Bethany Cares Inc. (BCI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on delivering a literacy and social action curriculum to the children and families of Newark. Spearheaded by Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church, BCI is a community development corporation that enhances the church’s outreach capacity by serving families and young people from all walks of life.
BCI was founded in 2002, under the leadership of then-new pastor Rev. Dr. M. William Howard of Bethany Baptist Church. It was created with the goal of enriching the lives of community residents within the surrounding community by promoting community and economic empowerment. A board of directors comprised of church members and non-church members guides BCI. From 2002 to 2007, BCI worked with adjudicated youth. In Fall 2009 Bethany Cares Inc., participated in the Fugitive Safe Surrender Project-the first such site in New Jersey--where they served as a secular surrender site that assisted over 3,000 fugitives in the Essex County area. The Bethany Cares Freedom School stared in 2006 and enters its 9th year in 2014. Most recently, BCI has partnered with the Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey to become the sole trainer of adult literacy volunteers for Newark.
BCI’S JUVENILE REENTRY PROGRAM
From its launching on September 7, 2004, the mission of the Bethany Cares Juvenile Reentry program (formerly known as Bethany Uth Turn) has been to provide adjudicated youth with the tools and resources needed to make a successful transition back into their communities. With the help of local non-profits, college students, civic-minded individuals, and universities, Bethany Cares has been able to provide a safe haven for young men who desire to turn their lives around and strive for excellence in their future endeavors.
Bethany Cares aims to accomplish the goal of helping young men under the supervision of the Juvenile Justice Commission reenter their communities by aiming to provide the following: (1) academic support via Math and English tutorial, standardized testing preparation, college tours and college admittance assistance; (2) opportunities for character development through workshops, field trips and the presence of positive role models; (3) a space where young people can and feel comfortable receiving mental health support and (4) To prepare young people to become employable.
Jonathan Pollard is a former Junior Counselor with the Bethany Uth Turn program and is preparing to graduate from Essex County College and transfer to Rutgers University. “Bethany has helped me out a lot. I have learned a lot of different things. I honestly believe that Bethany is a good program helping young people get their lives together. Now I am about to complete college and I have started my career. I can honestly say that Bethany has helped me” ~ Jonathan Pollard
NEWARK SERVICE CORPS
(NSC) provides adjudicated youth with the opportunity to learn and grow in a paid internship during the summer months. NSC is the offspring of Bethany Cares’ Juvenile Reentry program. All the interns selected for NSC have participated in the year round program. The goal of NSC is develop young people, who are Juvenile Justice Commission involved, into young professionals who understand the importance of civic engagement.
The interns are required to work full time, five days a week during the summer. Four days of the week the interns are placed at extraordinary non profit community organizations. One day during the week the interns participate in professional development workshops called Development Days. Each summer, the internship concludes with a week of service in New Orleans, Louisiana.
BCI FREEDOM SCHOOL
The Freedom School project, modeled after a program by the Children’s Defense Fund, is a six-week summer program designed to serve children in communities where quality summer academic enrichment programming is rare, cost-prohibitive or non-existent. The program launched the first Newark site in 2006 at Bethany Baptist Church. Bethany Cares, Inc. services 85 scholars between the ages of 5 and 11 years old with a safe academic summer experience that will instill in them the belief that they can make a difference (the Freedom School Theme) through a focus on literacy, cultural heritage and parental involvement.
Through the Summer Freedom School experience, Bethany Cares, Inc. also provides 16 high school students from the Greater Newark area and 15 undergraduate students with a quality internship opportunity for six weeks this summer. Bethany Cares, Inc. aims to expand each young person’s knowledge of literacy and of African American and Latino authors, playwrights, poets, etc. It is also our goal to develop young people academically and socially through the Integrated Reading Curriculum. The curriculum promotes reading enrichment, youth leadership development, cultural enrichment, parent empowerment, civic engagement, and social action.
The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School project is modeled after the "Mississippi Freedom Summer Project" of 1964. The 1964 Freedom Schools, with a curriculum that focused on literacy and humanities, were structured to motivate young people to become critically engaged in their communities and to help them identify and design authentic solutions to local problems. The Freedom Schools movement was reborn in 1993 under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman and the Children's Defense Fund's Black Community Crusade for Children.