Poverty creates isolation. The cure? A community collaboration to create resources and support systems for residents to break free and work toward a better life.
That’s the Northwest Project.
The first year focused on learning what families in the Grant Beach neighborhood needed and how to shape a program that works for them. Now in its second year of grant funding from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the initiative is expanding.
Based at The Fairbanks, a community resource center in Grant Beach renovated by the Drew Lewis Foundation, the Northwest Project has moved into three more neighborhoods: Robberson, Woodland Heights and Heart of the Westside.
“In year two, we want to look at how we could build a model that we can eventually step out of and the programming continues,” said Amy Blansit, project manager, director of the Drew Lewis Foundation and instructor of kinesiology at Missouri State University. “So how do we create sustainability? If we identify that we can’t create sustainability, then how do we look at serving our families and the city so that we have a good succession plan?”
The Northwest Project will continue to eliminate the stigma of poverty, according to Blansit.
“It’s not a choice. It’s not lazy individuals,” Blansit said. “But it’s individuals who were given different circumstances or a lack of foundation to build their lives.”
A big need
Currently the Northwest Project offers no structured programming for children and youth. Blansit wants to engage universities, education departments and church groups to assist.
“The curriculum is there, we just don’t have the staff necessary to run it,” Blansit said. “This project is going to take a lot of individuals from the community to make it happen.”
About the project
The Northwest Project, a partnership led by MSU, the Drew Lewis Foundation and Drury University, helps people in poverty by using intensive case management along with prevention programming.
These include budgeting assistance, parenting classes, job search resources and more.
One individual who has benefited from this project is Monica.
She said going through the program taught her about budgeting, finances, goal setting, people skills and how to be a better parent.
“I had goals for what my life could be before, but now I have hope knowing those goals are possible,” Monica said.
For her, the most valuable part of the program was connecting with community members.
“I was given a network of allies and friendships with all kinds of people where we can be ourselves and learn in a safe haven,” she said.
For more information, contact Blansit at 417-836-5209.