The BIG IDEA
February’s BIG IDEA
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, merely 18.7 percent of African Americans over age 25 held a Bachelors degree or higher in 2007. It is no wonder, then, that Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Marin City, California, located ten miles north of San Francisco, decided to improve these statistics by addressing the issues of academic preparedness and literacy in their community.
In 2004, Cornerstone Community COGIC, under the leadership of Pastor Jonathan Logan and program director Bettie Hodges, began the Hannah Project. Ms. Hodges, who worked on the church’s scholarship committee, realized that fewer and fewer kids were attending college. Later, she learned that some parents were unable to help their children with college applications because of the parents’ limited education. It became evident to Ms. Hodges that the church should take on the responsibility of guiding students through the college entrance process. Thus, the Hannah Project began as a way to give students and their parents information about the SAT, FAFSA (student aid), and other college requirements. The project coordinators discovered, however, that students needed help prior to completing applications, so the Hannah Project began providing tutoring, SAT preparation, and college tours for students. The Project also provides support group assistance for parents, providing them with peer group opportunities, helping with communication skill-building, and functioning as a prayer group.
The Hannah Project is a ministry of Cornerstone Community COGIC. Families who participate in the Project do not have to be members of Cornerstone. Participation is open to families from the surrounding community. The Hannah Project has also partnered with schools that refer students to the program, find mentors for students, and provide space for the program. Due to the generous donations of organizations, including the College Access Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation, the Milagro Foundation, and private donors, participants are able to pay deeply-discounted activity fees and are guaranteed financial support upon completion of the program.
Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ implemented its BIG IDEA to confront what Pastor Logan identifies as the “educational divide” in Marin City, California. The Hannah Project bridges the gap between high school graduation and college entrance for a number of students who otherwise might not successfully complete either. This church of less than 200 members is demonstrating innovative ministry through its commitment to making education accessible for all members of the community.
(800) USA-LEARN or (800) 872-5327
List of state contact information: http://www.ed.gov/programs/21stcclc/contacts.html
List of State Contacts and Liasons: http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/fbci/contact-states.html
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