2021 Annual Report

We're proud of our progress in 2021,
and remain inspired for the opportunities in 2022

For the best viewing experience, please read the 2021 Annual Report on a desktop computer or tablet 

Greetings, Friends!

Evangelical songwriter Jennie Wilson wrote:

Time is filled with swift transition, Naught of earth unmoved can stand

Build your hope on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

 

The CAC held to God’s unchanging hand as we faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collateral damage it brought with it. Many kids across the country found virtual learning to be extremely challenging due to the lack of hands-on instruction, poor internet connectivity, the lack of peer-to-peer interaction, and the high level of uncertainty of what the future holds. 

The level of uncertainty was exacerbated especially for those children considered most vulnerable from a social, emotional, and economical standpoint, which included many of the students at the CAC. 

Nevertheless, God demonstrated His great love in that we were not consumed, for His compassion never failed simply because He is faithful (Lamentations 3:22-24). 

We received overwhelming support from our Board of Directors, churches, organizations, and individuals such as yourself when the pandemic disrupted the lives of our students and their families. Collectively, we were able to meet the academic, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our students. Thank you for your time, talents, and treasures that enabled this support. These pandemic-related challenges persist, and 2022 will prove to be a year of great opportunity as we turn the page together as a society.  

I am excited to share with you the 2021 annual report that highlights our collective efforts. To name a few successes:

  • Over 400 children were adopted during our annual Secret Santa Christmas campaign 

  • Back to school supplies were distributed to over 200 students throughout the community

  • Through various partnerships, we were able to host three vaccination clinics and two community health forums for our residents, where we shared over 600 boxes of fresh meat and produce.  

Time is filled with swift transition, Naught of earth unmoved can stand

Build your hope on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

We are blessed to have individuals such as yourself who support our vision, which is to embrace kids with the love of Christ and equip them to thrive.  Your encouragement and support gives us the momentum needed to be creative and innovative as we seek to provide additional access and opportunity for our children and their families.

Over the coming year, we remain committed to increasing our efforts to strengthen current partnerships and create new ones. We welcome your prayers, support, and collaboration in ensuring the children in our community can thrive!

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Out-of-School Time
Programming (OST)

The Out-of-School Time (OST) programming that we offer (after school and during the summer) provides our kids a safe space to go with adult supervision, along with access to activities and opportunities that ensure their development and enable them to grow. 

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Academic Progress

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted academic progress of students throughout the country. Nevertheless, we made the necessary adjustments and transformed our space for virtual learning to ensure our kids had access to WiFi hotspots and other amenities we often take for granted.

However, through encouragement and tutoring, over 60% of our students were able to meet grade level standards in Math and Reading. From a GPA perspective, 38% of these students are Honors students.  As you can see in the chart at right, our students are making up for lost progress during 2020, and we are encouraged by the results! 

We anticipate the outcomes listed above to grow exponentially under this new program design, and we are ready to carry programming to the places our kids live.

Student support does not end in high school.  Instead, we ensure our students have access to scholarships. Congratulations to Maliyah for being awarded the Helen & Robert Patterson Education Award. Maliyah is currently a freshman at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

We also realize having a healthy home environment that supports education adds to our students’ achievements. The CAC online program enables family members of the CAC and adults in our community to obtain their high school diploma.  Since its inception, 339 students have enrolled and 114 have graduated. In 2021, 45 adult students received their diploma. Congratulations to these students – we’re eager to see how you take this education and use it to lift up our neighborhood! 

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Foreign Language

  • Students resumed Foreign Language classes with Spanish for Center Kids and Pathways, while adding 5 new students from 4th-7th grade to both Mandarin and French classes, respectively.

Urban Agriculture

  • Students finished out the year totaling close to 3,000 pounds of produce which was either sold or given to families.

  • Students created their own salsa brands, designing the labels and naming products after East St. Louis neighborhoods (Roosevelt Reaper, South End Jalapeno, Edgemont Habanero, and Gompers Ghost Pepper).

