Jeremiah Program Develops New Virtual Resources

The Future is Now

Jeremiah Program’s new virtual programming is more than a response to COVID-19. It’s an opportunity to provide services to more mothers and children, including those living in remote and rural areas. 

BY ADRIENNE VAN DER VALK

“We aren’t just treading water in this moment. We’re taking everything we’ve learned about disrupting generational poverty over the last two decades and making sure the structures we put in place equip us to support more moms and more kids quickly.” 

When Jeremiah Program president and CEO Chastity Lord wrote these words in an April 23 blog post, she wasn’t speaking rhetorically. Staff specializing in three different focus areas—child development, life-skills coaching, and virtual empowerment—have been laboring in the background for over a month, now, adapting Jeremiah Program’s signature community support and early childhood education pillars so they can continue to serve mothers and children during the pandemic and beyond. 

With Jeremiah Program staff now working from home, service providers from every campus have been meeting virtually via Zoom to design a new future—one that ensures the ability to serve more moms and kids in new communities. The programming they’re developing—and have now begun rolling out—is nimble, forward-thinking, and scalable. Scalability is important because, as Lord noted in her post, “More pockets of poverty are being created in our country than has been seen in our lifetimes.”

Implementing any kind of virtual programming relies on working devices and a stable internet connection; with this in mind, Jeremiah Program conducted a technology audit across all campuses, both residential and community-based. The audit specifically focused on having video capability so staff can see participants face-to-face—not just hear their voices. Through the support of local and national partners, JP has been able to quickly identify and fill technology gaps across all campuses, including purchasing laptops for every staff member and mother who needed one. Now, with stronger connectivity established, Jeremiah Program is taking the next step: implementing its new virtual programming initiatives.

Child Development 

Before the COVID pandemic, Jeremiah Program was already in the process of enhancing program coordination across all campus child development centers. Crystal Ward, an educational consultant who has been spearheading the implementation of this work, says the goal is to think of all Jeremiah Program early childhood centers as collaborative mini-school district. 

“We should be cascading efforts in such a way that allows increased capacity as well as increased collaboration,” Ward says. “And, so, taking all of the CDCs across the Jeremiah Program and thinking about ways in which we can share best practices and knowledge, as well as capacity, across all of our different sites to ensure all children are getting really top quality materials and guidance from their teachers.”

With the onset of the pandemic, collaborative work that was already underway both pivoted and accelerated. The child development staff quickly began writing, revising, and pushing out downloadable curriculum packets for all pre-K age groups. Mothers can use the activities in these packets to keep their children engaged in learning and key skill development using materials they can easily access at home. New activities will roll out every two weeks through the end of June, with feedback collected between batches to support a continuous improvement cycle. Teachers are checking in with students weekly via Zoom. 

“A lot of the day in early childhood is free play and social-emotional [learning],” says Rebecca Putzer, director of coordinated family services at the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. “We’re really trying to get our parents information and education around, ‘You don’t have to sit with your child for eight hours a day and do structured activities.’ That’s not what it’s about. And that’s not what it’s about in the classroom either. It’s bridging the home and classroom life. Luckily, at Jeremiah, we’ve been able to do that already. This is just a whole other layer.”

Jeremiah Program is also planning to post the lessons to the website so educators and parents outside the program can access the resources.

Life-Skills Coaching 

Because community is at the heart of Jeremiah Program, the inability to visit face-to-face posed a major service-delivery challenge for the virtual coaches. Several residence-based staff commented that they were used to seeing moms and kids every day. Many of their check-ins were informal; they had multiple opportunities each week to notice if someone was having a hard time or seemed particularly anxious about an issue in their lives. With this pattern so disrupted, a direct one-to-one translation of weekly in-person coaching to weekly online coaching was not going to adequately meet families’ needs, especially during a time of massive upheaval across multiple stressor areas.  

Coaches are now checking in with moms up to three times a week—sometimes more. At a minimum, each session addresses concerns related to employment status, school responsibilities (including looking ahead to registering for the fall), or any parenting challenges mothers may be facing (including identifying basic needs they are lacking, like diapers and formula). For all moms, especially those who have experienced domestic abuse, mental health issues, or chemical dependency, these touchpoints are an opportunity to connect and assess for any critical needs or safety issues. Depending on the need, a coaching session may involve talking through an unemployment application, troubleshooting how to respond to a child’s behavior issue, arranging to see a doctor for a medication adjustment, or any other conversation the circumstances call for. 

