Kidz Rule partners with local organizations who are on the front lines of providing educational and support services in the community. One such program is Jacksonville, FL-based Open Doors.
Open Doors is an afterschool program that serves at-risk children in Jacksonville, FL. When two elementary school teachers wanted to know why many of their students were not participating in safety net programs on campus, they learned the reason was not a lack of interest. Instead, a lack of transportation in the afternoon, the danger of crossing one of the busiest streets in the city if they walked home, and the cost of extended day programs put these programs out of reach. They also learned that more than 100 of these students lived in the same apartment complex.
In 2006, these teachers decided to visit Timberwood Trace Apartments to assess how they could best help students in their own neighborhood. Beginning with a series of supervised playdates, the teachers got to know students outside the school walls. They developed relationships with parents and laid the foundation for what became Open Doors.
Over the past eight years, Open Doors has grown to meet the educational and social needs of students in grades K-5 and their families.
- Tutoring: Certified teachers and a team of trained volunteers provide tutoring three days a week for K-5 students. Staff help students with homework assignments and provide supplemental work to reinforce lessons. This individualized approach to each student’s academic needs helps prepare them for success in the classroom.
- Mentoring: In addition to math and reading, Open Doors focuses on behavior management. Through one-on-one interactions both in the neighborhood and at school, staff work with students to develop healthy habits and life skills. Staff also encourage former Open Doors students now in middle school to help younger students with their work and to serve as their day-to-day role models.
- Summer Day Camp: Open Doors is committed to providing fun, engaging summer camp experiences for children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend camp. Participants are exposed to a curriculum of reading, math, science, character education, physical activity, and behavior management strategies—all in a safe, encouraging environment.
- Community Enrichment: Open Doors believes in the importance of serving the entire Timberwood community. Each year, Open Doors staff identify resources and partners to host festivals, food deliveries, and events aimed at women’s health and wellbeing. In 2013, Open Doors established a relationship with Florida Kid Care and The Players to offer residents of Timberwood access to free healthcare in the convenience of their own community.
Kidz Rule has partnered with Open Doors to bring resources and organizational expertise to its programs. Kidz Rule provides Open Doors with resources to pay teachers to tutor each week at Timberwood. Currently, Kidz Rule is exploring plans to expand Open Door’s programs to include additional health, financial, budgeting and career resources for Timberwood residents. Kidz Rule also plans to replicate Open Doors at multiple complexes in Northeast Florida.