Operation Seeds of Hope is a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland that is working to break the cycle of poverty in Cleveland's Slavic Village Neighborhood.

Broadway Slavic Village, organized in 1814, is one of the earliest settlements in Cuyahoga County. Located just south of downtown Cleveland, it is has a rich ethnic history and is currently a diverse community of just over 22,000. Throughout the 19th and early 20th Century, industrial and commercial development was so strong that the neighborhood rivaled downtown, but along with the rest of Cleveland, the loss of industry left the neighborhood facing tough times financially.

The challenges facing the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood are not unlike those facing inner-city communities across the United States. Poverty, especially among children, is almost triple the national average, with 35% of the total population (children: 45%) of the neighborhood at or below the poverty line, compared to the national average of 12.7%. Additionally, 30% of the residents never finished high school and an additional 36% of residents stopped pursuing formal education after high school graduation. Finally, 72% of children in the neighborhood live in a home with a single parent, compared to the national average of 31%, which can lead to children being left unsupervised after school if the parent works full-time.

The amount of time a child spends out of school each day is double the amount of time he or she is in school, and how that time is spent can significantly impact their lives. Without direction and left unsupervised, youths will often find trouble. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, "The hours from 3 to 6 p.m. are the peak time for juvenile crime and victimization." After school programs have been shown to address these issues and improve the educational outcomes of their participants. A 2007 national study conducted on 21st Century Community Learning Centers found that students attending afterschool programs receiving their grant showed improvement in reading (43%) and math (42%). Additionally, a study by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at the University of California, Los Angeles showed a significant positive correlation to the number of days per week and the total number years a student spent attending the LA Best after school program and reduction drug use and criminal behavior.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland (BGCC) provides students with access to a safe place with caring adult mentors and enriching programs that allow them to explore their passions. Their mission is "to inspire and enable young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens."

With 14 clubs around the city, they work to break the poverty cycle by providing more than 7,000 kids a safe space to learn and grow; and the information speaks for itself:

94%: The number members that progress to the next grade on time

170,000: The number of hot meals they provide annually members to help address food insecurity

Program Access: Athletics, arts, music, horticulture, graphic design, dance and more

Through this partnership, the Cleveland 1st Platoon will work to empower the most at-risk youth in Cleveland to reach their potential as citizens. We will do this by improving accessibility to youth-focused programs and opportunities. The primary focus will be the Broadway Slavic Village Club, and projects at other sites will be considered as they arise in order to maximize our impact. At the Broadway Slavic Village Club, we will focus on building and strengthening the Horticulture Program through the enhancement of the children's garden and improvements to the vegetable garden, as well as improving the overall safety and security of their outdoor spaces to help prevent damage and theft. Also encompassed in this work will be the support to the creation of a nature conservancy and cleaning/landscaping grounds.

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