Access to and participation in high-quality education is the most effective and empowering way to diminish widespread poverty. Young people that receive a quality education will develop problem-solving skills, have more opportunities for employment, be more likely to secure a higher income, and give back to their community.
Keeping kids in school is also a vital aspect of violence prevention. Spending more time around school-oriented peers in positive supervised environments—like classrooms and after-school programs – fosters an environment where young people can grow into productive thinkers, problem-solvers, and community members.
Education, in this way, is not just a means to an end, but rather an end in itself, as it empowers and expands a young person’s choices and opportunities.
Local community leaders like the Claretians are uniquely positioned to work in partnership with local schools and parents to ensure that young people have sustained access to the kind of education that will allow them to become successful, informed, and productive community members.
These are some of the high-quality educational programs that are funded in part by St. Jude League Community Development across the United States and Canada:
Little Ones Preschool is licensed and accredited and has been serving the Corpus Christi community since 1978. The school offer a variety of preschool programs for children from ages 18 months to 5 years. The students, many of whom are refugees, come from as many as 12 different countries. With a curriculum that incorporates music, computers, art, science, and reading, Little Ones Preschool enriches, engages, and educates our youngest community members.
Our Lady of Guadalupe School (OLGS) in South Chicago serves approximately 200 students in Kindergarten through 8th grade, 97 percent of whom receive free or reduced-price lunches. The school also offers before- and after-school programming and safe transportation to provide opportunities to students that may not otherwise have the resources to attend school. Using scholarships, low student-to-teacher ratios, dedicated and committed teachers, and annual standards testing, OLGS creates a rigorous academic environment for the next generation of community leaders. Learn more here.
San Gabriel Mission Elementary School (SGMES) is located on of the original Spanish missions in California and is one of California’s oldest Kindergarten through 8th grade parish schools. The Claretians made plans to open a school to serve Spanish and Mexican families when they began ministering to the parish in 1908. SGMES is committed to academic excellence through a standards-based curriculum and strives to awaken in students an enthusiasm for life-long learning and an ambition to achieve academic excellence and to lead a well-balanced life. Learn more here.
San Gabriel Mission High School all-girls high school located on the historic grounds of San Gabriel Mission. It offers financially accessible opportunities to serve a diverse and inclusive student body of local, commuter, and international students in the Greater Los Angeles area. For 60 years, it has remained committed to inspiring, educating, and empowering young women and to providing a safe and nurturing environment while focusing on individual development. Learn more here.
Sacred Heart Catholic School offers a spiritually and academically rigorous education for Preschool through 8th grade, with significant tuition assistance options available. The school emphasizes educational growth and excellence through goal setting and high academic standards. Students take part in a well-rounded curriculum that includes technology, art, Spanish, and music with religious education and guidance integrated throughout.
Saint Joseph Catholic Elementary School is an educational community dedicated to preparing its students spiritually, academically, socially, technologically, physically, and emotionally for the future. The school works tirelessly to create a peaceable school environment rich in diverse academic opportunities for a multicultural population.
Founded in 1895, Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) aims to not only provide quality, innovative learning experiences, but also foster spiritual, personal, and professional growth that prepares students for success and continued service. With over 2,700 students enrolled, the educational community at OLLU is one that transforms individuals as they discover their purposes in life.
Founded in 1954, Collège Clarétain is a private secondary school and a diverse, dynamic, innovative living environment that meets the needs of today’s young people and their families. Whether students are enrolled in day school or living on the school’s campus, Collège Clarétain’s daily lessons, organized sports, and dedicated study schedule are decisively geared towards their success and well-being.
After-School Programs: Music, Sports, and Camp
The Corpus Christi Youth Basketball League (CCYBL) teaches its young players about teamwork, setting personal goals, and working towards them. During their 10-game season, the league’s coaches help their players learn the value of physical exercise, hard work, sportsmanship, dedication, practice, and respect for themselves and others.
Coaches also serve as mentors and positive role models for the members of their teams while building lasting relationships in a fun and safe setting that serves as a second family to many kids. Seventy-five percent of those involved in the program are not active members of the Corpus Christi parish, making community building especially important.
This group of young players practices ways to positively focus and channel their energy while learning to value each other’s contributions and unique talents. The league stresses that all players have something valuable to contribute by making sure that all the athletes on each team play in every game, no matter their skill level or the score.
