Mission and Purpose of Operation Reach
Operation Reach was established in June 2010, in response to the outcry from the Saginaw community for a program to provide a safe place for youth to go after-school and during the summer where they can learn how to be successful law abiding citizens. After the close of all three Saginaw Boys and Girls After-School Programs by December of 2010, Operation Reach launched the Operation Reach After-School Program in June 2011.
Noah Bruner, the founding director of Operation Reach took the initiative to start the Operation Reach After-School Program with no funding sources other than his own savings. He continues to work two jobs to help fund the program. Since the launch of the Operation Reach After-School Program, there have been so many successes. In April of 2012, Operation Reach was honored with the “Shining Star Community Service Zeta Phi Beta Sorority of Saginaw. In May of 2012, the Saginaw County Great Start Collaborative honored Operation Reach with the “Family-Friendly Business Spotlight Award.” forOperation Reach was also recognized by the City of Saginaw as a Youth Services Program of Merit.
The mission of Operation Reach is to provide a quality after-school program where youth can develop the components necessary to succeed. Research shows that 1 out of 4 foster youths will be incarcerated within 2 years of leaving foster care. Children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely than other youth to land in prison. One in 14 teens ages 16 to 19 are high school dropouts. Eighty-two percent of prison inmates were also high school dropouts. Several studies show that dropping out of school increases the risk of unemployment, arrest, and then leads to incarceration.
Due to the gaps left by the closure of the 21st Century After-School Programs from the Saginaw Public School District and the elimination of both west-side Boys and Girls Clubs in the city of Saginaw, Operation Reach announced open enrollment to meet the needs of the community. Finally, the Operation Reach After-School Program provides transportation and is open six days a week during the peak periods when at-risk youths are more likely to be involved in criminal activity.
“Because many of us grow up without fathers and a mother can only take us so far, we start looking for that positive male role model everywhere. And when we can’t find him in our circle, then we go to the streets.” This was a quote from a young man from Saginaw that attended the Ryan Correctional Facility’s Youth Deterrent Program in Detroit. For the past three years, Operation Reach has been answering the cries of these young men and offering support in the form of monthly field trips to the Ryan Correctional Facility’s Youth Deterrent Program, providing life skills training, teaching youth how to access available community resources, and helping them develop positive coping skills to handle life’s stressors. We also recruit at-risk youth to attend monthly workshops at the Saginaw Correctional Facility's Youth Deterrent Program. These programs are valuable tools to get through to some of our most challenging youths. The young men learn how to communicate calmly under pressure and how to make better choices in the face of intense negative peer pressure.
Our educational system often emphasizes the importance of a partnership between the schools and the parent. This is seen most noticeably in the assignment of homework, which is to be completed under a parent's guidance. Factors in working-class homes and those below the poverty level make such collaborations difficult, particularly for children who are raised by a single parent, have an incarcerated parent, or are influenced by other barriers. Most parents want to help their children succeed, but they often complain that they do not understand the assignments themselves, feel pressured for time, or are too tired from working outside the home to address this need. Operation Reach pieces together an array of strategies to help families meet the basic expectations of school districts. Operation Reach offers homework assistance, tutoring, and academic enrichment activities. Working with children both individually and in groups, school work is completed daily with the assistance of volunteers, college students, and staff members. There is even an after-school meal provided in order to create a supportive environment. As a result, there has been an overall increase in academic performance for the majority of program participants which has also resulted in a positive increase in overall self-esteem and a decrease in school suspensions.