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“Back to School!”

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Gregory Kepferle, CEO
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

“Back to School!” Even though I am no longer a formal student or a teacher, that brief phrase still triggers butterflies in my stomach, both of anxiety and excitement. Am I prepared for the classes? Who will be in the class with me? Will I like the teacher and my classmates? Will the class be too hard or too easy? Will I pass?

Those feelings of anticipation, both positive and negative, are not unusual for the new kindergarten student or first grader, whether they are from a rich, poor or middle class family. But they take on an added urgency for immigrant and refugee students who are just learning English or are way behind in their studies because of disruption from fleeing war and violence, living in camps, or just struggling to survive. There is a similar urgency for youth who have once dropped out of school and have joined a gang or been incarcerated and are trying to get their lives back together.

At Catholic Charities, it is precisely these struggling students who we believe have the potential to thrive when given the attention, the support, and the tools. Each year we serve more than 3,000 children and youth through early childhood development, after-school literacy, STEM and enrichment, refugee foster care, and youth empowerment programs for older youth to re-engage them with school. We can see the results: school readiness improves, literacy scores increase, youth go back to school, and refugee youth get accepted into college. Thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers and strong community partners, we know that through education, Catholic Charities makes a difference in preventing the cycle of generational poverty from repeating.

I invite those interested going “back to school” with Catholic Charities to visit our First Five Family Resource Centers, our CORAL after-school sites, our Washington United Youth Center, and our Refugee Foster Care programs. Volunteer and donate and change a life for good.

Visit www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org for more information.