philanthropy

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth: if you're looking for charitable organizations to contribute financially to, Starfish makes a difference in the lives of inner city youth. Discover all the ways we impact lives at starfishchicago.org.

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that today’s inner city youth are in desperate need of a safe place to go after school where they can be tutored, mentored, and nourished. Our after school program has been providing that for twenty years. There are several ways to partner with us to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth: you can spread the word about Starfish by word of mouth and social media, you can volunteer a special skill or tutor during our program, you can donate items that our program can use, or you can give financially to support Starfish. 

If you decide that Starfish is an organization you want to sow into by donating financially, you can be sure that your gift will have major direct impact on the lives of at-risk inner city youth. Here are some of the ways partnering with us financially can make a difference:

1. Our kids have a safe place to go after school

If you read our post A Day in the Life of an At-Risk Youth, you can see what kind of challenges inner-city minority children are up against. Many have parents who are unable to provide childcare after school, thus the kids are free to roam the dangerous streets and mix with the wrong crowd. The absence of a nurturing adult presence during those crucial hours contributes heavily to the future of these kids. 

Starfish has been consistently providing programming after school for the youth of our neighborhood for twenty years. This service is made possible by the generous donation of individuals like you. Even the small donations add up and provide for our kids. 

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth: if you're looking for charitable organizations to contribute financially to, Starfish makes a difference in the lives of inner city youth. Discover all the ways we impact lives at starfishchicago.org. 2. We are able to purchase updated equipment to help our kids academically

Kids need items like computers, printers, office supplies, and school project supplies to successfully complete their school assignments. Parents can’t always afford these supplies. Many of our students do not even have a computer or printer at home. Without these tools, excelling academically is a serious challenge. Starfish is thankful for our donors who partner with us to make these essentials available to our kids. 

Learn all about Starfish, a charitable organization making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth in Chicago. 3. We are able to provide nutritious snacks during the program

If you read this article here, you see that inner city youth don’t always have the resources or understanding about nutrition to make food choices that are good for them. Some of them are lucky even to have unhealthy snacks. At Starfish we serve nutritious snacks twice daily during our program. These snacks are made possible by donations from people like you. 

4. Our kids can enjoy activities like arts and crafts and cooking classes

Starfish doesn’t just provide tutoring to our kids. We want to teach them life skills and hand them the tools to soar in life. Our goal is to teach them to be productive members of society, nurturing wholesome hobbies and skills that keep them focused when the distractions of living in the inner city pull them towards destructive relationships and habits. We have several programs that do just that, but these programs cost money! We need to buy arts and crafts supplies and food and cooking tools. We need volunteers and paid staff to teach and train them. Your financial gift helps us do just that. 

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth: if you're looking for charitable organizations to contribute financially to, Starfish makes a difference in the lives of inner city youth. Discover all the ways we impact lives at starfishchicago.org. 5. Students can enjoy educational and recreational outings 

Several of our kids spend most of their lives in the bubble of their neighborhood. We want them to see that their is a broader world out there, filled with opportunities and healthy relationships. Starfish provides outings to museums, sports and recreational facilities, churches, food pantries and homeless shelters, and much more! Our kids have the chance to explore Chicago as well as other nearby states during our yearly retreat. Your donation helps cover the cost of these events, and broadens the horizon for at-risk youth. 

Now that you can see specifically how your donation impacts our youth, consider giving to our program today. All donations are tax-deductible. Follow us on social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for regular updates as to the activities and developments of our program. 

Uncategorized

5 ways we’re reaching this fatherless generation

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. It’s no secret that kids growing up without a dad are at a distinct disadvantage. In a study cited by fatherhoodfactor.com, individuals from father-absent homes were found to be 279% more likely to carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers. The presence of a dad is necessary for complete emotional development. Females need the security provided by their dad to properly navigate future male relationships. 

23.6% of children lived in father-absent homes in 2014 (fatherhoodfactor.com). If this many kids are living in such a way where their needs are not being met, how does this bode for our society? How can we expect a bright future for our culture, when the very foundation, our children, is almost 25% weakened?

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Starfish Learning Center, a Christian non-profit organization in the inner city of Chicago, has been dedicated to reaching at-risk youth, many of whom are without a dad. Here are five ways we’re reaching this fatherless generation:

1.  Consistent male presence after school

Starfish is led by our male program director and our male executive director. Either one or the other are always present during our program hours. Having the same staff consistently available to speak into the lives of our kids grounds them in a way that is essential. In a transient world filled with fleeting friendships and broken family relationships, consistency is key. 

