Meet new staff, get updated on programs and graduates, and see how resources were used to serve Columbus’ inner city youth!
Dear Parents, Volunteers and Supporters:
I’m writing in response to the recent disturbing news that a former employee in the Urban Concern After School Program was arrested on March 7 on charges of Gross Sexual Imposition. In an effort to be transparent and maintain the trust in our ministry that we have labored for many years to build, I will outline the significant events that took place.
On February 9, a parent of a student in Tori Holden-Turner’s After School Program class informed me that her child shared with her over the prior weekend that Tori had touched her bottom outside of her clothing three times during the previous week. The student was confident that the touches were not inadvertent even though they were brief.
The same day, I contacted Franklin County Children’s Services and placed Tori on leave of absence while we conducted a thorough investigation. The next day, I left a message with a police detective who had recently visited the school to see if she could assist with the investigation.
On February 13, we were able to identify surveillance video footage that appeared to show Tori in the gymnasium briefly touching the student on the bottom outside of her clothing during the After School Program. There were other adults and students in the room.
As a result of the student’s testimony and the surveillance video, I terminated Tori from his position. Later that day, Tori confessed to a third party that he had indeed intentionally touched the student, as well as two other students in a similar manner – on the bottom and outside clothing – during the same week of February 1. He commented that he was not sure if the two other students realized what he had done. Unfortunately, Tori did not reveal the identity of the two other students and then ceased contact with the third party and the school.
I subsequently mailed a letter to the parents of the students in Tori’s After School Program classroom to inform them of the allegations against Tori and his recent termination.
Meanwhile, Franklin County Children’s Services notified me that they had reviewed my referral and determined that they would not conduct an investigation at the time. Knowing that Tori had confessed to inappropriately touching two other students, I continued to pursue my contact at the police department. As a result of my contact with the police, they opened an investigation on or around February 25.
The detective interviewed the other students in Tori’s After School Program class and identified one other victim. At this time, we do not know who the third victim is. Based on Tori’s confession, the detective isn’t sure that the student even knows that she was touched.
I thank God that he brought these sad events into the light quickly and for the courageous student who spoke up. For several years, we have taught a curriculum called “Good Touch, Bad Touch” with the students at Harambee. The purpose of the curriculum is to teach students the kinds of touches that are inappropriate and the importance of telling a safe adult if someone does touch him or her inappropriately. I believe the brave student that came forward with the information about Tori did so as a result of the “Good Touch, Bad Touch” training and the parenting she receives at home.
I also thank God that he gave us wisdom to navigate this difficult situation. The one regret I have is that some parents learned of these events first through the media rather than the school. I want to apologize to the parents who were taken off guard by the sudden news reports this week.
Finally, I thank God for the outpouring of support from so many of you who have reaffirmed your appreciation for and confidence in the work at Harambee through this difficult time.
Moving forward, we will continue to teach the students the importance of reporting inappropriate touches. In addition, we have subscribed to an abuse avoidance training for all staff and key volunteers. And since the surveillance video played such an important role in this investigation, we have already installed more cameras. We are looking into installing several more cameras.
Please join me in praying for the students affected by these events and for the continued safety of all the precious children at Harambee. Also, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
New model for small group bible studies at Harambee
Enter Warrior Wednesday
Dear Friends and Partners,
Harambee students excel academically compared with their peers from the same demographic. The typical student at Harambee achieves well above the national average. And the average Eighth Grade student over the past three years has finished their career at Harambee prepared for High School in the 81st percentile in Mathematics and the 65th percentile in Reading.
This school year we are privileged to have 134 students enrolled in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade at Harambee Christian School. We value each student and provide each with an exceptional education that focuses on academic excellence, character development and spiritual growth.
Many Harambee students are eligible for an Ohio EdChoice Voucher, which covers a portion of their $6,000 annual tuition. The Harambee Scholarship Fund provides the remaining funds needed to ensure each student receives an excellent education. Thanks to the generosity of Xenos Christian Fellowship and many individual donors we have raised $270,000 to date.
Breakdown of Harambee’s Funding
We are still looking to raise $27,000 for the Harambee Scholarship Fund by year end to support students in need.
Please consider providing a hopeful foundation for a young person’s life by making a year end investment in the Harambee Scholarship Fund. Together we will raise up a new generation of leaders for Columbus’ inner city.
Alive to Thrive Gathering focuses on student success
Looking to put a fresh twist on the tired old school assembly, Youth Ministry Director, Brandon Grant, set out to give the students at Harambee Christian School what they wanted: a school-wide dance party with special guest speakers, student performers, academic and character achievement awards, and candy.
Brandon created the Alive to Thrive Gathering to honor Harambee students who are actively living out the school’s Character Essentials: hope, grit, faith, love, integrity, zest, humility, and gratitude.
Each gathering, a student from every grade is nominated by his or her classroom teacher to be Thriver of the Week. Each Thriver receives words of encouragement and praise in front of the entire student body to the tune of raucous applause. In this way, students are held up before their peers as role models of academic achievement and upstanding character.
When asked how it feels and what it means to be a Thriver, 3rd grade recipient, Jorge, says, “Being a Thriver makes me feel important and joyful. It means being respectful and having responsibility for my actions.” Fellow Thriver, Jaeon, says, “Being a Thriver means being respectful and kind. It means having grit and zest and love and not giving up!”
We are grateful for all our Thrivers and for the teachers and mentors who invest in them. Please join us in praying that academic and character success would continue to be esteemed among our students and that they would continue to grow in love for God, others, and learning.
Last Friday, we were honored to celebrate the graduation of Harambee’s third eighth grade class. As always, there was a strong show of support by family and loved ones, as well as Harambee staff and volunteers.
Our students are excited to enter high performing high schools including Cristo Rey Columbus, Worthing Christian, and Centennial.
Even though they have yet to begin their high school careers, these students began attending high school home churches as a part of Xenos Christian Fellowship this past February.
We are excited to follow these students through this exciting transition into young adulthood and ask that you’d join us in praying for this next step in their lives.
We are both humbled and excited to announce that Urban Concern received over twice as much support through The Columbus’ Foundation’s Big Give than in previous years!
66 total contributions made exceeded $45,000 which will go directly to programs and materials impacting inner city youth at Urban Concern and Harambee Christian School.
Thank you to all who made The Big Give an outstanding success for Urban Concern and inner city youth.
We look forward to thanking and acknowledging each and every contributor individually, as soon as The Columbus Foundation releases the donor lists later this month.
In the meantime, please let this serve as a representation of our deepest thanks. Your gifts are an investment in the lives and futures of students loved deeply by God.
This is why Urban Concern exists.
Urban Concern exists to help inner city youth overcome challenges and become a new generation of leaders for a community in need.
We aim to empower youth by providing a network of committed and caring mentors, resources to empower the whole family, and opportunities for educational excellence.
In 1998, Urban Concern founded Harambee Christian School in South Linden, which has grown from a single class of 15 kindergarten students to a high performing private school serving 140 students in grades K-8.
Staff and mentors continue to invest in our students upon graduation in an effort to help them thrive in high school, college, and into adulthood. Our ultimate vision is to see these students become a new generation of leaders and mentors, themselves, for inner city youth throughout Columbus and the world.
Are you interested in championing the cause of Columbus’ inner city youth? On May 12th, you can make a gift with serious impact!
Every gift counts!
We are excited to share with you what God has done with our students and organization over the past year. Outstanding academic results, graduates walking with God into high school, and exciting new staff – read about all of this and more in our 2015 Annual Report.