St. James School
Who/how does the ministry partner serve? St. James School serves the immediate under-resourced area of Ridge/Allegheny/Hunting Park. The school (grades 4-8) provides a private school education worth approximately $30k per student to nearly ninety students per year at minimal to no cost to the families. The staff and faculty also engage the residents through the Welcome Table and through many community activities. The school is launching a new adult education component to their programming which will include one-on-one coaching, classes on digital and financial literacy and workshops on recreational areas.
How do I get involved? Get in touch with Jane Good or Laura Sibson if you're interested in enriching our relationship with St. James School. If you are a baker, we would love to have you join us in our Blessed Baking ministry for the families in the St James School community. This is an easy and meaningful way to enrich the lives of our near neighbors who attend the Welcome Table, a free farmers market at the school each Saturday. Baked goods are collected each Friday morning in the church parking lot at 9am by Jane Good.
Who is involved? Laura Sibson volunteers with students and serves on the Advancement Committee. Jane Good weekly delivers baked goods, volunteers at the Welcome Table and just started serving on the Advancement Committee. During the last academic year (which was largely on Zoom) Laura Sibson, Shona Mosely and Kim McNulty volunteered as after-school Zoom tutors. The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel brought St. Martin’s youth to the St. James School campus for service days. Prior to the pandemic, the volunteer base was a bit larger including David Adams and others helping with Saturday academic clinics and with work on site.
Identify successes. St. James School notes the St. Martin’s connection to the school as a model for church relationships. Individuals from the parish volunteer and contribute needed funding on a reliable basis and the commitment through the covenant creates a sense of stability and structure on both sides.
St. James School’s successes are many. They are engaged in a successful capital campaign that is allowing for the creation of a new building and the establishment of a legacy fund to ensure the school’s success into the future. Each year they graduate students and assist those students and their families in the high school application program. Additionally, they assist the high school graduates with the process of applying to college or trade school and identifying needed aid for those individuals. All this work aligns with their mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education.
What are some struggles? St. James School is seeking increased numbers of people of color volunteering on campus. They would also enjoy more connection to worship with St. Martin’s including St. Martin’s folk worshipping at St. James and St. James folk feeling welcome to worship at St. Martin’s. Additionally, they need connections in higher education institutions and businesses willing to employ St. James School alumnx.
Share the impact. St. James School has a direct and identifiable impact on the surrounding area from the students being educated in the classroom to support offered to families and to the resources available to the broader community. Over their ten years of operation, they have grown in important and sustainable ways from 16 to 87 students; from 6 to 31 faculty and staff; from 3 to 441 volunteers; from 342 to 1299 donors. They employ both a health practitioner and a trauma-informed school counselor to provide needed resources to the students and families. While this organization educates a fraction of the students living in the City of Philadelphia, it is providing a much-needed service until our state government can be convinced to provide education equity.
Report from the September 2021 Community Engagement Committee Retreat