The foundation endeavors to create a just and equitable society across lines of religious difference. We partner with faith-related nonprofits that are community builders, educators, and public conversation conveners who address unjust practices and systems to cultivate strong, resilient, and plural local populations. Listening to our grantees, the we support the adaptation and creation of generative, peaceful solutions. We challenge our grantees to be strategic and responsive to needs on the ground, encouraging goal-focused work that seeks measurable impact. Our grantees respect and learn from all faith traditions and beliefs, and work at the intersection of religious and ideological divides: shared human values. Their goal is to help others grow to their fullest potential in mind, body, and spirit.  

 

Our partners in Action: Side by Side

Side by Side is a grassroots effort by nine Laurel churches to impact social and educational justice for all students. Side by Side works at the intersection of ecumenical relations as a force for building community, addressing immigration issues, and empowering parents to participate in the elementary education of their children. Through its Parents’ Academy, any parent of children ages four to seven in Laurel’s public school system can attend 10 free classes per year that teach the parents, who are mostly immigrants, that no matter their immigration status the academy is a safe place to learn (in Spanish or English) about the American school system, its cognitive and behavioral goals, and its philosophy of active student-parent-school participation.

Parents learn to engage with their children on their reading and math skills through appropriate games and other fun activities, in ways that go beyond the old threat of flash cards. Parents often cut out and prepare math and reading games that they bring home to play with their children in their own language. There is also after-school tutoring sessions for children struggling to learn and achieve. In addition, whole families are invited to Academy nights or Family Game Nights where parents and children interact over dinner and share their stories of Side by Side success. While parents learn, their children enjoy structured play overseen by teams of trained church volunteers.

Churches also partner with Side by Side to sponsor community picnics, bike rides, breakfasts, and other fund- raising activities that support the ongoing venture. Because Side by Side believes in sharing its program, strategies, and structure with other communities, it has been compiling online manuals that prepare other towns to begin their own parent empowerment programs, and it has caught the attention of its county council which is funding and encouraging replication in other schools.


What We Are Reading

The article below delves into the philosophy of creating classroom success through parental participation and the obvious healthy family dynamic it creates.

This report provides updated research on third-grade reading proficiency and its relationship to continued academic success and the cycle of inter-generational poverty. It discusses the need for an increased focus on school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, family support, and high-quality teaching.