Committed to eliminating poverty’s root causes, Neighborhood Outreach Connection (NOC) harnesses the energy of families, schools, libraries, health providers, and other non-profits to break the pattern of generational poverty, one neighborhood at a time.
NOC brings educational programs, technology and health screenings to people with limited pathways to academic and economic success. NOC Program Centers, located in low-income, public housing neighborhoods in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, are within walking distance to homes and are renovated by local residents to accommodate classrooms and Virtual Learning Centers equipped with computers and internet access.
NOC’s flagship educational program includes one-on-one afterschool tutoring and a summer program for students in kindergarten through 8th grade, and preschool classes for prekindergarten age children. Believing a small scope of operations results in optimum student performance, NOC works with 100-125 children at each center. Students in the afterschool program spend 4 days per week, 1½ hours a day focused on homework and tutoring. In the summer program, children spend 4 days per week, 2 hours a day reinforcing Math & Language Arts skills, ensuring that they do not lose proficiency over the summer. Local schools refer students who are struggling academically and teachers to tutor the children.
In partnership with the Beaufort County School District (BCSD), Beaufort County Library, and the Sandbox Museum of Hilton Head Island (HHI), a pilot preschool program enrolled was recently initiated. Following SC learning standards, preschool classes focus on logical thinking, language, shapes, colors and numbers.
Adult education classes, in partnership with Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, are offered at the program centers in the early evening, allowing adults to attend after work and get home in time for dinner. Subjects include Basic English (focusing on workplace communication), Public Safety, Budgets and Personal Finance.
NOC promotes the health of local residents with regular visits from the hospital’s Mobile Unit, Volunteers in Medicine (HHI’s Free Clinic & flagship model for 92 clinics nationwide), and the Lions Club. Health screenings focus on identifying residents with hypertension, diabetes, HIVAIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and dental needs, and referring them for needed services. NOC has also sponsored playgrounds and a soccer field, providing materials and capital, while residents donate time and labor.
In partnership with local schools and using their curricula and testing tools, the NOC Program Centers provide an effective platform to help students strengthen Math and Language Arts skills. Teachers provide tutoring services and homework support, and parents and families are engaged in their children’s learning process, fostering a supportive home and community environment for academic excellence. Each parent or guardian signs a contract, agreeing to be actively involved in their child’s learning. At orientation workshops, parents discuss challenges and obtain tools to help motivate children. Parents also meet at mid-term and program ending to discuss progress and learn strategies to foster and maintain their child’s skills.
NOC has worked together with the local school system to evaluate the results of its academic programs. Testing by Beaufort County School District (BCSD) in 2012 and 2013 shows that students who participate in NOC’s summer programs do better, on average, than students who participate in the BCSD summer program.
- In 2012, NOC summer school students scored an average of 56.7% in Reading versus 43.7% for non-NOC students, and 51.1% in Math versus 48.1% for non-NOC students.
- Fall to Spring results showed that NOC students consistently scored higher than the average for the BCSD in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).
- NOC students’ MAP averages exceed the national average in Reading for Kindergarten and grade 4, and in Math for Kindergarten, grade 2, and grade 3. NOC is currently working with BCSD to develop tools to evaluate its preschool program.
In addition to academic success among students, NOC’s presence in a community has been shown to contribute to a diminishing crime rate. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office reported 82 offenses in one of NOC’s target communities in 2009, dropping by nearly one-third to 55 offenses in 2012.
NOC’s bottom-up approach focuses on development of the individual, the family, and the community through small, low-cost neighborhood projects that can be replicated and are sustainable.
Maintenance costs are controlled by renting or purchasing small apartment units and using community volunteers to renovate and maintain the units. Ongoing labor costs are low, with local teachers contracted for tutoring and many services provided by volunteers. NOC maintains its focus on education and does not support large-scale sports activities, although it helps communities bring in playgrounds and sports fields.
NOC also plays an important role as a “connector” by bringing human service providers to deliver assistance more directly and effectively into low-income neighborhoods.
Your partnering investment in NOC’s mission will allow replication of this successful model in other low-income communities.