Group works to lift Arizona’s 46th-place ranking for kids’ wellbeing

Group works to lift Arizona’s 46th-place ranking for kids’ wellbeing

By Diana Whittle

bacl_to_school_BRH_0263For the past 16 years, Tempe youth have had a
friend in Lynette Stonefeld and the program
she manages, “Commitment to Schools.”
“We serve more than 6,000 kids and their
families in the Tempe Union, Tempe Elementary
and Kyrene school districts by collaborating with
leaders in education, business, social service, and
government,” said Stonefeld.
The mission of Commitment to Schools (C2S) is
to surround students with a community of support
and to empower them to stay in school and to achieve
in life, explains Stonefeld.
“C2S serves as a broker of services to local
public schools. We assist with identifying the needs
of individual schools and locate existing community
resources to help address those needs.
“This is accomplished by working to achieve
several objectives: we ensure that students have
access to basic needs, such as food, clothing and
school supplies; we engage parents so that they know
how to support their children’s education; and we
encourage community partners to participate and to
become advocates for children.”
Operating under the umbrella of the Tempe
Community Council, which is a 501c3 organization,
C2S coordinates community resources at the school
site, or in an accessible location.
Their services include coordinating “Thrive to
Five,” which promotes school readiness from birth
to kindergarten; family resource centers that assist
students in kindergarten through fifth grade; and
“Threadz,” which is a resource center for teens at
Tempe High School and Compadre North, says
Stonefeld.
“Our dedicated board members represent all
sectors of the community. They are committed
to assuring that a full range of medical, social,
recreational, and educational services are available
as identified through our school and community
partnerships.
“We are funded through SRP, AVENT,
Cox Charities and the state of Arizona, along
with individual contributions.” Some recent
accomplishments of C2S over the last school year
include:
• Hosted 352 classes for parents and caregivers
and attended by more than 2,900 adults;
• Distributed free clothing, shoes, personal
items, and school supplies to more than 700 youth at
the Teen Resource Center;
• Provided mental health services to 408
high school students by C2S-funded prevention
counselors;
• Assisted 278 families to apply for state health
programs;
• Distributed more than 400 backpacks to lowincome
students;
• And, coordinated more than 87 free eye exams
and eyeglasses for low-income students.
The need for the services provided by C2S
continues to grow, which is no surprise when
considering the results of the most recent “Kids
Count” indicators of the well being of families
across the nation. Compiled annually by the Annie
E. Casey Foundation, the Kids Count report ranks
each state according to economic and educational
measurements.
The 2014 Kids Count report lists the wellbeing
of children in Arizona as being 46th in the nation,
with 50 being the lowest rank.
The data is delivered to politicians, elected
officials and government staff to use in developing
policy positions that improve the conditions for
children in the state.
“We continue to see that families in Arizona lack
secure and full employment,” said Stonefeld, “which
is a contributing factor in the number of children
living in poverty in the state.
According to Kids Count data, 27 percent of
Arizona’s youth live in poverty.
It’s the on-going challenge to prepare all Tempe
youth to learn and to perform well at schools that
continues to motivate Stonefeld.
“While many people look at Tempe as a very
middle-class community, we do have struggling
families living here.”
To learn more about the programs of C2S, to
find a donation wish list or volunteer opportunities,
visit their website at www.c2stempe.org

Photo by Billy Hardiman

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