By The Hand Club For Kids Serves At-Risk Students
Malachi, age 9, attends the By The Hand Club For Kids at Moving Everest Charter School (BTH-ME) in Chicago’s Austin community, where one of his favorite activities is chapel. “I liked learning about the ten plagues, and how Moses kept asking Pharaoh to let his people go, and a lot of other things,” he says. “And I learned that God always has a plan.” When asked if God has a plan for his life, Malachi nods vigorously. “Yes He does, ‘cause He always knows I’m gonna be brave.”
Courage is important for kids in Malachi’s community, where 43% live in poverty, unemployment is at 21%, and where violence is a common occurrence. Like many students from inner city, under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago, students in Austin face many education challenges—especially in meeting reading standards.
BTH-ME is a 2017 recipient of a We Raise Foundation GrantsPlus grant to support after-school literacy, health and wellness, and spiritual programs for students who need them the most.
Malachi’s first memory of BTH-ME happened when he was attending kindergarten at another school. His mom picked him up from school one day; then, instead of going directly home, she drove up to the BTH-ME facility construction site.
“She took a picture of the building and then looked it up when we got home,” he says. By the time Malachi was in 1st grade, he was attending BTH-ME. He completed 3rd grade in summer 2018 reading above his grade level, thanks to Lexia, BTH’s online literacy program.
BTH began in 2001 serving 16 students from Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project. By 2008, BTH had expanded to school locations in Altgeld-Gardens, Austin, and Englewood. In 2014, Moving Everest was granted a charter to open a K-8 school in Austin, with BTH serving the students in the after-school hours. The 50,000-square-foot facility opened in August 2015.
Though BTH and Moving Everest are separate entities, staff members work together to help students reach their academic and personal goals. Kids enrolled in BTH-ME receive a full day of learning and extensive wrap-around services, such as mentoring, eye exams, mental health counseling, dental exams, and nutritious meals.
Malachi enjoys going to “the club” and hanging out with friends, and he is proud of his reading accomplishments. But like any other 9-year-old, he enjoys the variety of physical activities at BTH the most.
“They let us do things we can’t do at home, like play outside, and play basketball and watersports,” he says, adding that his favorite BTH helper is his team leader, Mr. Markel. “He takes us to the gym and he makes me feel excited about every activity that we do,” he says. “I feel good at the By The Hand Club.”
Malachi’s favorite adult helper is probably Mr. Rodney – who just happens to be his father. Rodney is a team leader in another classroom, but Malachi is always welcome to stop in for a hug or word of encouragement. Rodney is grateful that Malachi can experience everything that BTH has to offer.
“As a parent, one of the best things is seeing your child succeed,” Rodney says. “I have been working with children for 15 years and the kids here at By The Hand are the best part of the job.”
Your generous financial support allows students in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods a better chance at success in school and in life. Thank you.