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ST. MARK COMMUNITY CENTER
ST. MARK COMMUNITY CENTER. In 1988, St. Mark Community Center was formed by community leaders using the former SAINT MARK LUTHERAN CHURCH. It was found there was a need that was not being met to:
• assist with youth academics;
• provide children with a safe place that has caring, adult supervision;
• meet the needs of the whole family;
• make sure these services were affordable.
Many children from Prescott, Audubon, Fulton, Marshall, Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Roosevelt schools were from homes with twice the poverty rate, twice the rate of single parenthood, and made up 50% of the high school drop-outs and 50% of the students referred to Juvenile Services. Prescott, Audubon, Fulton, Lincoln and Marshall fell into these categories. Most of these students were 1-2 years behind academically and 30% - 55% of the students at Audubon and Fulton schools showed they were at low proficiency in reading and math basic skills test scores. Children from Prescott (K-2nd) do not take the ITBS, but other evaluations showed 69% of first graders were reading below their grade level. Studies showed that once students began performing at a low academic rate, they rarely caught up with their peers. To reverse the trend of low academics, the schools were in need of additional out-of-school time instructional assistance. When they succeeded academically, the behavior issues in school also lessened.
Soon after the Center opened, substantial improvements were made to the interior of the building. These improvements were made possible by community support totaling nearly $400,000.
In response to the identified needs, St. Mark Community Center, with the funding assistance of state and federal grants, started the Kids Connection and THINK Together initiatives. Programs were free to families.
The strategies focused on:
- Reading, math and science
- Homework assistance
- Mentoring programs
- Behavioral modification
Strategy areas are carried out in before and after-school sessions held at six sites: Prescott, Audubon, Fulton, Marshall, Lincoln and COMISKEY PARK for students of Jefferson, Washington and Roosevelt).
In June 1994 the Center received the Friend of Education Award from the DUBUQUE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION. (1)
In July 1997 the Center began a new program, Apples for Students. The project was aimed at reducing the financial pressure on parents to purchase back-to-school supplies. Community members were asked to purchase the supplies for those in need. Interested people could pick up a bag listing the sex, grade level, and school supply list for a student at either a parochial or public school. Once the purchases were made, the bag could be returned to a booth at KENNEDY MALL or the Center. (2)
In 2010 the Center served over 250 children daily. In the preceding school year there were over 70 children on waiting list that were not able to participate due to lack of funding.
The vision of St. Mark Community Center is to enhance the academic and social development of children in order that they may reach their potential and become productive citizens of society. With the help of certified teachers and paraprofessionals in its after school programs, the Center documented student improvement in grades and basic skills test scores. Over a two-year period, among the students enrolled in the St. Mark Community Center after-school program, 52% improved in math and 61% improved in reading. Homework completion rates also dramatically improved.
Teachers and volunteer mentors role model and teach appropriate social behavior. They mainly focus on respect for authority, self and others; positive family dynamics, substance abuse prevention and acceptance of different cultures. As a result of this focus, teachers have seen better behavior in class and there are less office referrals to the principal.
From 2010 to 2013 the cost of programming was expected to range from $90,929 to $195,332 annually. In 2010 to cost about $150 a day to run the before school programs, $831 a day to run the after-school programs, and $650 a day to run the summer school program. After-school sites have a certified teacher and two paraprofessionals to assist with academics. Summer school, held at St. Mark Community Center, meets five days a week for six weeks.
St. Mark Community Center developed a coordinated strategy and plan of funding. The plan included:
• St. Mark Community Center fundraisers
• Governmental programs (state supplemental education services, DHS)
• Business Partner Campaign
• Sustaining Individuals
St. Mark materials
1. Krapfl, Mike. "Tutoring Leads to Award," Telegraph Herald, June 4, 1994, p. 3A
2. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Program Provides School Supplies for Area Kids," Telegraph Herald, July 28, p. 3A. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19970728&printsec=frontpage&hl=en