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Branches Provides Life-changing Opportunities to Children and Families in South Florida

Branches Provides Life-changing Opportunities to Children and Families in South Florida

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Branches is a local non-profit organization in Miami-Dade that helps working families and their children break the cycle of generational poverty.

Branches is a local non-profit organization in Miami-Dade that helps working families and their children break the cycle of generational poverty.

Branches was founded in 1973 as part of the Southeast District of the United Methodist Church. Yet, since 2000, and under the leadership of the current Executive Director Brent McLaughlin, it embarked on developing and implementing programs focused on the root causes of poverty and helping families climb out of this condition.  

 “We work with children, youths, and adults. What really sets us apart is that we take a two-generational approach serving the entire family, both children and parents. That’s how we think families could be successful together,” says Isabelle Pike, Branches’ Development Director. 

 They serve about 440 children and youths every day in all three of their sites in Florida City, South and North Miami. Their work is a one-on-one service; they make clear that they are not a transactional organization in which someone comes in, gets some food stamps, and then leaves. 
 

Their current approach dwells on student achievement, family services, and financial wellness throughout each of the three programs that serve children, youths, adults, and families: Grow, Climb, and Achieve. 
 

The Grow and Climb programs serve children and youths from elementary to high school. “Grow serves the little ones; we pick them up from school and bring them to Branches. They get snacks, get to play, do homework and have tutoring, but also do stuff that kids enjoy like arts and crafts, and yoga,” says Isabelle.   

Climb, on the other hand, is an academic-focused program for middle- and high-school students intended for them to become not only great students but also better people. They receive academic tutoring and life skills and enrichment classes. Activities include camps and retreats, field trips, team sports, Peace Works seminars, community service, Bible study, and worship.

Both these programs have 94% attendance yearly. Their secret to success, in their own words, is that kids and teenagers feel loved in Branches. “Our staff is amazing; they interact with children in a unique way, caring from the bottom of their hearts,” says Isabelle.    So many success stories have come out of Branches such as Danielle Neil’s. Danielle was born in Miami from Jamaican parents in an impoverished environment.

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Fortunately, at age eight, she was referred to Branches in Florida City and started the Grow after-school program in 2010, where she thrived academically. Also, Danielle’s mother began volunteering at Branches and has officially now been employed at Branches for over seven years as an afterschool assistant. Danielle graduated from Coral Reel High School this summer and was accepted this fall at Yale University with a full scholarship.
 

Finally, the Achieve program focuses on financial wellness serving parents and the community at large. “We served over 5,200 people last year, through one-on-one financial coaching on issues like credit, asset building, or tax preparation. We really try to get people stable in the long term to achieve success in life,” she concluded.   

Haz clic para leer en Español: Branches brinda oportunidades que cambian la vida de niños y sus familias en el sur de Florida

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