2015 Year in Review
I'm writing to update you on developments with respect to the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation. I am extremely humbled by and proud of our accomplishments during the first real year of operation. At the same time, I'm reminded of the tremendous amount of work to be done. More than ever, I am cognizant of my mom's presence in this work. Her energy is strong and constant which tells me we are on a good path.
Mission - "To Eradicate Illiteracy in South St. Petersburg"
We explicitly stated our mission. Our efforts were initially centered around the distribution of books to children in the community. We concluded that while this was great work, it would not be enough to provide the level of intervention and impact needed for the children of our community. In June of last year, we became the primary funder/sponsor of the Operation SMART Summer camp. We raised over $80,000 to support 60 girls in attending the camp, which was designed to minimize learning loss while having fun. This caused us to really think hard about what we want to accomplish and how we want to achieve it.
We articulated our theory of change/impact model for an intervention focused on children K-8 to eradicate illiteracy, close learning gaps and in so doing, impact poverty and community health.
In this model, we acknowledge that we are one part of the solution required by the community. We seek to work specifically during out-of-school time, namely summers and after-school. We seek to bring programs to children AND parents that help address/close learning gaps -- literacy is core to what we do; at the same time, we integrate other activities (STEM, Art, Behavioral Health, etc.) to address the needs of the whole child. Certified educators are believed to be a critical element of our model. We measure the impact of our collaborators. We seek a small physical footprint, but a large community impact -- if possible, we will not build/duplicate bricks and mortar infrastructure, but try to leverage existing infrastructure within the community. To that end, we are primarily leveraging UPA's infrastructure short term to prove-out our model with a goal of rapid expansion as evidence of success is gathered.
Community Impact Accomplishments
Its' amazing how much we've accomplished in such a short time!
60 girls were served in the 10-week summer camp pilot with great success. Our goal was to minimize learning loss. We actually achieved significant learning gains with many attendees -- e.g. 55% in grades K-2.
30 boys and girls participate in an after school Tutoring Program in the 2015-16 school year. Led by Emmanuel Swift, M.Ed
from UPA, and staffed with volunteer students from Eckerd College in various subjects to improve standard test scores,
develop relationships and build confidence.
8 community students were sponsored and chaperoned at the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBChCE) STEM Weekend. http://www.nobcchestemwkd.com
Children from the 2015 summer camp and an additional 50 children (approximately) are participating in a STEM project via a newly formed Garden Club at UPA. The children plan, design, build and study a community garden through a Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation led application for the Bok Tower Community Garden Grant from the University of Florida for that school.
Over 1000 books were distributed to children through book drives in the community to tackle illiteracy rates and raise awareness.
30 minority students in 5th grade will participate this year in a Computer Science Program developed through a partnership
between the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation and our current location to secure the Verizon Innovative Learning Grant to
develop Computer Science programs and foster ongoing investment in CS activities especially in underrepresented youth.
I hope that as you review the year and this impressive body of work, you too can visualize my mom's hand in it. But to be clear, the work has also required the substantial input of many physically present worker bees.
We hired the foundation's first Executive Director, Ms. Jennifer Hughes, in February. While her background in children's social services is impressive, her dedication, commitment and hard work are even more so. She has taken on the hard work of building awareness and fundraising. She has also put together a team for 2016 summer programming and begun the scheduling, coordination and student recruitment efforts to drive program success.
I must also call out the indefatigable efforts of foundation Board members, especially Bill Puller/President -- my "Pops", and Angela Collins/Vice President, and Ms. Gladys McNeil, without whom none of this success would have been possible. Finally, I am so thankful for the contributions of countless volunteers from our family, e.g. Cassandra Jackson, Judy Coney, Nat Williams -- who is at almost every book drive working alongside Angela, Jen, and/or Ms. Gladys; and those volunteers from the community, e.g. Mr. Swift, Ms. Hines, Dr. Porter and the students of Eckerd College who have been such generous supporters of this work.
Be well. Be blessed.