Vision Connection: Lifetime Learning

Academic Enrichment Program (AEP) K-12 –School Year

The Academic Enrichment Program (AEP) identifies and narrows learning gaps in 110 students by offering each child 720 hours of year-round support addressing their relational, academic, spiritual, social, and physical needs in a safe environment. Standardized testing upon entrance and at year-end as well as access to students’ academic reports allow for individualized education plans. Students enjoy enrichment activities including financial fitness and art, field trips, healthy foods, and transportation to and from AEP.  AEP facilitates partnerships with parents, teachers, classroom leaders, community organizations and volunteers. In 2015 ten kindergarten through grade eight classrooms, including an individual tutoring room for kids most at-risk of failing, were served.

A separate AEP program for high school ages also occurs on school-day afternoons and provides homework help, leadership opportunities, and Science – Technology – Engineering & Math enrichments.

The after-school program is led by volunteers and paid, part-time staff  at no charge to the student. Parents participate through service hours, entrance and exit interviews, semester celebrations, and individual mentoring. The 2015 program was delivered by a full-time education director (Gr K-8), full time young adult director (grades 9-age 22), full-time volunteer coordinator, ten part-time classroom leaders, and 317 volunteers.


All students are provided access to technology to complete homework assignments and to increase digital competency. Keyboard skills are part of the curriculum. AEP provides filled backpacks and two new sets of school uniforms (Grades K-8).


Proven Impact:

For the past nine years, 98% of students enrolled in AEP have progressed to the next grade level. Standardized assessments reveal students attending 80% of the year have increased their reading grade levels by .9 on average and their math levels by 1.3 on average. We also monitor student GPA, homework completion, and attendance. Students identified at a high risk of failing receive one-on-one tutoring in a separate classroom in their needed subject areas.


Academic Enrichment Program (AEP) Summer-Bridge Camp

Summer-Bridge Camp is our after-school program on steroids for eight weeks. Students in Kindergarten to grade eight experience one-half day of academics and one-half day of extracurricular activities. Without the daily time commitment of school-year homework, students can make bigger advances in narrowing their achievement gap. This is the time of year when academics are really fun through the use of the Lit-Art Curriculum, manipulatives, and lots of Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) lessons. This is a great time to finally explore digital literacy through classroom computers and our new bank of tablets that travel from class to class. There is a separate classroom where pre-school students are busy preparing for their first day of kindergarten. And the one-on-one tutoring room remains open for students who are struggling with their academics.

Students are learning about God, themselves, and others. There are chapel services daily, and the students continue to work through a conflict resolution program called Young Peacemaker.

Students all receive two healthy snacks and a hot lunch. Even the meals and snacks provide healthy eating, sensible portions, and palate expansion.

Neighborhood high school students serve as volunteers for Summer-Bridge Camp and help lead STEM enrichments for the younger students all summer. High School students are also participating in a summer program called Future Workforce. It is described in the Financial Fitness Program section.

On Monday through Thursday, after their summer academics are complete, students enjoy two enrichments. Enrichment examples have included: Volleyball, Soccer, Football, Basketball, nutrition, Cooking, Nutrition, Art, STEM Projects, Robotics, Music, Yoga, Rapping, Creative Writing, Research, Financial Fitness, etc.!!!

Fridays are fun days. Groups go offsite for bowling, skating, or to visit the children’s museum. Others stay onsite and have water, movie, or game days. The final four Fridays are Field Trip Fridays for the whole camp. We are able to charter buses and visit Lowry Park Zoo, The Florida Aquarium, and MOSI – all in Tampa. Plus, the students have received six survival swimming lessons at the YMCA over the summer. Students, parents and staff all travel to Rock Springs for a tubing adventure for the final field trip.