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 2. Biblical teaching/mentoring

One of the deepest needs every child has is to grow in understanding of God’s Word. This is especially true of kids who come from a broken home and need the truth of God to repair and guide their lives. At Starfish we apply the Word of God to real-life scenarios in a regular setting during Bible study time. We teach the ways of God in a way that transforms broken thinking and patterns into a way of living that is fruitful and wholesome. 

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 3. Educational support

Kids that come from broken homes are at risk for poor performance at school. Lack of support from home combined with the stress of a less-than-ideal home life threaten a child’s ability to succeed academically. At Starfish we make up for the lack by providing tutoring and resources to help our kids excel in school. Monitoring grades and report cards has shown that our students are excelling beyond their classmates. 

4. Partnerships with other organizations 

Students in our organization not only are impacted by our stellar group of staff and volunteers, but Starfish partners with other organizations like Grip and First Lutheran of Charlotte. Developing friendships with healthy and mature peers and adults helps to reinforce the positive teaching and mentoring that takes place during our program. Our kids are affirmed, challenged, and inspired to live according to God’s best for them. 

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.

5. Stable environment 

For many youth, their home situation is in a constant state of flux. They never know where or with whom they will be living with, and relationships are constantly changing. Starfish has been a permanent fixture in the neighborhood for twenty years. Our steady presence has been a consistent haven for over 1,000 women, children, and teenagers in crisis. Our kids can trust us and count on us to be there when times are good, and when times are rough. 

We can’t change the statistics or prevent families from being torn apart; we can only pray. However, God has called us to be a haven and a resource for the fatherless, pointing the way to Jesus and to wholeness. Our mission is to love, mentor, and educate at-risk youth in Chicago. We’ve done it for twenty years, and, Lord willing, we will continue for much more. 

If you want to become part of the solution, if you have a heart for reaching this fatherless generation, we would love to connect with you! Visit here to find out all the ways you can get involved. 

Health and nutrition

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. I’ve worked with inner city youth since 2009. During this time I’ve noticed certain diet trends persist amongst the youth, reinforced by the habits of those around them, and lack of substantial understanding of the long term effects of an unhealthy diet. At Starfish, we’ve made it a goal not only to provide healthy snacks for our kids, but to educate them as to why eating healthy food is important. 

In this post, I’ve included my observations as to some of the unhealthy eating habits of inner city youth.

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
The recommended daily sugar intake for kids is 25 grams a day. This juice has 68.
1. Extreme sugar intake

My husband and I love sweets. However, because we’ve been educated on the subject, we understand the consequences of going overboard. Sometimes we’ll watch with morbid fascination as a young kid will pop open a giant container of “juice”, whose name undoubtedly leads the parents to believe it’s healthy for the kids. Of course, we have to check the label. The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of added sugar daily for kids. The sugar in one of these monstrous drinks alone can sometimes be up to 68 grams, mainly because it’s three servings or so, but the kids will drink the whole thing. 

2. School meals

School meals are a blessing for busy low-income parents, but they aren’t always healthy, and neither are they always appetizing. Depending on what’s on the menu, kids may choose to skip it altogether. Of course, that goes for when mom packs their lunch, also …

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 3. Unhealthy after school snacks

Many kids walk home or to their after school program after school. They’re understandably very hungry, and they often hit up the local convenience store to remedy that. Unfortunately, their nutritional choices are usually poor. They usually walk away with chips (not the healthy kind), sweets, and … juice. 

4. Long stretches between meals

Often both mom and dad have to work to pay the bills, or just one parent is providing for the whole family. A lot of times these guys are super-hungry for more than just a snack, but then they don’t get dinner often until 9 or 10 at night. That’s a long time for a growing kid to go without a good meal!

Starfish Learning Center: an after school program for at-risk youth in the inner city of Chicago. Learn more at starfishchicago.org. 5. Limited fruit and vegetables 

At Starfish, we serve two snacks during our program hours, and the first snack is always a fruit or a vegetable. We know that these kids might not be getting them at home or school. We also work on making them enticing by offering new recipes and ideas, because we know if kids aren’t used to it they won’t touch it. While we know that ample fruits and vegetables are vital to complete nutrition, kids who have either limited or questionable adult guidance on food choices, often skip the fruit and veggies, especially the raw, whole variety. Fruit juices or fruits in heavy syrup aren’t as healthy, and many people favor cooked vegetables over the raw ones, even though raw ones are essential. 

