WHY DID WE BUILD?
For more than three decades, Saint Mark has made it a priority to invest into the lives of the next generation. We strive to put children first, the way Jesus did while he was here on earth. Our ministry has impacted thousands of youth in our community by providing a myriad of programs geared toward biblical training and social development.
Unfortunately, children born into neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, with unmet health and mental health needs, who have been victims of violence, or who have spent time in foster care are at increased risk of interacting with the juvenile justice system. Racial and ethnic disparities underscore the need for increased efforts in communities of color.*
Our new Children and Youth Center will allow us to reach more children who are losing hope and being left behind.
but make up
of children arrested
of children adjudicated
of children in residential placement.
Source: Children’s Defense Fund
What’s offered inside?
Our Mission is still the same. Our church realizes the crucial need of helping the next generation succeed. Their foundation is Jesus Christ. This center will offer three different age-appropriate worship services each Sunday and Wednesday. At the core of the Saint Mark Youth Ministry is the mission to train up Christ-centered youth.
A recent report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education highlights that southern states suspend and expel black students at exponentially higher rates than whites. In Arkansas, black students make up 21% of the student population but make up half—50% of all suspensions.
The report strongly recommends that “Black families, religious congregations, and others concerned about racial justice must hold schools accountable and partner with educators to identify alternatives to policies and practices that sustain the school-to-prison pipeline.”
That is what we are doing. Through the Reclaiming Scholars program, Saint Mark is partnering with the Little Rock School District and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to offer students an alternative to out-of-school suspensions. During their days of suspension, students will receive educational instruction, counseling and mentorship. Through Reclaiming Scholars, we can provide a positive and encouraging atmosphere. We can inspire hope.
Program IMPACT is Improving youth by Measuring Progress of Academics and Character through Transformation. Through our partnership with the Little Rock School District and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, students at Franklin Elementary will receive educational enrichment in this after-school program, tailor-made to meet their specific needs. Currently, the Arkansas Department of Education school report card score for Franklin is D. Students who attend Program IMPACT will experience customized learning sessions and explorations of various subjects to supplement school-day offerings. Local businesses have signed on to offer fun, interactive activities designed to broaden students’ scope of knowledge about their community beyond the schoolhouse.