Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bright Futures Joplin Board: We're not going anywhere

The Bright Futures Joplin Board of Directors, in a statement released two hours ago on the organization's website, says it plans to go full speed ahead, despite the Joplin R-8 Board of Education's 5-2 decision Tuesday night not to fund two employees.

The statement is printed below:

A message from the Bright Futures Joplin Board of Directors -

Several weeks ago, Bright Futures Joplin requested that the Board of Education agree to extend the funding of two salaried positions to continue the important work of coordinating volunteers and serving students for the 2016/2017 school year. This request was not to take away from any tax-payer revenues, but rather would have come from the Bright Futures Joplin designated activity fund remaining in the district that cannot be spent for any other purpose than to fulfill the mission of Bright Futures Joplin as per donor intent. These positions have been funded through that account since the inception of Bright Futures with the full support of the Board of Education, the Bright Futures Board, and the donors that gave, so this was not a request that would have been out of the ordinary. It would have allowed BFJ additional time to become self-sufficient with external funds, as it has always been BFJ's goal to never take away tax-payer revenues from the important work of education - but rather for this effort to supplement and support that work. We felt this was a very reasonable request, but last night the Joplin Schools Board of Education voted to decline to fund the positions from the BFJ activity account.

We want to be very clear - we are moving forward with our mission and will raise the money necessary to continue helping Joplin students. We know we have the support of the Joplin community. We had five wonderful people speak on our behalf last night, and could have had many more. Just today, we have received a host of calls, emails, and text messages from Joplin Schools administrators and staff concerned that they will no longer have access to these vital supports for kids, and we are here to say that this need not be a concern. Bright Futures Joplin will continue its work! We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to become completely self-sufficient and are committed to working in alignment with District leadership to best serve the needs of Joplin Schools staff and students. Our mission is simple, clear, and devoid of any other motivation than to ensure that our kids are successful in school and in life.

We look forward to meeting with many of you to discuss our plans and appreciate the many dedicated partners who help us in this work. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and your encouragement. And thank you to the thousands of volunteers and donors who have helped Bright Futures Joplin over the last six years. We can't wait to see what the future holds for our great organization! The best is certainly yet to come!


Anonymous said...

Pardon my French.......I call bullshit.

OMG! said...

That is the biggest heapin helpin of bovine scatology that I have ever read!

Karma calling said...

"We look forward to meeting with many of you to discuss our plans and appreciate the many dedicated partners who help us in this work."

Don't you mean get on your knees and beg for them to pay your salaries Melissa? You'll be out of a job if they don't. Better get knee pads and lotion, you're going to be there awhile.

Anonymous said...

Help students,yes!Helping the "adult" egos of BF,NO! "Knows everything Norm" was the one who "solved"this issue months ago.Yes,design a new program that is devoid of the "look at us aren't we great BF -Huffites types"

Anonymous said...

In one neighboring district smaller than Joplin, 1 1/2 employees are being paid by the school district to run their "Bright Futures" like program. I realize Joplin BF has ballooned into something different than originally planned, but I do not think having two employees to run an operation is too much to ask. I think Joplin BF needs to rethink its purpose, and remember its main goal. It is a lot of work for people to handle it, and they deserve compensation. With a new purpose and school funded workers, Joplin BF, or rename it, could help students.

I have seen so many kids get fed, shoes, tuition help (extremely bright kids with no money getting help with ACT costs, dual credit costs, and AP testing costs), get housing (yes, get housing and gas... some students are pushed out at 17), and so much more. I am an educator and I truly believe education is a way out of poverty. Invest now, reap the benefits later.

As people sit and judge programs like Joplin BF, investigate other districts that left the BFUSA. What are they doing? Poverty is a huge problem in this area, and kids are starving.

Please remember there is a difference between BFUSA and Joplin BF. Look at the organization, not its innovator.

Anonymous said...

7:01AM I agree that getting kids fed and a clean shirt and maybe some shoes are good things. These things were done by the school councilors and volunteers and teachers before BF. How much more help can $100,000 per year do for these kids if we didn't have to pay the two people? That is what they were asking for the school to pay for.

Other districts like Diamond and Jasper have a similar program called Moving Mountains. Poverty is even bigger in those districts and resources are smaller. It is a 100% volunteer organization. They do the same thing and just don't put much time/energy/money into PR.

My question is, will the volunteers that invested so much time and energy with the schools continue to support them? My guess is yes, nothing has changed for the volunteers. It is the paid staff that will change.

Anonymous said...

8:13- Please look at your statement. Diamond and Jasper are smaller than Joplin, (both towns have less than 1,000, and I know they serve rural areas, but still). Using stats from Wikipedia (not the best source, if you have better stats, please share), Diamond has 11.6% of the population below the poverty level, Jasper has 12.4%, and Joplin has 14.8%.

If you think these organization just give out "a clean shirt and maybe some shoes", you are part of the problem. Are you volunteering? Obviously not.

Joplin Schools is the 23rd largest school district with a population with 7,878 students. Doing the math, we can guestimate 1165 students living in poverty (14.8% poverty rate times 7,784). I realize I made a lot of assumptions. Diamond has 877 total student population, and Jasper has 479 total student population.

I am not saying Joplin BF is perfect. I am advocating for it to be revamped with people paid for their time. It takes time and energy to get resources to serve over 1,000 students. PR is needed to get donations. Look at any other type of non profit organization.