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 6. Reluctance to try (or like) new foods

As a grown parent with kids, I’ve exposed them to a wide variety of foods, including many different ethnic varieties. At Starfish, we are constantly teaching the kids to cook new foods, and on outings we’ll take them to a variety of restaurants. Our experience is that they eat what they’re comfortable with, and that’s what they stick with! Most kids don’t often get out far past their neighborhood, and the variety of food offered isn’t that great. We hope that continually introducing things will engender a willingness to try new food, and, in turn, a more balanced diet. 

At Starfish, we know we can’t change the choices kids make when it comes to their diet, but our hope is that through introducing and educating our youth on healthy food, we can influence their future diet. 

Uncategorized, Volunteering

A day in the life of an at-risk youth

A day in the life of an at-risk youth: the story of today's inner city kids. Learn how you can help change their future. Read it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.

“Chris” gets up early for school like any other kid. If he’s lucky he’ll grab a sugary breakfast on his way out the door. He’s excited to see his friends, but a little apprehensive about facing his teacher. He didn’t understand his math assignment, but as his mom works late, she couldn’t help him. She doesn’t understand the stuff anyways. 

On his way to school, Chris crosses the street even though it’s out of his way, because the kids sitting on the corner are part of a local gang, and he doesn’t want any trouble. He gets to class on time and sits in his chair. His mind wanders as his teacher talks, thinking about his dad, who’s in prison for beating his mom. He misses him. 

A day in the life of an at-risk youth: the story of today's inner city kids. Learn how you can help change their future. Read it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. During lunch there’s a hushed buzz around school as his friends discuss a former classmate, Johnny. Johnny was walking to the store yesterday when he a bullet caught him in the back. He didn’t make it. Johnny was in two of his classes. He also wasn’t Chris’ first friend to die prematurely. 

Chris is starting to understand math a little more. He stays after school to get extra help, but it’s only an hour, and there are so many students and so few tutors. He’s really smart and just needs a little help, but finding motivation is difficult. His classmates are in the same boat as him. Their parents work late, many never graduated from high school, had children young, and either live off welfare or a minimum-wage job. 

A day in the life of an at-risk youth: the story of today's inner city kids. Learn how you can help change their future. Read it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. As Chris heads home, he ducks his head low. It’s not quite spring yet, so it gets dark early. The worst times to be alone on the street are after dark and summer. He’s hungry, but his mom doesn’t cook until she gets off work at ten. Maybe there’ll be some chips in the cupboard. 

The doorman nods at Chris as he lets him in the building. Chris keeps his eyes down as he doesn’t want to interrupt any drug deals going on in his building. He lets himself in his room and gets right to his homework, as he is a good kid. He hears gunshots outside, and exhales softly, glad he didn’t hang out at the store today. Payday isn’t until tomorrow, so his mom didn’t have extra cash anyway. 

Chris is hungry so he takes a snack break. There are some Flaming Hot Cheetos in the cupboard, so he munches as he wrestles with math, enjoying the quiet even though it’s a little lonely. When he’s done he texts his friends and plays video games. 

His mom comes home a little after ten, and starts yelling at him immediately, despite his assurances that he did his homework. “Why are your grades so bad, then? Are you just dumb?” She hopes her verbal tirade will motivate him to do better, so he can have a better life than hers. 

Why we need after school programs InfoGraphic. Nonprofit. But Chris needs more than motivation. Chris needs homework help. Chris needs a mentor. Chris needs a safe place to hang out after school. He needs nutritious snacks. Chris needs an after school program! Unfortunately, so do all the other kids in the neighborhood! There are a few programs, but just so many kids. 

Donate to Starfish Learning Center today to support our youth program and at-risk inner city kids. Starfish Learning Center is one of these programs. Starfish has been supporting at-risk youth in the inner city of Chicago for twenty years! But Starfish needs people with a passion for helping kids, people like you who can really change the future of these youth. Starfish needs to grow our program so we can include more youth, but we need volunteers, and we need financial support! If you’re able to partner with us financially, even a small donation can make a difference! Donate here. If you’re local to the Chicago area and you want to volunteer, visit our website at starfishchicago.org, or contact us here. Together we can change the future of today’s youth!

A day in the life of an at-risk youth: the story of today's inner city kids. Learn how you can help change their future. Read it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.