WHO WE ARE
Grace Place has become an educational touchstone for the Golden Gate community. Reports show that the most substantial challenges facing our country – rising crime and school dropout rates, increasing health-care costs, the importance of competing in the world marketplace – can most effectively be addressed by concentrating resources on the social and educational development of our children. Where education is lacking, poverty thrives. At Grace Place, we empower the children and families of Golden Gate to change the course of their future through education. Pioneering holistic family education in Collier County, we work across the spectrum to break the cycle of poverty.
Our educational programs are designed to bridge the academic achievement gap seen between families in middle- and upper-income households, and families with household incomes that fall beneath these economic lines. We have developed a dynamic program model that functions as a conduit for progress and produces long-lasting results. Currently over 800 students are enrolled in our educational programs that include: two School Age Programs, an Adult Education Program, and the nationally recognized Bright Beginnings program, which earned Grace Place the distinguished honor of becoming a Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy program provider.
For the last 11 years, we have been the only nonprofit with a foothold in the community, and there is a meaningful trust between us and those we serve. Motivated by the ideals of faith, we place a strong importance on teaching good values, ethics and a sense of morality. Grace Place has become more than an educational resource to our students, it has been touted “the heart of the neighborhood,” and for many, a beacon of hope and a lifeline to a more prosperous future.
Although education is the core focus of our organization and its mission, we also have a Friday Food Pantry that serves 200 families a week with a bag of basic groceries and additional baked goods, frozen meat, dairy products and fresh produce. Grace Place also works extensively with community partners to provide medical and mental health screenings and referrals for other services. These additional offerings support Grace Place’s mission by meeting the basic need of nourishment and health that is essential for strong mental and physical development.
We are a volunteer driven organization. Over 200 volunteers dedicate two to four hours of their time weekly. In addition, over 500 volunteers give their time throughout the year. Our dedicated volunteers together with our exceptional Florida Certified teachers — including two Golden Apple Teachers, two Teachers of Distinction and a Teacher of the Year — are a testament to the important and imperative work we do. Together we are committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by helping others help themselves through education.
WHO WE SERVE
We serve Golden Gate, the highest pocket of need in Collier County, outside of Immokalee. Problems that contribute to low academic achievement – such as high poverty levels, language barriers, parental illiteracy and/or low education levels, poor living conditions and under-performing schools – beset this community and its children. Over eighty-five percent of the 440 families Grace Place serves have a household income of less than $20,400. For over ninety-nine percent of the families, English is not the primary language spoken in the home, with seventy-five percent speaking Spanish and twenty-four percent speaking Haitian Creole. Eighty-eight percent of the parents have less than a high school education; thirty-five percent have less than a fifth grade education; and almost thirty percent are functionally illiterate.
These families are the backbone of Collier County, working in the lawn care, housekeeping, hospitality, construction and low-end retail industries. These barriers of income, language and low education can be overcome by a family commitment and access to effective literacy and academic programs. Our students are committed to making life changes. Not everyone is born with equal opportunities, but the children and families of Grace Place are doing their part to free themselves of poverty and illiteracy. Our hardworking families are seeking the American Dream: a life of security, stability, possibility, prosperity and education. Together, we are committed to combating the cycle of poverty through education, hard work and perseverance.