I am a teacher and I have seen how this type of program can help students. Once again, I am not a fan of the status quo and I think it can be ran better and more efficiently (look at area districts). It would be interesting to compare Webb City, East Newton, and other school districts handle their organizations.

Randy- I really sometimes you could leave Joplin and look at the other districts. See how they do school. The comparison would be more fair. I do know you are mending, and I wish you Godspeed on getting better.

Annoyed said...

You must not be an English teacher. Please check your work before posting, it's terribly difficult to read with all of the missing words.

And FYI, it's " I think it could be better "run"..." not "ran". It speaks volumes to the grammar and writing abilities of today's youth.

Anonymous said...

You could not argue the facts. Thank you for the editing advice and your kindness shown to a fellow human being. I apologize I forgot to edit because I'm passionate about kids.

So, what are your arguments against the facts or numbers?

Anonymous said...

To be clear, Bright Futures Joplin was not asking for $98,000. That was not an accurate number whatsoever. It was asking for two employees - one who makes $35,000/year + benefits, and one who would make $26,000/year + benefits. These are not highly paid people - in fact, they deserve much more for the hours they work, the stress they endure for just trying to help kids, and the drama that this community has surrounded their efforts with for absolutely no good reason. All of the heartburn over Bright Futures Joplin has surrounded assumption about CJ Huff and friends. The team in place today is made up of two people who are paid much less than they are worth and who work incredibly hard for all the right reasons. They have cut through some serious politics and attempted to stay focused on the mission in spite of the political pull to stray away.

Bright Futures Joplin was NOT created to simply buy shoes and snack packs for kids - it is not and has never been Moving Mountains. It was an entire community engagement strategy to draw the community in to help students in Joplin Schools. Hence the marketing and the intentional targeting of partnerships, etc. All of the programs and initiatives have come from grassroots teachers and building-level leaders and area non-profits who ASKED Bright Futures to help them get things off the ground and fill gaps that existed for kids that would help solve the graduation rate issue.

The assumptions and accusations made against the organization are all about personal issues that individuals have with CJ Huff. Period. Any organization, business, or group that would like to work together to help kids has ALWAYS been welcome at the table. So come on down, Moving Mountains. I'm pretty sure BFJ would LOVE to have your help in Joplin!

Anonymous said...

837 so why not just have a new look and discard the baggage. not going to happen because the BF crowd cannot abide by a name/program change.If it's for the kids then settle the waters and have a new adult egos/pride of authorship are more important...

Anonymous said...

10:38 - Because Bright Futures Joplin is the original Bright Futures. This community founded it and birthed it together right here in Joplin. We didn't "affiliate" or get hooked up to USA...this was built together with hundreds of Joplin people at the table to build and work it. Why would BF Joplin abandon that because of misinformed people who are angry at the former superintendent? It would cost BF Joplin tons of money to redo everything...for what? To satisfy the angry mob? If the angry mob is "for the kids," why are THEY so hung up on a name? If BF Joplin is doing good work - and they are - why do we care what it's called?? How about we lay down our arms and just work together? That really seems to make a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

"Mob"...the elite attitude toward those who disagree with BF going forward..that word says it all.Snobs helping the" mob"",doing their good with ample look at me pride.Sorry let's have a fresh restart.BFJOPLIN has a damaged reputation.

Not angry, just fed up said...

Joplin was helping students long before BF was conceived by CJ HUFF and other towns continue to do so successfully without paid employees. BF was a Huff project, not a community collaboration. Huff used the tornado as a way to capitalize on serving the children of our city. He handed over the keys to the castle to people with no experience who mishandled the funds. Paying rent, mortgage and utilities for "certain" people, in the thousands of dollars, is not what the money was intended for by the donors. Sending elementary children on college trips is a waste of funds as well, they have no idea why they are there. Send middle school children, or use the funds for coats, shoes and food for hungry families. Better yet, use the money for the extra weekend snack packs you claim you didn't have the funds to cover. You think we aren't paying attention, when in fact we are watching and listening very closely.
Calling the citizens of Joplin an "angry mob" will not garner you friends or backing, only more escorts showing you the door. The theory behind BF is good, the baggage attached to it, including "the former superintendent" and the current angry woman in charge who staunchly supports Huff and everything he stands for, are not good things. There are only a handful of people still supporting the current BF Joplin or your fundraising efforts would have been more successful and you would not have been in front of the board asking for another year of salaries. The bad attitude toward the community, the "I know best and will do as I please with the money" attitude, the fact that "it's for the kids" and you insist on being a paid volunteer and the baggage that comes with the name - it's time for BF Joplin to go down the road with Huff. We will continue to care for our own children like other communities. Your negativity has drained this community of all its energy. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

The whole idea of using social media to tie all the community together and meet student needs within 24 hours started before the name Bright Futures and before the tornado. In fact, that probably helped some with recovery right after. It was a very good thing.
When Bright Futures happened, you couldn't get anything for students without going through Huff or his designated helpers. If you asked directly (in email or on Facebook, for example) you got in trouble. After the tornado, it exploded into some weird organization of post-tornado volunteers getting jobs.
Sadly, Bright Futures (and most associated with it) has an extremely negative reputation. Keeping the community tied together is extremely important to support all kids. Making up ways to give people salaries and awards is not only unimportant, it's also disgusting.