Summer-Bridge Camp ends with Ring-abration, a community celebration of the accomplishments of the year, followed by a pancake breakfast-for-lunch for families and community guests. Students leave with a backpack that has been lovingly filled with their needed school supplies and with two new sets of school uniforms. Backpacks and uniforms are provided by members of our community. Most importantly they are better prepared socially, spiritually, academically, and physically for the coming school year.

To make Summer-Bridge Camp happen, we need tons of volunteers as tutors and enrichment leaders. Click the Serve button to find out how you can be part of it. The major funder for Summer-Bridge Camp is the George Jenkins Foundation. Many individuals and service organizations also fund aspects of the camp.


Vision Connection: Financial Fitness

Make [My] Money Last

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1

We desire that all ages be taught a comprehensive blend of financial skills, that they be encouraged to save for emergencies, and be provided a plan to improve their credit score. All financial fitness is taught in the context of God’s ownership of everything and our position as His managers. Financial fitness instruction is led by qualified money mentors. Student lessons incorporate parent participation at home.

  • During the school year, Academic Enrichment Program (AEP) students in grades K through 8 receive four sessions of financial fitness instruction.
  • During the summer AEP students in Summer-Bridge Camp receive eight sessions of financial fitness instruction.
  • High school students receive age-appropriate, quarterly Financial Fitness Boot Camps delivered by a professional money mentor.
  • Four times per year parents and children are invited to participate in Family Financial Fitness This occurs on evenings and includes dinner.


One goal is to exceed our county’s goal of accumulating $300 per household in an emergency fund. Our goal is to help households build a $500 emergency fund. High school and adult-aged participants are guided, one-on-one through the FDIC’s Money Smart curriculum and encouraged to open checking and savings accounts.

The programs for delivering the above strategies are in place. Temporary funding of much of Make [My] Money Last instruction was provided through a Chase Bank Settlement Fund negotiated by Attorney General Pam Bondi on behalf of the State of Florida.

Future Workforce Summer Program for Young Adult Program (YAP)

The Future Workforce Initiative is a pilot program that addresses many needs of high school students by teaching them vital soft job skills including interviewing and a positive work ethic. This program is for youth who live within our service boundaries. The 2016 and first cohort was funded by the Libertore Fund for Children. Participants go through an application process to be part of this program. The effort is unique in that it incorporates:

 soft job skills;

 goal setting;

 savings building;

 exposure to other nonprofits;

 field trips to colleges, trade schools, and STEM industries; and

 the opportunity to earn stipends both for immediate spending and for building a savings fund to be available upon graduation from high school or receipt of a job/education credential.

Future Workforce meets community needs through crime prevention (keeping kids off dangerous streets); job skills training (skilled work force); emergency savings fund creation (financial fitness); and high school graduation (educated workforce). It provides healthy lunches for each youth. Students are positioned to practice leadership skills with their younger counterparts in the Summer-Bridge Camp program in the afternoons. There will be collaborations with a minimum of six nonprofits for the students to participate in delivering a diversity of services. Examples of nonprofit jobsites visited include VISTE, Compassion House, Florida Baptist Children’s Home, Catapult, Habitat for Humanity, and Lighthouse Ministries. .

The program consists of job-related instruction one morning utilizing Powered for Life from Jobs for Life; service to a local non-profit three mornings; and field trips on one day. Tardiness, absences, and a poor work ethic will result in deductions in the daily stipends. Funds for savings match will be restricted in Parker Street accounts awaiting individual students’ graduation from high school.

Expected outcomes for students participating two years include high school graduation, completion of the FDIC’s Money Smart curriculum, opening of savings accounts, and $600 in savings upon graduation. Continuation in year-round afterschool academic enrichment program and personal growth plans will combine with work immersion experiences to provide students with a higher wage potential upon graduation from high school.


Vision Connection: Desirable Neighborhood

Homes for Hearts

The housing initiative utilizes volunteers and partnerships with landlords, residents and outside agencies to help stabilize families and beautify the blighted neighborhood. In 2015 88 volunteers logged 870 hours in neighborhood cleanups, landscaping, home repairs and renovations.

