In summer 2011, Freedom Middle School partnered with Youth Crossroads to write a grant for United Way’s Live United 2020 initiative to help bring opportunities to our community.
Around the same time, Office Max was working with United Way to identify a school to adopt through its charitable foundation. Without knowing exactly what was happing, a meeting was set with representatives from the organizations.
The result of that meeting has sent Freedom on a trajectory that has been nothing short of amazing. Freedom Middle School, through our partnership with our local youth service agency, Youth Crossroads, was awarded a $1,000,000 grant.
The grant has allowed us to fund programs including an extended learning day for students at Freedom and Heritage Middle Schools. It also has been used to increase parent and community engagement at Freedom Middle School by enhancing our Parent University offerings, as well as allowing us to offer various community fairs designed to connect families with local organizations. During the past two years, we have seen a tremendous increase in families and community members in our building for activities.
Aside from the after school program and increased family and community engagement, Freedom also has used the resources to affect our students in many other ways.
We opened a state of the art fitness center, which is used before school for fitness clubs, during school by our physical education classes and after school for our community to use free of charge. We have added several sports teams and club opportunities for our students, and our district staff has participated in professional development opportunities that have helped improve the learning environment for all of the students in District 100.
This grant was made possible because of our partnership with Youth Crossroads. These types of partnerships between our schools and community organizations are what truly make Berwyn a great place to live and work. Working collaboratively enables us to meet our ongoing challenges head on and make our community a better place for everyone.
Jim Calabrese is principal at Freedom Middle School