One aspect of running a non-profit is raising support to fund the various expenses we incur over the year. Most people don’t realize how much it takes to execute everything from tiny details of purchasing the milk each week, to the larger ticket items of salary to compensate four part-time employees. While so much of what makes up Lift is volunteer based, it still takes money to make Lift the successful organization it’s been.
We are blessed to say that over 30 individuals have given monetary gifts to Lift over this past year. This kind of community support is exciting for us because we see how much this town cares about its children and desires to make a difference.
Aside from monetary support this past year we’ve had over 100 individuals give of their time, and energy to contribute to the Lift Impact. We are always saying to each other that it takes a team – or a family – to make this thing work. And we really mean that.
Yet even with all these incredible assets, there’s still been a need for additional funding. Because we expanded this year to include one more grade of students (fulfilling our original vision) our budget has increased. In order to try and fill the gap, we applied for a grant from the Community Foundation. This month we received the exciting news that the Grant County Community Foundation had granted our request with $10,000 for employment growth! Thanks in part to this gift:
“We Can Fulfill Our Vision!”
A Merry Christmas for Lift indeed. Three years ago Lift started with 12 students and one grade, with the vision to reach 36 students across 3 grades. That dream has now been realized. Huge thank you to the Community Foundation and their continued support of Lift!
In 2014, as I was still a college student I had the opportunity to work with Lift. When I first heard about Lift, I was attracted by this program and the vision behind it. Therefore, when I was approached with the opportunity to become an intern for this program, I immediately jumped right into it.
I remembered how impressed I was when I attended the first staff meeting. It was a brand new non-profit in rural Indiana – yet the meeting and the program was conducted with such professionalism and intentionality as if it had been established for years. I was a social work major at Taylor and from a best-practice standpoint, Lift had it from the very beginning. I was convinced from my first day that Lift was going to do something big in this community and I wanted to be a part of it. Two years and a college degree later, I am still here in Upland. Why? Because of Lift. The vision, the impact I’m seeing, and the children themselves have all captured my heart.
Throughout my three years with Lift I have worked with people who have trusted God’s call to this vision, even when the future wasn’t clear. Starting up an organization is no small task. To do so in a way that is not only professional but effective is another feat all together. What is significant about Lift is the community effort to come along side these children and care for their whole person.
Lift focuses on the mind, body, and the soul of our kids because we recognize that a problem is never just one thing. When academics are hard, it pours into other areas of your life. When relationships are difficult, it affects more than just your social life. When money is tight, it impacts more than simply the food on the table. Lift tries to step in relationally, academically, and spiritually in the lives of our kids and we see the impact it’s making. What makes Lift stand out from other program’s I’ve seen is the fact that it’s not just a program. Lift walks side by side, doing life with the students and families that come our way. We show up. Day after day after day – committed to these kids, this community, and a God who calls us into relationship with our neighbor.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
This is simple but profound wisdom from Dr. Seuss, and it is the foundational reason why Lift focuses on literacy. We are convinced that when we give children a boost in their ability and enjoyment of reading, we are handing them keys to unlock their imaginations and the doors to understanding.
The connection between literacy and learning used to be inherent. But now we are in a literacy crisis. When I started teaching High School English some 30 years ago, I noticed that most of my students did not enjoy reading. The ones who were hoping to attend college forced themselves to read because they knew it would build their vocabulary and knowledge base. But persuading them that it was fun was an uphill battle. As someone who had grown up loving the experience of getting “lost” in a book, I couldn’t understand, until I realized that the entertainment of stories in print had been replaced with the much more accessible visual entertainment. There was no way that black and white words on a page could compete with moving, colorful images for delivering “stories.” Without the draw of stories, reading became flat, and without the enjoyment of reading, there just wasn’t much of it. On that trajectory, we have become a culture that is increasingly less literate.
According to the website for Reading is Foundational:
In addition to addressing the educational crisis, Lift’s focus on literacy has a relational component. If we can add words to the vocabulary bank in each child’s mind, we can help them emotionally and interpersonally as well. The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is appropriate when we see something that is so significant it takes our breath away. But in our media saturated culture, visuals have almost eclipsed our ability to find or even know very many words to describe what we see and think and feel to the extent that we are almost crippled in our communication. This effects our skill at explaining pain, communicating joy or even handling anger. If words are the building blocks on which information is placed, the more complicated the concept, the more it depends on words for explanation. Everyone needs the ability to understand concepts like: “trustworthy,” “hopelessness,” or “self-control.” Try teaching those concepts to children without the foundation of other words to explain them. As children have more words to describe what they are feeling, they can use the words as bridges to connect them to the people in their lives.
There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy