According to Northside Inter-Community Agency Inc. Executive Director Connie Nahoolewa,
Northside Inter-Community Agency (NICA) has been positively impacted by North Texas Giving Day each year. Funds raised support the agency’s food pantry, which serves low-income working families and the elderly on small, fixed incomes.
High school students in NICA’ s Circle of Winners program are changing the course of their lives and the lives of their families by completing high school and entering college and becoming first-generation college graduates.
Circle of Winner students are paid to mentor children in after-school programs in Fort Worth’s Northside. They also provide programs and activities for children during the summer. The money the students earn is put directly into a bank account that can only be used for tuition and books.
The program began in 2004. Since then, 100% of the students have stayed in school and graduated high school. Almost 97 percent of the students complete at least one year of college. Others have not only graduated from college, but have gone on for higher degrees.
The students meet every Saturday morning. They are taken on tours of college campuses. They are helped to complete college applications and scholarship applications.
In interviews with the Circle of Winners’ students about why they want to go to college and obstacles they see preventing others going to college they have said:
“Seeing my parents, how they work and how they don’t have extra money to buy other things, has helped me to want to attend college so I can help my family in the future.”
“Kids when they start working like at fast food places and getting paid, don’t see the need to go to college. They think they are making enough money to pay their bills.”
“Some of the students I know don’t go to college because they have kids early.”
“Parents, who do not speak English, cannot always help their children with their school work and the kids fall behind in school.”
“We live in a predominately Hispanic community. Many parents believe that college is not worth the time or investment so they convince their children to work instead.
“The cost to go to college is a barrier. People, especially Hispanic people, fear student debt.
“NICA’s Circle of Winners program has helped me to pursue a higher education so I can get a better job.”
“Motivation to stay in college may be a problem, because for me compared to high school it’s all about self-motivation.”
NICA’s food pantry is a blessing for low-income families. Statistics show that two-thirds of families only come one time during the year to request food. Usually this is a result of changing jobs, an unexpected car repair, reduced hours at work, etc. Funds raised through NTGD help to stock the pantry.
Families with high school students in the Circle of Winners program have benefited from pantry services when needed. First generation Circle of Winner college graduates are a strength to their families and the community. By obtaining higher education the students are helping to break the cycle of poverty.
* Graphic and photo provided by Northside Inter-Community Agency Inc.
In 11 years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $290 million into the North Texas community. In 2019, more than $50 million was raised through more than 169,000 gifts benefiting over 2,988 area nonprofits.