Amount Requested: $10,000 for Jacob’s Ladder Summer Enrichment Camp and Advocacy Program
Mission: To aid and encourage at-risk, intellectually gifted children in grades 4-8 to reach their full potential. The organization provides a summer enrichment camp with a year round advocacy program to foster the students’ intellectual, social, emotional and physical development. Students in turn will become leaders equipped to help others in similar economic and social situations.
Constituents Served: Jacob’s Ladder served 60 middle-school students ages 10 to 15 years old in 2015. In the 25 year history, the program has enriched 425 students, along with their families, schools and communities. Once a child is accepted into the program they are called a “Climber”. Eighty-three percent of Climbers come from single-family homes or homes where the primary guardian is not their parent. Eighty-five percent are enrolled in the school’s federal free or reduced lunch program. There is a 50/50 ratio of boys to girl to accompany the racially diverse group of 45% African American, 45% Caucasian, and 10% Hispanic or another nationality. Geographically, Climbers live across Virginia, as 25% reside in the Richmond-metro area and 25% in the Portsmouth/Chesapeake area. The remaining 50% of students live in the rural counties of Mathews, Middlesex, King & Queen, King William, Essex, and Augusta. Last year, five participants (8% of the Climbers) were from the Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County area.
Program Overview: The Jacob’s Ladder program seeks support for the 2016 summer residential enrichment camp and advocacy follow-up. The entire program is conducted at no charge to the participants (“Climbers”) or their families. The cost for providing this experience for one child is $2,880 for the Camp and $1,325 for Advocacy Follow-up for one year, for a combined cost of $4,205/child. The funds supply 24-hour supervision by resident advisors, instruction by teachers, a professional counselor, room and board, materials for class and clubs, field trips, accident insurance, and administrative staff support. The advocacy portion of the program funds staff visits, a Climber winter gathering, Climber Spring Weekend Retreat, a toll free number to call for support, and newsletters and media costs.
The program is a 4 to 5 year commitment designed for a Climber to return each summer and benefit from the year-round advocacy and follow-up. The summer camp provides enrichment opportunities in math, science, literature, languages, arts, theatre arts, outdoor activities and life skills, over a 4- to 5-week session. With a 97% retention rate, it produces youth equipped to help others in similar economic and social environs. Higher education awareness is a focus and 99% of the Climbers who complete the full program cycle graduate from high school and of this group, 93% have enrolled in college. It is a modelled expectation for a Climber’s family to continue to help with college visits, applications, scholarship forms, and the encouragement to succeed in higher education choices. To date, an excess of $10 million in college and secondary scholarships has been awarded.
In addition to mentoring Climbers, the year-long advocacy and follow-up program focuses on identifying at-risk, intellectually-gifted students. With the help of area public schools, Jacob’s Ladder is able to maintain the number of qualified children in the program. It is anticipated the five Climbers enrolled from the Staunton/Waynesboro area are to continue. At this writing, new applicants are being interviewed.
Current Operating Budget: $273,900