Legacy Children’s Foundation
Mary Jean Dehne
What happens to discouraged teens, struggling in school, and lacking family resources to thrive?
In the Legacy Children’s Foundation (LCF), they graduate, serve their Fargo community, and become productive citizens!
LCF started by a group of low-income, diverse teens in 2011 passionately claimed their futures by putting an end to the road as potential dropouts. Eleven students and their teacher drafted the innovative model to transform their mindset and develop after-school resources so at-risk teens could graduate. Creating a “school is our job” attitude, students poured the footings for an incentive-based system of expectations and rewards for students to learn, work hard, and engage in relational service-learning projects.
Serving the least, the lost, and the lonely with food and fellowship cements the Pay It Forward passion of students who sincerely desire a chance to belong and feel valued. Giving-back fills this void for them. LCF builds relationships between disengaged youth and university students who are studying to become secondary teachers. Sitting side by side, four days a week, teaching and learning in this model creates impressive outcomes. Education, opportunities, and relationships are the cornerstones to LCF – the youth developed after-school resource for nearly 100 motivated students who are flocking to LCF for a chance to change their futures.
The outcome for the student is a high school diploma, a confident, generous mindset, and leadership skills to create, collaborate, and critically solve the challenges they face (92% graduation rate). Prospective teachers master interventions, alongside classroom and behavior management skills not found in a university class. The payoff for the community is a self-reliant, educated leader who contributes to the growth and well-being of their community. The investment in educating disadvantaged students using the ground-breaking, proven model of the Legacy Children’s Foundation is unprecedented and inspiring!