“I try to listen more and talk less in these meetings,” says Amy Klein, family services manager for Jeremiah Program’s Fargo, North Dakota, campus. “I try and make sure to at least hit those three areas [parenting, employment, and education] and then let them take the lead. Because, really, this is about them, and what their needs are, what they need from me, what they need from us as an organization.” 

Empowerment

Empowerment is a 16-week program that all Jeremiah participants must complete before officially joining the program. The curriculum focuses on breaking negative thought patterns, building self-esteem, and empowering women to trust their inherent capabilities to make good choices for themselves and their families. Because women enter and exit the program continually, and because the Empowerment experience builds on itself, transitioning to a virtual model poses some unique challenges. 

More than 60 moms were in the middle of their Empowerment when Jeremiah Program was forced to pause the program across all sites. By mid-May, classes will begin again via e-learning. Under normal circumstances, the Empowerment journey is designed to support mothers during their adjustment period when they are most vulnerable. Now, all mothers—regardless of their time in the program—are experiencing an adjustment period, one that may seriously test the skills they’ve developed in the program. For the admissions staff and Empowerment volunteers, this means building flexibility into the prompts and protocols they rely on during virtual Empowerment sessions. It also means exploring possibilities for sharing the Empowerment curriculum beyond Jeremiah Program so more women can benefit.

“[We have] really been focused on ensuring all moms have the technology they need for e-learning and moving the experience to a virtual platform,” says JoMarie Morris, executive director of Jeremiah Program’s Rochester campus. “Empowerment will look different, but we are excited for the opportunity to try some new program elements along with our core curriculum.” 

Virtual Childhood Development Resources 

Rebecca Putzer and Crystal Ward co-lead Jeremiah Program’s Child Development Center task force, which sprang into action over the past few weeks to create a set of distance learning modules mothers can use to teach their children at home with support from JP teachers. Before the pandemic, the task force was already reimagining what early childhood education could look like across all Jeremiah campuses, work that has now been accelerated and refocused on establishing a “new normal” that is both equitable and high-quality. 

Tell us about each of your roles at Jeremiah Program. 

Crystal: I have started working with Jeremiah for the last couple of months as an education consultant. I’ve spent my career in education as a middle school teacher, as an elementary school founder, and then—for the last six years or so—I’ve done leadership development and new school design. The work that I’m leading with the Child Development Center (CDC) task force and all of the managers and directors is thinking about how we take what has been really a regional approach (we focus on our children and the inner workings of what’s happening in St. Paul, for example) and, instead, looking at [Jeremiah Program] as a small school district. We should be cascading efforts—taking all of the CDCs across the Jeremiah program and thinking about ways in which we can share best practices and knowledge as well as capacity across all of our different sites to ensure all children are getting top-quality materials and guidance from their teachers. Even before COVID, the goal of my work with the task force was to think about creating this network of schools, but also thinking about the vision for 2020 and beyond of how Jeremiah is going to re-imagine early childhood to be world-class in the nation. 

Rebecca: I’ve been at Jeremiah for about 13 and a half years and in my current role for about six as the director of coordinated family services. In that role, I work with our coaching teams that are working one-on-one with the moms and also our Child Development Centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I float between the two campuses: I have a firsthand account of what’s happening with our moms in terms of goals and challenges and things that they’re working on, and then also with our teachers and our center managers. Essentially, my role is to help Crystal on the ground with our early childhood programming, as well as the collaboration across Jeremiah’s other components. As a holistic program, what we can do in partnership with our moms and children? How do we leverage all the talent and resources we have across all of our campuses for the betterment of all Jeremiah families?

How was the first round of virtual learning modules created? 

Crystal: It was really quick actually. Rebecca had a huge hand in polishing those off and making sure that they looked really clean for our families. We used that as our initial template that we’re now revising to give to teachers to then do planning over the course of the next 10 weeks or so so that kids have resources through the end of June.

In terms of planning, we asked, “What are we hearing from our moms? What is a good thing for us to provide to ensure that our kids have something and that they’re hearing from their teachers as well?”

