Thanksgiving Inspires “Spirit of Giving” in Elev8 Communities

Elev8 kids participating in ThanksgivingThis Thanksgiving, Elev8 schools pulled together to provide much-needed food for local families. In Chicago, Perspectives Middle School collected approximately 500 cans of nonperishable food items to give away in the surrounding Auburn Gresham community. Students and staff also consulted with the school social worker to identify three families who would each receive a turkey and full Thanksgiving food basket.

In New Mexico, Elev8 staff at Grant Middle School worked hard to secure donations from a variety of sources, including a local Church, an insurance company, an auto painting company and local car dealerships. With help from these donors, the Elev8 team was able to provide Thanksgiving baskets, complete with turkeys, to 30 families. Parent volunteers assisted with the distribution process.

Wilson Middle School, also in New Mexico, was able to support an incredible 55 families with full meals that included a 20-pound turkey and all the traditional sides, as well as some "extras," such as beans, pasta and rice. According to Janyce Cardenas, Elev8 site coordinator, the project exemplified what community schools can accomplish: "It was really a strong collaboration involving the entire community." Local organizations made substantial donations. Teachers brought in pies, and students-broken down by grade-brought in side dishes. The Thanksgiving drive was successful enough that Elev8 was able to save some of the nonperishable food for the future. "We had the opportunity to stock up the food pantry in the Family Resource Center," said Cardenas, "which will be used to support families in need all year round."

For struggling families, this kind of help is critical to ensuring that children do not go hungry. Beyond providing food directly, Elev8 has been a strong advocate for federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.

The USDA and the Census Bureau estimate that there are 49 million people living in food-insecure households across the country. Programs like SNAP reduce hunger and help hardworking families make ends meet. According to the Food Research and Action Center, SNAP lifted 4.6 million Americans above the poverty line in 2009, including 2.1 million children and 200,000 seniors. Elev8 strongly opposes proposed cuts to SNAP and other critical nutrition programs that are included in the current reauthorization of the Farm Bill in both the US House of Representatives (with cuts of $16 billion over 10 years) and the US Senate (with cuts of $4.49 billion over 10 years). For more information about the Farm Bill, see:

On average, students’ GPAs drop a full letter grade between eighth and ninth grades. Students who experience this decline in GPA are by no means doomed to failure, especially if they live in neighborhoods where they can access support services. However, for students who are already struggling and lack access to help (a common scenario in low-income neighborhoods), a decline in grades during this transition makes it even harder to get on track toward graduation.
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