Olumide Aje has worked with young people most of his career. Whether in a school or as the Interfaith Outreach Neighborhood Program Manager, Olumide tells kids, “Once you’re my kid, you’re always my kid.” They know they can rely on him. Young people and their families rely on Great Expectations (GE), too. GE is a collaborative school and community initiative designed to eliminate the educational opportunity and achievement disparities experienced by children and youth in our community. Anchor partners Orono and Wayzata schools and Interfaith Outreach work with community partners to help kids reach their highest potential.
GE has been working to listen, learn and effectively respond to emerging opportunities. One school, Meadow Ridge Elementary, created an out of school time program called the Cardinal Club to better meet student need. It provides targeted academic and enrichment activities. Many of the kids invited to participate are living at Vicksburg Commons, one of the nine Neighborhood Program locations Olumide and Interfaith Outreach supports.
Jolene Stanke-Krause and Sam Blank are part of the Meadow Ridge student support team. Jolene says, “Interfaith’s partnership in supporting kids and families has always been important. Two years ago, Meadow Ridge and Interfaith staff teamed up to create Cardinal Club. Having it housed at the school gave us the opportunity to extend the invitation to many Meadow Ridge students (45 signed up this year) regardless of where they lived. It was also a unique opportunity to have licensed teachers provide support to students after school.”
At Cardinal Club, students have the opportunity to work with licensed teachers who provide large and small group literacy and mathematics instruction targeted to specific student needs. Students also participate in social, emotional and community building activities.
In addition to traditional instruction, the club integrates skills through cookie baking, coding lessons with robots, Lego activities and more.
This collaboration allows teachers to better understand student behaviors, which can sometimes stem from a deeper backstory. And, it gives Interfaith staff the ability to understand the school experience. The partnership helps parents best support their children both in school and in life.