George Washington Carver Association (Carver Center) serves the most critical zip codes in the greater Peoria area. Our facility is in the most economically challenged areas of the city where poverty and crime rates are at its highest. We are uniquely positioned to serve the areas with greatest need and dedicated to providing successful data driven outcomes that make a difference in the community. For 100 years, Carver Center has provided services such as day care, education and health programs, transportation, arts and cultural experiences, and social/physical recreation. It is our primary mission to engage in such recreational, educational, health, social, and civic activities which help foster and improve character, desires, and ambitions of all persons and of all ages.
The rapid, ongoing spread of COVID-19 has created uncertain and frightening times for the kids and families we serve. In the heart of a food desert families must travel miles outside of their community to find grocery stores. Exposed to empty shelves in grocery stores and a 24-hour news cycle full of mounting upsetting news, the anxiety felt by youth is overwhelming. School closures, though an appropriate measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, have left many families in a difficult situation. Here in Peoria approximately 4500 kids in the 61605 rely on government subsidized school meals — sometimes the only meals they can count on daily. And while schools are making every effort to deliver quality online academic programming, for the youth and families we serve, internet access is not guaranteed. This makes the risk of backsliding in critical academic subjects likely. Carver Center has always played an important role in our community, adapting, and evolving to support kids and families through the most challenging of circumstances. Now we must harness the power of our reputation, strength of our relationships in the community, and tremendous experience serving at-risk populations to navigate the onset and evolving nature of COVID-19.
Carver Center is requesting funds to immediately ensure critical COVID-19 response work to increase knowledge of healthy life skills in the core areas of academic retention, health, nutrition and mental health issues to prevent academic loss, poor health and nutrition habits, mental health issues, gang involvement, substance abuse and violence. We are fortunate to have an amazing facility, but desperately need funds to rapidly expand services as the need is so great right now. We find more and more people coming for help, and we have identified much needed new programming and services. Together, we will work to provide immediate and near-term relief efforts, provide proven successful, outcome driven programs created as a direct result of community assessment findings. Helping drive positive outcomes for youth and families in academic success by extending learning beyond the school, and outside of school. Providing families with job skills and leadership training, parenting skills, and programs for the elderly. Needs are addressed by providing and instilling:
- Individualized, structured learning experience
- Improved attitude toward learning in school
- Self-paced learning and goal setting Practical application of skills taught in the classroom
- Remedial support
- Updates to our facility to accommodate licensing for children 6 weeks – 4 years
- Food pantry and meals to the hungry
- Coordinate resources for people to get housing, utility help, job skills and back on track
- Domestic violence safety and help
- Child abuse safety and help
- Senior programming and safe social cafes
- Fitness and sports for adults and children
- Provide mental health services to children and adults coping with issues stemming from COVID-19
- Providing much need basic needs such food, bottled water and other necessary PPE items to youth and families
- Providing care for children of essential workers and others who provide essential support to the community
- Providing resources to accommodate the additional measures being taken to ensure health and safety of youth and families
- Keeping Carver Center employees on the payroll to minimize economic disruptions in the community
Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also readying virtual platforms to provide a wide-array of programming for our members. This will allow us to continue to engage youth and share resources with parents and families. Current offerings include:
- Tutoring for students and parents, as many parents are unfamiliar with popular Common Core methods and feel ill-equipped to educate their children on certain topics)
- Job training and skill building for families who may have lost their jobs due to COVID-19
- Internet, computer and Smartboard access to students and teachers who lack technology essentials within the home
On behalf of the youth and families we serve every day in Peoria, we appreciate your consideration of this funding request. These are uncharted times and our standard service delivery methods and fundraising models must be agile to respond to a rapidly changing reality. With your support, we can weather this storm, providing essential support for our community and the kids and teens who need us most. We value hope. Sometimes it’s all someone has left.