How out-of-school support is helping one young mom reach graduation day
Zwadie King is a teenage mom with a dream. She wants to graduate from high school, enroll at Alabama A&M University, and eventually become a medical examiner. But she knows it won’t be a cakewalk, especially with a young son.
King, who works part-time at a Detroit restaurant, is grateful for her support system, which includes the staff at Developing K.I.D.S., a nonprofit organization that began in 2006 and offers free year-round programs, after-school services and summer activities to strengthen children’s lives through prevention, family management, and community support.
King came to the program as a self-proclaimed loner with a bad attitude, but she said Developing K.I.D.S. has changed her life over the last year.
“They helped me get on my feet,” said the high school senior, who program leaders note is a gifted dancer and Academic Games champ who loves math and plays chess. “I had stopped going to school because I was just working so much. So, I was exhausted. I’m still exhausted. But I’m back in school now, and I want to graduate. That’s my main goal. I’m going to walk across that stage. I don’t want to struggle for the rest of my life.”
Developing K.I.D.S., which stands for Developing Kingdoms In Different Stages, is a founding partner of the Don Bosco Hall Community Resource Center in Detroit, a key resource in the Cody Rouge neighborhood. Through funding from a Skillman Foundation’s Community Connections Grant, and dedicated staff and volunteers, Developing K.I.D.S. is able to maintain its programming. Developing K.I.D.S. maintains after-school care at two locations in the Cody Rouge neighborhood.
“We have received at least three requests to expand to other locations,” said Kim Newberry, the founder, president, and CEO of Developing K.I.D.S. “Folks want us to come because we know how to get the kids and keep them.”
A widowed mother of three, Newberry said her home often was the after-school hangout spot for children in the neighborhood.
“There would be kids in the front yard doing hustle lessons or having tea parties on the porch with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” the former teacher recalled. “The kids had no real after-school care or couldn’t afford the fees for programs.”
Developing K.I.D.S. is one after-school program of many offered for kids ages 5-18 at Don Bosco Hall. It includes dinner and meets after school twice a week. The program offers workshops that address bullying, suicide, grief, trauma, employment readiness, and more. Developing K.I.D.S.’ 2014 summer program drew more than 120 young people five days a week.
“We have 25 young people working for us in supervised roles,” including King, Newberry said. “They complete a week and a half of training on youth development, conflict resolution, and they learn to run workshops. Even our 10-year-olds know how to be hired in four years.”
Newberry said the program’s focus on education calls for daily reading time, homework assistance, and regular report card checks. As a result, she said, the program boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for the last three years.
Total grants in 2012-2013 Youth Development:
Total grant dollars paid in 2012-2013 Youth Development:
“Many of them are closer to their DK family than a lot of their biological family,” Newberry said of the participants.
King called the staff and students at Developing K.I.D.S. “a second family.”
“Even Zyion is a DK baby,” she said of her son. “I’ve been taking him with me since he got his 3-month shots. He loves it, and they love him.
“It’s a lot to balance, but I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. Before it was like: ‘Why am I in school? I can’t. I
can’t. I can’t.’ And Ms. Kim said: ‘You can. You will.'”
And Zwadie believes.