Rise Community Center

Rise Community Center – August 2019

Rise Community Center operates Spark, an afterschool program in Jenison and Hudsonville elementary schools that serves often marginalized students. Spark is currently in five schools, where faculty identify high-risk students to participate in the program based on the following criteria: students who are 1) living below the poverty threshold and at risk of repeating a cycle of poverty, 2) falling behind academically, 3) struggling to develop peer relationships or 4) experiencing adverse home-life situations. With the $10,000 donation, Spark will add two new schools to its program.


“Statistics tell us that 20-45% (depending on which elementary) of area students hover around or below the poverty threshold,” says Shana DeWent, Founder of Rise Community Center and Spark. “But it’s not easy to track students who are struggling with peer relationships, currently in foster care, or dealing with abuse, a divorce or learning disorder. School personnel help us identify students who need Spark the most, and we work to develop their leadership skills, build community and overcome the obstacles that life has placed before them.”


The expansion of Spark into additional school will enroll between 20 and 40 additional students, but will also impact these students’ families, says DeWent. Spark alleviates the cost of childcare – which often exceeds the cost of mortgage or rent – because it is a tuition-free program. This allows struggling families to get ahead and break the cycle of poverty.


For more information on the Spark and Rise Community Center, visit www.risecommunitycenter.org.