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Jacob's Ladder

Mission: The mission of Jacob’s Ladder is to aid and encourage at-risk, intellectually gifted middle school age children to reach their full potential.

Community Need: At-risk, intellectually gifted children are often in environmental and economical situations that preclude them from academic enrichment opportunities.  Studies show school budgets for gifted programs are tight or nonexistent and gifted children within a school population are often overlooked and administratively underserved, with poor and minority children even more so.  Jacob’s Ladder recognizes and addresses the following needs and problems of their students:

  • Environmental and cultural isolation that allows fewer opportunities for participation in cultural, educational, or civic activities; 85% are from single-parent homes
  • Lack of belonging that comes from a positive, supporting body or organization
  • Poverty and dietary and health problems; 85% are in the Free or Reduced Lunch Program
  • Anger management and interpersonal behavior skills
  • Low self-worth and fear of failure
  • Lack of organizational skills often resulting in poor school performance
  • Little or no awareness of educational opportunities or the tools to access them

Constituents Served: Climbers are identified as gifted by the time they reach the 4th grade. 85% live in single-parent or guardian-led home; 85% are eligible for Free/Reduced Lunches; 45% white, 44% African-American, 10% Hispanic, and 1% other.  Last year, 64 children and their families were served. This summer two Waynesboro Climbers will attend camp and several Augusta County students are being interviewed.

Primary Activities: Jacob’s Ladder provides a proactive summer residential enrichment program to foster the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of gifted, at-risk students. During the year, they provide advocacy and follow-up visits at school, home, and through retreats and outings. With the help of guidance counselors at the local public schools, a 4th or 5th-grade student and their family or caregiver are interviewed. After a successful interview, the child (Climber) attends the 4 week Enrichment Camp through their eighth-grade year and participates in the advocacy program throughout the year.  Academic classes are held in the morning and total 18 hours each week. Afternoons are filled with outdoor activities, clubs, music, and art followed by evenings with on-dorm group time and devotions. Many have a first-time experience with singing and dancing in a theatre production, use of a computer to design a house, creating solar engines, or practicing job interview skills.

The program provides Climbers with the essential element of time with teachers, resident advisors, and staff.  The Advocacy/Follow-up program continues throughout the school year. The advocacy counselor provides outreach to the Climber’s school and organizes a Spring Retreat and a Winter Event.  The cost per student for the Jacob’s Ladder summer camp and one year of advocacy/follow-up is $4,225. The entire program is free of charge to the Climbers and their families.  Jacob’s Ladder is seeking to support 60 Climbers for the Summer Residential Enrichment Camp. It will fund two students from Waynesboro.

Amount Requested: $8,450

Operating Budget: $306,900

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