LUMBERTON — A local nonprofit that provides tutoring services to children in public housing recently received two $1,000 grants to bolster its reach.
Gene Jones, who started Arrested Potential Inc. in 2014, says the money will be put towards program costs, like updating software, and towards providing nutritious snacks for the 20-some students the nonprofit sees every day.
Arrested Potential Inc. was presented with a check from the Robeson County Community Foundation on Aug. 1, and was also recently awarded a grant by United Way of Robeson County to pay for the snacks.
Abe Marshall, chairman of the board of advisors for the Robeson County Community Foundation, said the foundation chose Arrested Potential because of its benefits to children in the Lumbee Homes neighborhood, where it is based.
“The foundation was particularly impressed with the computer lab, which allows children to sharpen their technological skills,” Marshall said.
Located at 801 McDougald St., the Arrested Potential facility hosts a tutoring program during much of the year as well as a Parental Skills Enhancement Program. The tutoring program took a break in July, Jones said, and will return Aug. 24. The program is open to children ages 5 to 9.
Students receive help with their homework and utilize a math program that tracks their progress.
“Each child is unique,” Jones said. “The public schools system is geared for the average child. Some of those students come from dysfunctional families, dysfunctional homes.”
Public schools don’t always have the resources to reach those children, Jones says, and that’s where Arrested Potential steps in. But Jones says the nonprofit’s benefits extend beyond report cards.
“We try to reach them at that age to create value system,” Jones said. ” … They’ve got an inkling of what they value at that age and we want them to value education and we want them to value themselves as individuals.”
Jones says the program teaches students that they have to work for what they want, and that they can overcome the obstacles they encounter in life. In the very least, the facility provides them with a safe environment when they aren’t at home or at school.
“We want to show these kids we really care about them and when you care about someone, there’s a positive reaction,” Jones said.
Marshall says Arrested Potential will “inevitably” improve the quality of life for its participants, some of whom were at the check presentation on Aug. 1.
“I was personally moved when I saw three kids looking for books to read and snacks to eat — on a Saturday,” he said.
Jones hopes eventually to expand to all of Lumberton’s housing developments. Arrested Potential is looking for volunteers to help tutor children and serve as mentors.
Despite recent violent crimes in those neighborhoods, including Lumbee Homes, Jones said Arrested Potential has had no issues at its facility and nothing has been stolen. He sees the program as an example of action being taken in the community to keep children from a life of crime.
“ … In the U.S. and in our community, we don’t look at the biggest natural resource we have and that’s our children,” Jones said.
For information about Arrested Potential or to donate or volunteer, visit www.arrestedpotential.com or call Jones at 910-384-2310.
The grant is one of 11 the Robeson County Community Foundation has distributed to local nonprofits this year.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.