We decided on two major things. One is that teachers are going to check in with their students weekly and hone that connection so that families can ask teachers any questions they might need to ask about some of the content. The second was that we wanted to provide developmentally appropriate materials to children from zero to five. We have different age bands with appropriate age-level activities: for our infants, there are sensory activities, and then for our oldest preschoolers, there’s writing.

For our first week, we honed the expertise of all of our managers and some of the teachers to come up with what would be good for kids to do each week. We also understood that this is a really tough time; families may use these resources, or they may feel like, “I’ve got this under control. We have a rhythm,” versus other moms who are on the spectrum of saying, “I need restructure, I need help.” We wanted to be able to hit a note across the board of where people are at and the needs they have.

Their interactions with school should be roughly 45 minutes. I’m just giving general guidance so that our teachers can take our initial plans and run with them. We’re doing a sprint over the next three to four weeks to have two months of plans completed. We’ll share them across all Jeremiah regions, including the nonresidential sites in Boston and New York City.

We’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback so far. We’re going to start learning how families are feeling about them here shortly. We’re releasing weekly, but we’re planning in, in two-week chunks. This week, two regions are planning for the next two weeks, so we’re not doing it on a week-by-week basis. We want to accelerate it so that we can get the plans out of the way and start utilizing our teachers and the visioning for what Jeremiah Program will be in the future.

Rebecca: It has been a sprint, as Crystal said. One guiding piece: We did use the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, which helped us nail down and solidify our highest priority development areas for each age group. Our intention was to help build parent awareness surrounding all of the learning happening already with their children each and every day.  A lot of it is appropriate expectations for early childhood education because much of the day in early childhood classrooms includes free play and social-emotional [learning]. We are attempting to get our parents information and support to alleviate additional stress or unrealistic expectations. You don’t have to sit with your child for eight hours a day and do structured activities. That’s not what it’s about. And that’s not what early childhood education looks like in the classroom either. It’s just bridging the home and classroom life for children. Luckily, at Jeremiah, we’ve been doing that all along for our families, even pre-COVID, as part of our wrap-around services and two-generation model. This is just a whole other layer. 

Crystal: We’ve also been thoughtful about what families already have at the ready for kids, so the activities are stuff like fill the bathtub and throw toys in there, right? And like do things like that with our youngest kids. Because of the additional layer of support of having moms at residences, we know what resources they have. Like everybody has a tub, for example. Everybody can go downstairs and get materials from the CDC to do construction or cutting or mixing of different dyes and things like that. Except for the small population of community families, we’re able to ensure that they have the resources that they need.

What is the plan for incorporating feedback?

Crystal: We have a plan to send out a survey, but also ask our teachers, “How’s it going?” Each week, teachers are going to send a roll-up to their managers and directors of what’s happening with each child and the requests from moms. We understood that this has had to happen very quickly. As a designer, it’s counter to what I know is good practice: to not involve the end user in our design. We would have loved to have moms on the task force initially to help us design these things, but with COVID and the crisis and the pandemic, that additional ask of them was something that we were trying to tread lightly on. What we really want our moms to do is just tell us, “What do you need?” A lot of them are in survival mode, and so asking them to spend two hours a week helping us felt insensitive.

And so instead, what we plan to do is ask moms, “We’re going to start designing what the future of early childhood looks like. For those of you that have the capacity and are interested, we want you to join our design teams.” And if they can’t join, what we’re going to do is provide small touchpoints for them to be able to give feedback along the way so that it’s truly informed by our families and not just from the brains of people who aren’t living and breathing the experience of our moms and kids.

Are you exclusively sharing these modules with Jeremiah Program moms or are you releasing them to a wider audience?

Crystal: We’ve already started sharing them with people who are asking. A couple of my friends have young children, but their daycares are not providing anything, and I’ve shared the plans with them and they’re really excited about it. Initial feedback is really strong. I think it would be something for us to think about how we might even be able to put this on our website and have people come access the resources because, at this point, it’s really about everybody. Teachers are always open to share their resources, and as a community of practice, we really want to be open. I think that’s something that we could discuss. There could be a plan to share it in a more formalized way. 

How did you approach blending academics with social-emotional learning? 

