Serving Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods
By The Hand is strategically located in Chicago’s most under-resourced, lowest-academic-performing neighborhoods. Having multiple locations enables us to serve areas where the need is the greatest. It also allows us to reach the lowest-performing kids throughout the city. If we were to serve only one neighborhood, we would have to broaden our criteria in order to reach our goal of serving nearly 2,000 kids by the year 2020.
Identifying kids who are in critical need of attention
By The Hand works closely with principals from Chicago Public Schools to identify children who are in critical need of attention—kids most likely to drop out of school. At first, they are reading below standards and their behavior is often problematic. Yet, as they realize how precious they are to God, their attitude towards themselves and others begins to change—as do their grades along with the entire trajectory of their lives.
Providing a safe environment during the most dangerous time of day
Over the years, we have provided more than 1,300,000 safe passages to and from our clubs, where we offer a safe, caring learning environment during the after-school hours, when most crimes against kids are committed. This helps our kids concentrate better and learn more, since “stressor” chemicals inhibit comprehension and memory.
Emphasizing academic excellence
Academically, our kids have been meeting milestone after milestone, year after year. Last year, our kids earned a 2.76 GPA, and 84 percent of them passed all of their classes. We also saw 43 percent of our kids make the honor roll.
Accelerating growth through blended learning
By The Hand is using innovative teaching and technology applications to ensure that 100 percent of our students are reading at age-appropriate and grade-appropriate levels, equipping them for success in school and in life.
This year, we continued our blended learning program at all of our sites. Two to three times a week, students rotate between two learning stations for 20 to 30 minutes:
• Computer stations where they work individually and at their own pace on Lexia Reading Core5 software.
• Homework stations where students receive assistance from team leaders and/or volunteers.
Giving kids the gift of literacy
Because reading is a major predictor of academic success, By The Hand offers a technology-enabled, blended learning program to help our first- to eighth-grade students improve their literacy skills. By combining computerized assessment and reading instruction with personalized attention, our kids improved their reading level by 1.1 grades last year, with some students improving four levels.
Fostering a culture of reading
Children who have greater access to books read more—and the more kids read and are read to, the more proficient they become in reading in the early grades. As a result, our kids are learning to read, and reading to learn.
Knocking down every barrier to learning
Conventional programs that feed children’s minds but not their bodies, or that meet their emotional needs without teaching moral values, are limited in what they can accomplish. From the start, By The Hand has taken a holistic approach to child development. Physically, 100 percent of our kids receive hot, nutritious meals and basic clothing and medical care, including dental and eye care—and eyeglasses when necessary.
Emphasizing spiritual growth
We are grateful that nearly 83 percent of our kids who attended By The Hand last year have professed faith in Jesus, the foundation for an abundant life. As they begin to realize how precious they are to God, their attitudes and behavior begin to change, as do their grades. According to a recent study of students with a religious affiliation, they are 40 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 70 percent more likely to enroll in a college.
By The Hand is committed to holistically serving children in critical need of intervention. We enroll and serve kids based on need, regardless of faith or religion. While our program is faith-based, participation in religious activities is optional and completely voluntary for all program participants. Children may be invited to join in religious services or events, but their decision to–or not to–participate does not influence the nature or quality of services provided.
Club for Big Kids (CBK)
Walking alongside our kids throughout their high school and college years is critical to helping them realize their full potential as adults who walk closely with the Lord. For that reason, we offer CBK at four of our locations. As a result, our students are developing into honor roll students, with 100 percent of our seniors graduating from high school with a hope and vision for the future.
A College Prep Program
To foster a college-going culture, By The Hand has a college prep program. We prepare our kids for college entrance examinations and take them to college days and fairs, campus tours and one-on-one meetings with admissions officers—complete with campus meals and overnight stays in college residence halls or hotels. As a result, 85 percent of our graduating seniors have enrolled in college or university.
Club for College Students (CCS)
Forty-one percent of our high school graduates are attending or have graduated from college or a technical school. To keep up with our kids as they matriculate from high school to college, we offer CCS. We help our kids with college enrollment, counseling, securing scholarships and financial aid, transportation, care packages, spiritual discipleship—and more. Throughout it all, By The Hand walks alongside our kids, helping them make wise decisions as they navigate through college and discover God’s will for their lives.
Emphasizing a holistic approach
By The Hand has always been known for emphasizing a holistic approach to child development. We literally and figuratively take our kids by the hand and walk alongside them from the time they enroll in our program until they’re walking independently as well-adjusted, responsible adults. We tutor them to academic excellence. We mentor them to make wise, life-defining decisions. And we care for them as our own, meeting their basic nutritional and medical needs.
Mentoring kids to reach their potential
By The Hand is known for its mentoring approach, working with families and schools and providing the ongoing support that kids need. With the involvement of caring adults, our kids are saying no to drugs, gang violence and teenage pregnancy. They are rejecting illiteracy and poverty as a way of life, developing their God-given talents through unique, enriching opportunities.
We have found that serving approximately 264 kids per location creates an ideal environment. Limiting the size to fewer than 30 kids per class from kindergarten to twelfth grade enables us to love each child with the personal, holistic approach that distinguishes By The Hand from conventional programs.