Volunteers from the program reach out to community families to make sure everyone has the chance to play. This program offers resources beyond what is accessible at the local schools through volunteers who mentor, tutor, arrange transportation, and even help pay fees for families in need of assistance. Scholarships and discounts are available from the CCYBL and Corpus Christi parish to families with three or more children involved in the league or who are active in the parish, which is especially important given the high rates of poverty in the surrounding area.
Sports programs like these help kids develop many qualities – including the ability to follow instructions, filter out distractions, and manage aggression and anxiety levels while working hard toward a goal. Involvement in athletics helps build self-confidence and strong, healthy bodies.
By combining life skills with a fun opportunity to socialize with friends, the CCYBL provides an essential opportunity for the Corpus Christi parish to impact the lives of the community’s youth. Your donation to the St. Jude League Community Development will help fund vital programs in our communities, like those at Corpus Christi Parish.
Since 1969, Our Lady of Fatima Perth Amboy Wolves youth basketball teams has provided opportunities for young men and women to learn discipline and teamwork and come to understand their own value through the support of the community. The all-volunteer program staff use basketball as a way to get kids involved and help them overcome the challenges they face; the program is based on the belief that if even one life is changed, it’s worth it! Their motto is, “You can’t change them all, but if you change one, your work is done.”
The program serves 30 to 60 young people between the boys and girls teams. Currently there are two teams, a JV Freshmen team for 9th- and 10th-grade, and a Senior team for 11th- and 12th-grade. When funding allows, the program also sponsors a cheerleading squad for middle schoolers.
Many of the youth involved come from immigrant families or minority backgrounds. The basketball program aims to help participants focus on things outside of their everyday struggles or distractions. The kids thrive and are willing to give their all knowing that they are believed in and valued by adults and peers in their community. Supportive programs like this are vital in this community where many students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and face a myriad of challenges at home.
For the Wolves, personal growth and development is as important as winning basketball games. Not only does the team practice four days a week from October to May and play at least one game a week, they also participate in volunteer opportunities together, attend Mass at the parish every week as a team, and are held to high academic standards. If a player fails to meet these expectations, they will sit out during games, even if it means losing a championship.
Another important aspect of the program is the development of leadership. The current head of the program originally became involved as a player in the 1990s, and many other former players have come back to volunteer either with the team or with other initiatives in the community.
In 2013, Claretians and local community leaders started an after-school Marimba Ensemble at San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, California.
The marimba is a xylophone-like percussion instrument consisting of wooden keys that produce sounds when struck with mallets to create rhythms and songs. The instrument is quite large and requires the musicians to work together as a team to play it. Thus, being in this Marimba Ensemble is not just about music education and expression; participating in the group teaches the young players valuable life skills, such as leadership, collaboration, and a sense of purpose. The Marimba Ensemble provides a safe and engaging out-of-school community for these young people to spend their time with.
The San Gabriel Marimba Ensemble plays gigs all around the area, including large cultural celebrations, city and parish events, quinceañeras, private parties, retirements, and birthdays. Playing these events helps the group raise funds to continue and expand the ensemble while also allowing the young musicians to form connections with their larger community, meet new people, and learn about history and different cultures.
Students enrolled in this after-school program have shown improved high school graduation rates and increased enrollment in college programs. An adult leader of the ensemble shared:
“It’s a family. They come together, they work together, they teach one another. And they are growing as leaders. It instills confidence in them. They mentor the younger players by being good examples, as well as showing them how to play.”
In Québec (Canada), the Claretians own and operate Camp Claret one of the most beautiful summer camps for children and young adults. Every year, through the generosity of local benefactors, many children whose parents cannot afford the cost of the camp, are given financial assistance.
In addition to multiple after-school programs, the Quinn Center of Saint Eulalia offers a Summer Enrichment Program for elementary-age children to attend. The program includes games, academics, fine art projects, and more, and it even offers high schoolers the opportunity to become camp counselors and receive professional development training.
Campus Outreach Programs
St. Jude League Community Development is proud to accompany the next generation of community leaders through campus outreach programs in Missouri and California. Our campus ministers invite students to become more active in social service and volunteer programs and provide undergraduate and graduate students with access to counseling, reflection and discussion groups, annual retreats, social events, and community service projects. By supporting today’s students, we support tomorrow’s leaders.
O’Reilly Catholic Student Center, Springfield, MO
Serving: Missouri State University, Drury University and Ozarks Technical Community College
St. Paul Catholic Newman Center, Fresno, CA
Serving: Fresno State University, Fresno Pacific University and Fresno City College