Rebecca: Going forward, each week we’ll have a theme to help us not duplicate the same stuff and also keeps children engaged. But the social-emotional part is really challenging, and one attempt at helping is a parent guide that we are creating. It will hopefully help with support related to, “How do you talk to your children about what’s happening now?” This stuff isn’t necessarily written into early childhood education materials, but it’s situational and it’s happening now. Questions would also be happening if children were in classrooms as teachers are talking about current events and teaching children about the things that are happening around them. So, a lot of the social-emotional content is going to come through in the packet of materials as questions parents or caregivers could be asking their children, different things they could try to talk about in terms of topics. Mostly encouraging a dialogue with their children and being open to questions, talking through feelings, and acknowledging that this is a tough time for many people. 

Once we launch the teacher check-ins with children and families, that will hopefully also help. Relationships are a large part of learning. The hope is that teachers will eventually be able to do small group time so that classmates will be able to interact with each other virtually. We’re going to have to get creative in many ways because a lot of the social-emotional pieces and learning moments just happen naturally, in terms of initiating play and figuring out the world around you. Our parents and caregivers are going to take the lead in this area as they interact with their children, but our teachers will be there to help along the way as well.

I guess the short answer to that questions is that we don’t have one complete solution for social-emotional development at this time, other than we recognize that it is vital in early childhood education. We haven’t done virtual learning programming until now and are still a work in progress. I’m confident that we will get our families high quality, well-rounded programming.

Crystal: With the other task forces [have] real lines of sight into how to support moms in their own emotions and wellbeing so that they can then support kids. One of the things that I know the coaches have been talking about is just general supports for them. They’re communicating, cascading back communication to us about how we might help alleviate some of the tension points that moms are feeling. Even though this is a stark and strong move away from what normal probably feels like for a lot of our families, I think we do come from the vein of feeling as though families are not only just partners, but they’re their child’s number one teacher. The idea that our teachers are there as support to our families is indicative of the type of partnership that Jeremiah wants to have with families. It’s really about just knowing the kids individually. A lot of our teachers are super excited to be checking in with families and checking in with kids, but they’re also tailoring what these [modules] to specific children. When our teachers get ahold of them, I think we’re going to see a lot of innovations and really thoughtful additions to what they’re going to provide for kids.

How is Jeremiah Program making sure participants have the right technology to be able to participate in the virtual programs?

Crystal: Chastity’s been a real front-runner on this. She has talked about not seeing this pandemic and the situation we’re in as incremental shifts, but thinking about it as changing the game and how we literally operate and the things that we provide. So Chastity is not trying to look at the end of when shelter-in-place is lifted. She’s saying, “What does this mean for changing the scope of what we do altogether?” Because COVID is going to change what we do, how we interact, what’s acceptable. The normal that we knew is not going to be the normal we walk back into, and technology is a huge piece of that.

They’ve been able to secure 50 Lenovo laptops from Rasmussen College. What we did early on was send out a survey to all the teachers to ask what their technology needs are, including whether or not they had reliable WIFI, as well as access to some type of device that has a camera and a microphone and the ability to type so that they could plan. We have already distributed a number of laptops and are going to get to WIFI hotspots to our teachers. The next step in the process is for us to take the extra computers and distribute them to our families so that everybody—teacher, family, and staff—are connected 

Chastity had the foresight to say, “How do we get our hands on some technology early ?” and she was able to get a lot of those resources. We have an abundance right now because most people have it at home, luckily. But for the folks that didn’t, we were able to send that out to them very quickly. 

How do you see these modules and this modality being part of Jeremiah Program after the pandemic passes?

Crystal: I believe that where we’re headed is actually a more holistic, whole-child approach of what distance and virtual learning could look like. The resources are an immediate fix. It’s something that we can tangibly give to families, but I’m really excited about the promise of thinking about: If we can never go back to a CDC as we know it, what does this mean? What does this mean for how we interface as an organization with our families? The idea of getting into the headspace of: How might we think about the future of early childhood not being confined to the four walls of a child development center? How might we utilize technology to increase alignment and learning between families and our school? How might we see children and their individual interests as the guiding principles for the things that we use in our classrooms and amongst all of the JP regions? 

The work of innovation and the work of redesign requires us to leave behind a mindset that we already know. The exercise of having to think a new and thinking of something that hasn’t been done yet is going to take some time. It’s also going to take some inspiration for folks to feel that there is a new normal that we can design. And there’s a lot of benefit in doing so because we understand that schools are inequitable. They have been for hundreds of years. And if we have the opportunity to redesign, why not redesign with the idea that we have the opportunity to give our children the very best? It’s no longer about a geographical zip code. It’s no longer about a subset of teachers in that region. Everything that we can imagine we can actually make possible with the advent of this idea that we no longer have to operate school in the way that we’ve always known it.

