Page 10 - Fall_2017_Vallejo_Chamber_of_Commerce_Magazine
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Most Leaven sites operate four days a   The importance of The Leaven’s presence   of the older kids. “When we have these
                                                                                                                                 week, some five days, and the programs   has become pretty obvious. Since they’ve   kids in the program, they’re unavailable
        After-School                                                                                                             and a half to two hours. Much of the   recent five-year statistics show an 82   them to get home from school,” Hagan
                                                                                                                                 last on average between an hour
                                                                                                                                                                       been located at The Groves, the most
                                                                                                                                                                                                              to the kids across the street waiting for
                                                                                                                                                                                                              explained. “And also, the kids are
                                                                                                                                                                       percent drop in violent crime in the area.
                                                                                                                                 time is spent on helping kids with their
                                                                                                                                                                       And its Vacaville site, which opened not
                                                                                                                                                                       even a year ago, has already shown     doing better in school, so they’re more
                                                                                                                                                                                                              engaged in school and are less likely to
                                                                                                                                                                                                              be in gang culture because they see a
                                                                                                                                                                       tremendous progress as well. “When you
        Accessibility                                                                                                                                                  go in that neighborhood now, you see   different path for themselves.”
                                                                                                                                                                       people out talking and kids playing with
                                                                                                                                                                       each other,” said Hagan. “Before, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                              always in need of donations, volunteers,
                                                                                                                                                                       police rolled up and didn’t see anybody   As with most nonprofits, The Leaven is
                                                                                                                                                                       because people were hunkered down in   site directors, and employees. For
                                                                                                                                                                       their apartments, as it was a bad area to   additional information, or to get involved,
        Local nonprofit The Leaven has                                                                                                                                 live in.” At only six months after opening   call them at (855) 622-5439 or visit
                                                                                                                                 homework, with a variety of enrichment   that location, the Chief of Police reported
        innovated after-school programming                                                                                       programs as well. For example, they   that calls for service in that area had
                                                                                                                                 had a lawyer create a legal program to   dropped by 47 percent.
        By Matt Larson                                                                                                           help kids start understand what the law
                                                                                                                                 is and why we have it. They also have   The philosophy is that—even though
                                                                                                                                 a financial literacy program where 5th   kids K-5th grade aren’t necessarily the
                                                                                                                                 graders will actually sit down and work   ones committing the crimes—if they’re left
                     or many kids these days, just because they’re out of school doesn’t mean that their parents
                     are home from work. So where do they go after school? Maybe a friend’s place or a relative’s,               out budgets, wary of how to plan and   unsupervised, they could be initiated into
                                                                                                                                                                       some questionable behavior by some
                                                                                                                                 spend their money wisely.
                     or maybe they just venture out on their own without supervision. They could go to an after-
                     school program, but many require transportation to get there, which is often a hindrance for
                     underprivileged youth. With aims to reduce this problem, The Leaven is a faith-based, statewide
                     (soon-to-be national) nonprofit in Fairfield that provides mentoring and tutoring to K-5th grade at-
        F risk kids in low-income neighborhoods, and they’re doing it in the most accessible way possible.

      “We’re where the kids live,” said Mark   It all began in 2005 when the City of   directly in the apartment complex where
      Hagan, Corporate Relations Director for   Fairfield was looking for a solution to   the kids live, eliminating any transportation
      The Leaven. So instead of requiring kids   reduce crime in the Fairfield mall area.   issues,” he said. “The kids would basically
      to go to some location, The Leaven sets   The community came together and agreed   get off the bus and come to us. That
      up shop right there in the very apartment   on what they needed most: “They all   convenience factor, that accessibility,
      complex that the kids are living in. In                                      makes all the difference in kids coming
      some cases, the buildings even offer up                                      to the program.” By 2009, The Leaven
      vacant apartments that they can use for                                      officially became its own entity.
      the program.
                                                                                   Today, The Leaven operates 16 locations
      “It’s a neighborhood-based rather than a                                     among six cities in Northern California
      community-based, program,” said Hagan.                                       and 2 cities in Southern California. They
      Not to discredit the community-based                                         have big plans to expand nationwide
      programs, but the kids they’re trying to                                     and are currently in talks with about 30
      reach are the ones who would have the                                        new potential sites, nine of which are
      most difficult time getting there. By going                                  already in development. “The demand is
      directly to them, The Leaven is able to be   asked for real after-school mentoring and   very, very high,” said Hagan. “Because
      flexible and customize their services for   tutoring to keep kids engaged in school,”   of our success we get a lot of requests to
      the specific needs of each location. “We   said Hagan. The location of choice,   expand our services. What we have to
      can fine tune each location to best suit   and the first Leaven site, was The Groves   do is find an apartment ownership group
      the needs of that neighborhood; we can   Apartments in Fairfield. “The Groves was   that is willing to make room for us, and
      adjust our hours for them.”            the model for the future that put the site   not every group is open to that.”

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