower every student, regardless of background, to make sure that our country is a place where, if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. We believe an opportunity to visit colleges and technical schools will increase these students' ability to imagine and work towards a different future.
|How many individuals will be served by the funds requested?||25|
Akins High School, with almost 2800 students, is one of the largest in Austin Independent School District. The student body makeup is 52 percent male and 48 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 89 percent (77% Hispanic, ~6% Black and ~12% White). 55% of students are considered economically disadvantaged. Approximately 59 students are currently designated as homeless by Austin Independent School District’s Project HELP ( Homeless Education Learning Program). Any of these students are able to take advantage of this trip with the proper parent/guardian permission and interest.
|Grant history and reporting|
We received grants in the amount of $6000 for 2017, $5000 for 2018, $8000 for 2019 and $6000 for 2020. Each year we have gone on a 3 day/2 night trip to visit colleges and trade schools. The agenda for the 2020 trip (which was just weeks before the pandemic shutdown) is included in an attachment below. One of the highlights of the 2020 trip was that a student who had been on our 2019 college trip was our tour guide at Temple College! In addition to the trips, thanks to our generous congregation and remaining funds from the grant, we were able to give each of the 2017-2020 college bound seniors a refurbished laptop, schools supplies and some dorm items like towels and bedding to help transition into college.
The following is from the Akins Student Support Services counselor who works directly with the students experiencing homelessness:
The support that Akins High School has received from Manchaca United Methodist Church (M.U.M.C.) is truly amazing and inspiring! Too often our students who experience/are impacted by homelessness grow accustomed to having to do without or be so anxious and focused on how to meet their basic needs that their hopes and dreams are squashed or at the very least sidelined to their troubling circumstances. The support Akins has received over the past years from M.U.M.C. has allowed our students to have assistance with their basic needs while also exploring realistic futures full of hope. From coordinating and funding college tours, providing graduation gifts to seniors as well as haircuts, coats, clothing, auto insurance assistance, and much more, Akins is truly thankful for all M.U.M.C. has and continues to do for our homeless students and our entire Student Support Services Program. Underclassmen students who attended our college tour last year frequently speak positively of the eye opening experience they had. Last year, 14 seniors who were impacted by homelessness graduated high school with plans to attend college. One of these seniors, whose family had been living in a motel for a majority of the student’s last semester of high school, became emotional when they received her senior gifts, which included bedding for their dorm, a laptop, and other college necessities. M.U.M.C.’s support has allowed our students to not just survive but also thrive.
This past year has been especially difficult: As with many things in our world right now, we are seeing an increase in our student's needs related to a variety of issues including financial strife, grief & loss, homelessness, mental health issues, technology accessibility, and more. We are so grateful for the partnership we have with the community at MUMC as your support has been so crucial to helping our student's needs for the past 5 years. Now more than ever, our students will be needing assistance with new and gently used clothing (particularly leggings, basketball shorts, and athleisure,) new male & female undergarments, snacks, non perishable food, haircut gift certificates, hygiene items, and more depending on the varying individual needs.
MUMC is pleased we can help with all the above issues but our primary focus remains helping the students envision a better, more secure future. Any grant funds will be used to promote this goal with our 2022 college trip!
|Comments or additional information|
We do have lots of photos from our college trips but without permissions from the students or their parents, we can't include them here.