Jeremiah Program Is No Stranger to Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to harness the creativity and innovation that drive our community.

Chastity Lord

This is a shape-shifting moment within our country. As a leader, a mother, and a citizen, this past month has been simultaneously frightening, frustrating, and inspiring. Each day, we move through those emotions and acknowledge that the world has become unrecognizable—but we can’t remain still for too long. We must begin to shape the contours of our new world and ask, “What opportunities does this present? What can we do to reduce the poverty tax on moms and families?”

In the U.S., people of all socioeconomic levels have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic isn’t a great equalizer—far from it. Folks who were experiencing poverty before the pandemic are now experiencing it at a deeper level. Women experiencing poverty will have more difficulty gaining or regaining stability once the daily restrictions are lifted. 

For the mothers of Jeremiah Program, the pandemic has upended almost every aspect of life. The part-time jobs that used to fill the gaps in their budgets no longer exist. The public transportation routes they accessed have been drastically reduced or cut. In every city where we partner with communities, public schools have gone virtual. Mothers are trying to keep up their own studies while simultaneously caring for their children. Our childcare centers used to provide breakfast and lunch; many families are now responsible for every meal, requiring additional groceries at a time when shopping is a logistical and emotional nightmare. 

Many of our moms feel like they were finally gaining momentum, only to have everything they were working for come to a halt. But they’re facing this moment with the grit and resiliency that their journeys have demanded. They’ve been through hard times before. 

Although these challenges are unprecedented, our response as an organization is firmly anchored in our core values. Our leadership is committed to making sure all of our families are safe. No one will lose housing. No one will go hungry. All of our staff will be leveraged and utilized. We will continue to remind our mothers of their power, their resilience, and that they are still experts within their lives.

On a day-to-day basis, this means our staff assessing urgent needs and determining how we can respond to them in scalable ways. It means putting together structures and systems that allow us to be responsive. It means ensuring that our moms get groceries, get diapers, get cleaning supplies and baby wipes. It means keeping the lines of communication open so our families know that we’re here to advocate for them. 

We’re leaning into our mission, and we’re also pivoting to the future. Right now, we have committees working on new digital programming that will deliver Empowerment, family coaching, and supplemental early childhood development programming through hybrid learning models. Everything we’re putting in place is responding to the moment and investing in the future of Jeremiah. When we move out of the COVID crisis, these new hybrid learning models and virtual resources will remain, better serving Jeremiah Program moms and expanding our services to new families. 

Due to the uncertainty of this moment, it benefits our moms tremendously to be able to attend counseling sessions virtually and engage with JP programming after their kids go to sleep. The pandemic has allowed us the opportunity to explore these modalities and build on what we’ve been doing. The new virtual programming will allow us to respond to moms in a more authentic, holistic way while lowering the cost per family engagement.

Jeremiah Program is no stranger to crises or challenges. We understand the urgency of now, but we also understand the need to be disciplined and strategic—because the effects of this pandemic will be far-reaching. More pockets of poverty are being created in our country than has been seen in our lifetimes. We’re taking everything we’ve learned about disrupting generational poverty over the last two decades and making sure the structures we put in place equip us to support more moms and more kids quickly.

We aren’t just treading water in this moment: We are identifying opportunities and making investments that will allow the organization, and our moms, to emerge more powerful than ever. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant.” 

Our moms will thrive. Our kids will thrive. Our communities will thrive. And, yes, JP will thrive. 

Congratulations to our JP families and team! 2019 was a year filled with success

Congratulations to our JP families and team! 2019 was a year filled with success

Jeremiah Program mothers and their children just completed another terrific year. At Jeremiah Program, we work to fulfill the promise of a world where single mothers and their children prosper. The vast majority of our single mother participants are between the ages of 18-25, and 78% are from communities of color. With the help of our volunteers, community partners, and supporters, we’re making great progress.

