The mission of Congregations for Children (C4C) is to support public education in North Carolina by partnering local congregations with neighboring public elementary schools, focusing on four main goals to undergird our lower-income children and their families: (1) promote K-3 literacy; (2) provide basic needs such as food, clothing, and school supplies; (3) supply caring adult volunteers to schools as reading buddies, tutors, and school helpers; and (4) advocate for fully funded and adequately supported public schools throughout the state. The fourth goal is the focus of United Methodist Advocates for Public Schools (UMAPS), a NCCUMC social justice organization that now partners directly with C4C.
The past year has been defined by the word “pivot.” As in-person church and public school activities ground to a sudden halt in 2020, churches and schools had to adapt quickly to life within a pandemic. As distance learning became necessary, and the reality of widely inconsistent access to the internet by many low-income and rural students became evident, C4C offered Community Connectivity Grants to encourage innovative ways for churches to support online instruction for all children. In just two months, eleven churches and two NCCUMC organizations that work directly with public school children received almost $10,000 to enhance during- and after-school programs that provide safe and supportive learning spaces equipped with sufficient internet access.
Churches throughout the conference found creative ways to continue to promote K-3 literacy through book drives so children had books of their own at home to read, and many reading buddies continued to read to children on the phone or via FaceTime. Churches continued to supply essential food for children and their families through food deliveries to common pickup locations and even home deliveries. One church in Alamance County even raised funds to purchase a food truck for their school system to deliver hot meals to children at their homes!
All NCCUMC clergy and laity are encouraged to go to our redesigned C4C website to learn more about C4C and UMAPS and to find ways to initiate or expand public school partnerships within the lay ministries of your local church.