Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:3). CAC is fortunate to experience God’s goodness every time a child walks through our doors. Teacher shortages continue to impact the number of students we can serve. Nevertheless, we served close to 100 youth during the second quarter, which is an 11% increase from this time last year. Having our students back in the building proved to be beneficial – despite the rise in COVID cases in the area, our children were able to regain their math and reading proficiency prior to the outbreak. Compared to the 2020-2021 school year, math proficiency increased by 6% and reading proficiency increased by 10%.
Approximately 88% of last year’s proficient members maintained their grade level in math. In addition, 24% of our students who were below grade level last year were able to obtain proficiency for the first time. In regard to reading, 88% of our students maintained grade level proficiency and 26% of our students who were below grade level were able to obtain proficiency for the first time.
Contributing factors for this success are prayer and the dedication of our staff and volunteers. In addition, our partnership with District 189 continues to be strong in ensuring our children receive the support they need. We will continue to work towards increasing these numbers to at least 70% of our regular attending students being at or above grade level for both reading and math.
Along with receiving reading and math tutoring, CAC members continue to participate in foreign languages such as Mandarin, French, and Spanish through our partnership with Seth Hamilton’s Go! International. Students in grades 4-12 have demonstrated an average vocabulary retention of 78%. Spanish students have experienced Zoom classes with native speakers from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I am a firm believer that learning foreign language equips our students who may someday be called to share the Gospel through the ends of the earth.
Our students continue to learn how to pray in each of the foreign languages. Center Kids (ages 5-9) memorized Galatians 5:22-23 in Spanish while all other students focused on learning about local and international missions in preparation for a mission trip to Colombia.
Something else that I’m excited about? Our entrepreneurship program! Our students take pride in their “Urban Farm.” They have planted close to 1,400 plants, including 10 new fruit trees, pumpkins, 10 spices, sunflowers, marigolds, five types of peppers, two types of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, cabbage, collard greens, kale, and lettuce.
Seth uses the Parable of the Sower and the Fruit of the Spirit to provide spiritual nourishment for our students. These parables are powerful for our kids – it gives them a tangible example of abstract concepts such as pulling weeds and breaking unhealthy habits and relationships, a healthy harvest and healthy relationships with God and others, etc.
Our students have also been discussing the use of personal finance to further God’s Kingdom and the importance of building wealth to build community and create generational wealth. Students in grades 4-12 learned about investments in stocks, bonds, real estate, and business equity. Our partnership with the Youth Development Alliance and its push for financial literacy across East St. Louis resulted in a connection with PBS Power Hour. The PBS Power Hour financial literacy curriculum teaches kids about money values, saving, and decision-making.
It is our prayer that these opportunities we provide our children will continue to motivate their entire family and community. Community members continue to take part in our Adult Online High School Diploma Program led by Dr. Don Wallace. During the second quarter, we had 28 new enrollments and 16 students completed their graduation requirements. To date, 142 adult students have completed graduation requirements.
Achieving graduation goals and overall growth and development are priorities for our CAC kids and those in our community. Your prayers and support continue to be paramount in our ability to ensure our kids experience God’s love in a tangible way and open doors to gain access to other opportunities. For example, led by our very own Parker Tilley, the 15th Annual Golf for a Brighter Future tournament raised over $41,000 on June 24th. Through events like the golf tournament, we can provide quality programing such as Kids Across America, where our students are enjoying a week of spiritual enrichment and camping. We are also enjoying trips to Cardinals games, water parks, civic engagement events, and other summer activities. As the kids enjoy their summer break, we are preparing for our Back to School event and community block party.
In closing, I need you to know that you are making a difference. Your financial support, prayers, and willingness to serve and volunteer at CAC are greatly appreciated. As always, whatever you do, do it to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Dr. Jef Williams
Christian Activity Center