2019 Jeremiah Program National Achievements

Remember Us on Giving Hearts Day

 

 

Remember Us on Giving Hearts Day

Thursday, February 13, 2020

 

Giving Hearts Day is a 24-hour giving event for more than 470 charities across North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. This is our second-largest fundraising event of the year, and we’re counting on your support to make it a success!  When you choose to donate to Jeremiah Program Fargo Moorhead, you are supporting our mission to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two-generations at a time.  Schedule your gift now at https://app.givingheartsday.org/#/charity/67 and remind others to donate by using the hashtag #CountMe.

You’re invited to join us in person or on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JeremiahProgramFargoMoorhead throughout the day.

9:00 am-6:00 pm            Special Facebook Challenges Featuring Jeremiah Program Staff

10:00 am-12:00 pm        Facility Tours

12:00 pm-1:00 pm          Brown Bag Lunch Featuring Program Participants

1:00 pm-3:00 pm            Facility Tours

3:30 pm-6:00 pm            Kids’ Carnival Hosted by our Child Development Center

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR 2020 GIVING HEARTS DAY MATCH DONORS:

Tech Guru

Bell Bank Pay It Forward – Taylor Schnitzler

Moorhead Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star

Ashley and Matt Halvorson

Marilynn Pribula

Thorson Steffes

Tito’s Vodka

Maxwells

Thrivent Financial – Paul Aslakson

Lonnie and Jeff Pederson

Shortprinter 

Announcing New Jeremiah Program President and CEO

Chastity Lord takes the helm in mid-September.

Today, Jeremiah Program announced Chastity Lord as its next President and CEO. Lord is a dynamic leader who has dedicated her career to disrupting systems of inequity through a social justice lens. Currently Chief Operating Officer at Color Of Change, a national social justice organization, Lord brings a unique blend of practitioner and national leadership experience to her new role. Her official start is mid-September, and Lord has already begun working with the board transition committee to outline key strategic priorities. She will replace Gloria Perez, who has successfully led the organization for two decades.

“We are energized by this forward movement,” said John Potter, Jeremiah Program Governing Board Chair. “After nearly a year of sustained progress on our strategic plan and an engaged search effort, we are excited that Chastity Lord will join us bringing the experience and attributes of a transformational leader that we were seeking.”

Lord has extensive experience and success in nonprofit leadership, including her role as Regional Vice President at The Posse Foundation where she played a critical role in Posse doubling its national footprint and oversaw the program codification and fundraising of sites in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and DC.

The timing of this transition compliments Lord’s deep experience scaling organizations similar to Jeremiah Program, which began with a Minneapolis residential campus in 1998 and has expanded to seven sites in five states including nonresidential models.

As a leader in two-generation programming aimed at disrupting generational poverty for single mothers and their children, Jeremiah allows Lord to continue dedicating her career to disrupting systems of inequity through a social justice lens.

“Jeremiah resonated with me on a deeply personal level, as a first-generation college graduate who grew up poor with a single mom and a lot of housing instability,” said Lord. “Education was the lever that disrupted my own family’s cycle of generational poverty.”

“Because of its successful model, Jeremiah is in a unique position to frame a national conversation about the investments required to disrupt cycles of generational poverty, while simultaneously illuminating what systems and structures lead to it,” said Lord.

One immediate goal is to increase Jeremiah’s visibility and voice.

“One of my key priorities is to ensure that anyone who is committed to disrupting cycles of poverty and dismantling the systems and structures that lead to it, know the work of Jeremiah Program,” Lord said. “I want them to know who we are, what we are about, and about our twenty plus years of impact. We will have to broaden our tent of supporters and champions as Jeremiah Program seeks to demonstrate transformative impact at a larger scale.”

Moving 2Gen Strategy Forward Across the Country

Jeremiah Program President and CEO, Gloria Perez, was invited to Maryland to mentor leaders interested in starting or expanding a 2Gen strategy for helping families succeed.

The two-day peer-learning site visit takes place at Garrett County Community Action Committee in Oakland, MA. Garrett County Community Action has become an all-in 2Gen organization, putting families in the center of its work. Along with learning from Garrett County, practitioners will work with mentors to create action plans to start or improve their 2Gen programs.

Perez’ first day working with her group highlighted coaching 2Gen families in crisis.

