Partnerships Make Greater Midland Even Stronger
For teen-agers to succeed and thrive in today’s world, they need a strong foundation.
Luckily for Midland County teens, they’ve got The ROCK.
The ROCK (Reaching Our Community Kids) Center for Youth Development is one of the many partners of Greater Midland working with kids in our community. The ROCK is a nonprofit, teen-focused organization providing character and life skills education, out-of-school-time programs, and community-based activities for middle and high school students.
“We estimate Grounded, our after-school program, will be used 35,000 times in this school year by about 950 different students. That’s a 25% increase in usage over 2015-16 and nearly 450 percent growth in the last five years,” said Beverlee Wenzel, executive director.
A big reason for The ROCK’s growth is moving its headquarters in 2014 to the Greater Midland Community Center, Wenzel said.
Every year, Greater Midland impacts the lives of thousands of youth through our programs and by partnerships with strong community-based organizations. “Our partnership with Greater Midland has been a game-changer for us. Not only do parents trust the Community Center, it’s also in a central location, it’s a better facility, and there are more amenities,” she said.
About 230 teens – mostly middle-schoolers -- take part each day in ROCK Grounded, a free after-school program that provides mentorship, tutors, games, activities, food at three Midland County locations: Jefferson Middle School, Northeast Middle School and the Greater Midland Community Center.
Surveys show that teens who participate in The ROCK’s after-school program show improvements in many areas.
“Self-confidence we know goes up. They’re more likely to get better grades, to have better attendance, and not do drugs or other risky behaviors. In addition, their gratitude goes up and graduation rates go up. So it’s absolutely everything you need to be a contributing member of society,” Wenzel explained.
Along with the after-school program, The ROCK offers two other services.
ROCK Exposure is a classroom-based program that fosters character building and empowers young people to create a vision for their future. This year, more than 1,000 Midland County students will take part in the program.
ROCK Unplugged is a series of community-based teen events encouraging healthy life choices and relationships, creating a sense of community awareness, and allowing teens to take part in safe and supportive social activities. Events include lock-ins and pool parties.
Greater Midland President/CEO Kristen McDonald said partnerships such as the one with The ROCK are vital.
“By working together and making these important connections, we can all make a bigger impact on the entire community,” McDonald said.
-- For more information on The ROCK, go to www.therockc4yd.org.