LIFT-Boston and the Circle of Promise Spotlighted in The New York Times

By LIFT on January 18, 2012

Categories: News, Our Work

We were thrilled to have LIFT-Boston’s partnership with the Circle of Promise, the City of Boston, and Mayor Thomas M. Menino featured in David Bornstein’s “Fixes” column in The New York Times. Bornstein cited our clients’ achievements over the last year and our goals to expand our stabilization services and to support families holistically in order to improve academic performance among Boston Public Schools’ students. Read an excerpt from the article below, and read the whole article here.

Listening to stories of LIFT clients, it becomes abundantly clear that efforts to address poverty and social problems with fragmented, short-term fixes make no sense. LIFT is now part of a partnership with the city of Boston called the Circle of Promise that is linking schools with community-based efforts to stabilize poor families.

Within the Circle, the city has identified 12 “turnaround schools” with 6,000 students and 600 students who are “most at risk.” Each school has a liaison whose job is to get to know the kids and the issues their families are facing, and when necessary, refer parents or guardians to partner organizations like LIFT. “As we were working with the children, we realized that you have to help the whole families,” explained Marie St. Fleur, the city’s chief of Advocacy and Strategic Investment. “It’s not about case management. It’s about equipping parents with the tools they need to move towards economic stability. That means navigating a very complex human services system we’ve built.”

Over the past 11 months, LIFT-Boston’s Roxbury office has assisted 564 families within the Circle. Approximately 80 percent requested housing services. More than half requested employment assistance. A third spoke no English. A third sought job training. One in five had no health insurance. (In Massachusetts, only 2 percent of the state’s population was uninsured in 2010.) To date, the student advocates have helped as follows: 19 families averted eviction; 23 obtained stable housing; 11 got into emergency shelters; 23 found jobs; 9 enrolled in job training; 61 received public benefits they were entitled to; 34 completed personal budgets; 47 were connected to community health resources; 43 were connected to child care, after-school and tutoring programs; and 118 received basic resources like food and clothing.

“It’s a beginning,” notes St. Fleur. “We’ve seen absenteeism dropping. Families have gotten stabilized with housing, jobs, skills.” It will take time to see how this affects student learning. It’s hard to imagine it won’t help. Research indicates that students who go homeless, move frequently, or experience turmoil at home are far more likely to fail in school.