“My premise was that part of what happens in a crisis is that people disconnect from their own power; they begin to feel like victims,” Perez said. “It is our job as coaching professionals to help individuals change their mindset and reconnect to their core value- they are important, valuable, capable human beings. We can help people in a crisis reconnect to their personal power which will give them insight into how to solve their own problems. De-escalation and reframing are key steps when dealing with people in crisis.”

This 2GenACT site visit is being coordinated by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, in collaboration with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

Innovating and Evaluating with 2Gen Model

Evaluation of the newest Jeremiah model reveals opportunities

Hoping to take the success of Jeremiah Program to new levels and additional communities, a strategic vision was set to expand with an additional model – nonresidential programming. The model began in Boston and has expanded to New York. A November 2018 study revealed opportunities for the new model, opportunities Jeremiah has vowed to pursue.

“The key parts of the study tell us we have an expandable healthy model but we need to be aware of the pitfalls and find sustainable solutions,” said Gloria Perez, Jeremiah Program CEO.

While housing is one of the five pillars of the Jeremiah Program, the high cost of land for housing in communities with a dire need for the poverty-busting model made residential campuses impractical. So Jeremiah developed a model to collaborate with like-minded groups to serve young single mothers who wanted to pursue postsecondary education. In Boston that led to a partnership with Endicott College.

“Our biggest benefit in this model is the ability to scale and expand more quickly and serve many, many more mothers and their children,” Perez said. “The biggest challenge is not having that secure campus – housing that is safe and conducive to weekly training schedules.”

A step toward meeting the housing challenge in Boston includes the recently established Warren House.

“At Warren we have space for families to gather,” said Perez. “A study place for moms, a place to have empowerment classes and just an opportunity for camaraderie.”

Jeremiah’s strategic plan for the next five years focuses on expansion among other goals. The nonresidential model will play a role in the aggressive 170 percent increase in enrolled moms Jeremiah has targeted by 2023.

Adjusting the model to integrate more partnerships is a step closer to advancing the adapted model, taking advantage of community bandwidth and historic success.

“Boston has shown us that this model has the flexibility to meet families where they are,” said Perez. “Helping moms build social capital and bolster aspirations.”

The study was conducted by the Program Evaluation and Research Group at Endicott College and funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Read the full study Endicott Boston Study or a recent Blog about the study here.

Caryn Sullivan Interviews CEO Gloria Perez

Pioneer Press columnist, inspirational speaker and author Caryn Sullivan recently wrote about her conversation with Jeremiah Program CEO Gloria Perez. Here is an excerpt:

For Perez it’s gratifying to watch women rise above their insecurities, recognize they have a choice, and shape a different kind of future for themselves and their children.

As she will at a Team Women luncheon on Wednesday, Perez shares her philosophy about mentoring with Jeremiah mothers. Its value, she says, lies in the accountability an objective partner can offer. A mentor can help the mentee to walk through fear, engage in reflection, and accelerate goals.

Perez prides herself on establishing a bridge between donors and beneficiaries by offering insight and perspective. She helps the women to shift their belief system, explaining that their lot in life isn’t attributed to worth or luck and that, with support and effort, it can change.

Read the entire interview here at the Pioneer Press

Jeremiah Program Search for Chief Executive Officer

Jeremiah Program is seeking a visionary national leader as their next Chief Executive Officer. This is an incredible leadership opportunity to leverage this innovative and proven two-generation model and drive national growth. This high-profile Chief Executive Officer, working collaboratively with the National Governing Board of Directors, has overall responsibility for leadership and management of Jeremiah Program, a thriving 501c3 based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The CEO ensures the programming, operations, fundraising, marketing, human resources, technology, and fiscal activities are effectively implemented across the organization and consistent with the mission of Jeremiah Program. As the visible spokesperson for this growing national organization, the CEO is responsible for interpreting the vision, mission and programs to the National and Community Boards, staff, strategic partners and the greater public.

The ideal CEO will be an inspirational and visionary leader who will actively lead Jeremiah Program through continued expansion and change management. As the primary external face of the organization, the CEO will lead with passion and authenticity to promote the vision of Jeremiah Program in order to build trust with key external stakeholders and donors. The successful candidate will have the ability to motivate and inspire others. The new CEO will be highly relational, with proven ability to lead a complex, multi-site national organization or related.

For more information or to submit your credentials, email info@cohentaylor.com.

All inquiries will remain confidential.

Please find the Position Profile CEO Jeremiah.