The planned city of Columbia is now 50 years old. Columbia and the Route One corridor have neighborhoods of high, moderate, and low-income families. It would come as a tremendous surprise to most that Howard County has 22% of the student population on Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS). All of the county’s 12 high schools have some percentage of FARMS students. Four high schools in the county, all in Columbia, have the highest FARMS populations: Hammond, Long Reach, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake. Wilde Lake’s FARMS population is 42%.
For the children of these families, opportunities are often out of reach. They often retreat and become more and more isolated. As a result, their school performance suffers. Many of these children fall into the lowest 25% of academic achievement.
Looking deeper into Howard County’s vibrant racial, ethnic, and economic diversity, we find neighborhoods segregated by race and/or wealth. Many people in our community, especially children, experience an added kind of poverty—the poverty of isolation.
Many people have had to overcome barriers (real or perceived) to become emotionally and economically successful. Most of those people had help or guidance from parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, coaches, and mentors. In effect, they each had an Ohana where everyone served and benefited. All parties were less isolated and grew by helping and learning from each other.
OhanaHC will form an extended community family, an Ohana, around students (and their families) who need the most help. More specifically, OhanaHC seeks to remove obstacles for underserved children, and reduce isolation for all people involved, by forming diverse, long term relationships around high school freshmen in the lowest academic quartile. We will create connections to people (whom we may not normally connect with) by helping our most underserved children become successful community members.
Check out Rita Pierson's incredibly inspirational video about how "every kid needs a champion". Her message is our message. THIS is why we are here!
Join us! Fill out our Become a Volunteer form, today!