In 2016, over 35% of families with children under 5 years of age in Shreveport-Bossier were in poverty. That same year, the percentage of persons ages 25 and over in poverty was 81.2% for those with less than a bachelor’s degree, versus 6% for those with a bachelor’s degree. There is no doubt higher educational attainment lowers someone’s risk of being in poverty.
In 2018 the Community Foundation set a lofty but achievable goal: to change the course or interrupt the cycle of poverty for all children through education so they may grow up and attain a living wage job in adulthood. We committed to contribute $1.25 million over the next 5 years, or $250,000 per year, to the Spark Education Fund. Grants from this fund are awarded solely to evidence-based, scalable solutions that remove barriers to educational success faced by children in poverty.
This year, the Foundation awarded a $250,000 Special Initiative grant to Volunteers of America to assist in expanding its Communities in Schools (CIS) program to all schools in the Caddo Parish Transformation Zone. CIS is a nationally-recognized initiative that places trained case managers with students and parents to improve academics, behavior and attendance. The CIS program currently exists in six Caddo Parish Transformation Zone schools. With funding from Caddo Parish Schools, Community Foundation and private donors, CIS will expand to all 15 Transformation Zone schools, as well as Creswell and Broadmoor, by 2024. Through careful goal setting and data tracking, CIS shows measurable improvements in the educational lives of students.
As children are the future of our community, it is our obligation to light a pathway to success and show them the way. To contribute to the Spark Education Fund, you can donate online at cfnla.org/give or mail a check to the Community Foundation.