  • First to participate in the Grand Central Farmers Market in St. Louis.

  • Received $6,000 grant from U of I extension for garden improvement for 2022.

  • Self-fertilizing corn was successfully exported to partners in Central America.

  • Students were featured in the newspaper “The Seed Journal” in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Entrepreneurship
& Financial Literacy

  • Students sold products at two new markets (Grand Central and St. Clair Square Mall) in addition to their community farmers market, Tower Grove, and the Boulevard.

  • Pathways and several other classes voted on new officers for their boards of directors.

  • Scott Credit Union returned for mobile banking days - we now have over 30 students with bank accounts, with over $1,000 saved collectively from ages 6-18.

  • Chad Gray finished his first semester on the Federal Reserve’s Student Board of Directors - he has met the President of the Federal Reserve and is up for a paid internship on their team.

  • Students partnered with a new textile business in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, which is a co-op of 400 Quiche Mayan women. The students have imported their first shipment of goods to sell along with their jewelry and other textiles imported from partners in Africa and Latin America.

  • Students continued running the snack shop, jewelry sales, and farmer’s market. 

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Our youth were given the opportunity to participate is various activities that spoke to them spiritually, developed them creatively and physically, or were just pure fun!   

Healthy Eating & Healthy Living

  • On a hot (100 degree) summer day, Top Box Foods supported our efforts to distribute over 600 boxes of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats to our community! The Illinois Baptist State Association Disaster Relief Team stayed true to their calling of mission work and delivered boxes of food on a chilly fall day!

  • The physical and mental wellbeing of our children and their families is critical. In partnership with local organizations, medical professionals, and the East St. Louis Housing office, we were able to provide health screenings and information to support their overall wellbeing. In addition, we supported the Eastside Health District by serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site. 

  • In regards to mental wellbeing, we were able to ease the burden that many of our families faced and ensured they had adequate school supplies, basic necessities for daily living, and the ability to enjoy the holidays. Once again, our partners stepped up! 

  • Christmas time at the CAC. Close to 400 kids were adopted for Christmas; one of our local church partners transformed the CAC building into a wonderland with bouncy houses, slides, music, fun, and games! In addition, your contributions also ensured kids had coats for the winter.

Operations

We are forever grateful for the many hours spent by volunteers enhancing and upgrading our facilities.  We spruced up our facilities so our kids can feel proud! New flooring, room expansion projects, painting, and other outdoor projects took place throughout the year. 

The CAC was also fortunate to be selected for the Illinois Solar for All Non-Profit Organizations and Public Facilities program. The CAC operates in a low-income or Environmental Justice community, which enabled us to qualify and receive cost savings. We’re excited to be a part of Illinois’ growing clean energy economy, and look forward to improving the health of Illinois residents, especially those in low-income communities.   

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God has done big things, and we believe there is more He wants to accomplish here through our collective efforts. Your prayers, presence, support, and giving is amazing!

The Team

Finally, let’s not forget the CAC staff and Board members. Having a staff that is dedicated to the overall health and well-being of children plays a key role in ensuring our students’ success. Please continue to pray that God will use them and those He sends in a mighty way! Speaking of prayer, I also would like to thank our Board of Directors who gave of their time, talents, and treasures in 2021. In addition, the Board members conducted a prayer walk around the Center and its properties and prayed for each staff member. We're also thankful for the fantastic partnership of Go International!, which provides our students with many extracurricular opportunities. 

It’s clear that 2021 was a pivotal year for CAC and the children and families that we serve. Our work and our progress would not be possible without the continuous support of friends like you. We say it often, but for good reason, THANK YOU! Thank you for walking alongside us as we continue this journey to invest in children and our collective future. Our work in this neighborhood is not over, and we are excited for the plans that God has in store for CAC in 2022. Please keep us in your prayers (as we keep you in ours) as we embark on the new year – we look forward to updating you on our progress each quarter. 

God Bless,

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Dr. Jeffrey Williams

Executive Director

Christian Activity Center