In 2016 two renovated homes are slated to be sold. Both have received historic preservation rewards from the Lakeland Historic Board.

Needed home improvements are identified and PSM serves as an advocate to connect homes to resources–whether from other nonprofits, volunteers, landlords, or the City of Lakeland. These activities reflect our desire to make our neighborhood a beautiful, desirable place to live both for home owners and renters.

Neighborhood Businesses

Parker Street Ministries strives to continue to be an example of a good business both internally, through our services, governance, and audits, and externally through a well-maintained facilities. We believe the maintenance of our facilities sends a message of hope and love to our neighborhood and to those who pass by on Mass Avenue. This takes lots of effort and tons of volunteers are needed in this area.

We also help achieve healthy neighborhood businesses by identifying and finding ways to discourage unhealthy neighborhood businesses. Our activities here involve regular interactions  with the Lakeland Police Department and Midtown Community Redevelopment Agency regarding criminal activity and how we can help curtail it. One way of helping is through crime prevention through environment design (CPTED). In the past this has included painting addresses on curbs to aid first responders and regular neighborhood trash and brush cleanups that clear site lines for police officers.

We also help residents identify business practices that can be harmful to them including rent-to-own, paycheck advance, fast food restaurants, and income tax prep sites. These businesses often fill under-resourced neighborhoods.

Finally, PSM has had representatives serve on the MidTown CRA and continues to seek collaborations with them. New and old neighborhood businesses are welcomed and invited to our events.


Vision Connection: Health and Wellness

Neighborhood Christmas Store

The annual Christmas Store helps neighborhood residents provide for their own children in a transformative way. Staff and volunteers create a fully-functioning store exclusively for the neighborhood with over 2,500 brand new donated items priced 75 percent off their retail value. In 2015 1,882 gifts were sold to benefit 255 children from more than 91 families. One-hundred-fifteen children also shopped for their parents in a separate store. More than 343 volunteers made the store happen through 928 hours of labor, providing marketing, toy collection, registration, set-up, pricing, assistant shoppers, checkout, and wrapping.

Community Gatherings

Community gatherings build a sense of community in the neighborhood. They get people out of their houses and into “our house” where they can get to know and enjoy each other. It’s just good neighboring! Parker Street Ministries partnered with volunteers from inside and outside the neighborhood to host Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Splash, National Night Out, Ring-abration, and Fall Festival. The events serve an average of 200 residents who enjoy a nice blend of activities and a meal. In 2015, 457 volunteer hours were logged by 124 volunteers at community gatherings.

Health is integrated into the Academic Enrichment Program curriculum as we align with Polk Vision’s Quality of Life Task Force in implementing 5-2-1-0. We encourage and help implement:

5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day

2 hours of entertainment-oriented screen time

1 hour of physical activity

0 sugary drinks

Meet Up at the Market

Families are invited to join us on one Saturday. We meet up in the parking lot and walk to the Downtown Farmers Market where fresh produce is abundant and food stamps count double when they are used for Florida produce. Moms, dads, kids all take the trip and then are welcome to join us in our kitchen for some team meal-prep. Whatever is in season and cheap, we will work together and combine some of our food to make something for our families. So many ingredients are present in this small, organic food initiative: exercise, budgeting, nutrition, cooking, and community building.

Neighborhood Christmas Store

The annual Christmas Store helps neighborhood residents provide for their own children in a transformative way. Staff and volunteers create a fully-functioning store exclusively for the neighborhood with over 2,500 brand new donated items priced 75 percent off their retail value. In 2015 1,882 gifts were sold to benefit 255 children from more than 91 families. One-hundred-fifteen children also shopped for their parents in a separate store. More than 343 volunteers made the store happen through 928 hours of labor, providing marketing, toy collection, registration, set-up, pricing, assistant shoppers, checkout, and wrapping.