This time a year ago, DAA was raising every penny we could to enable us to open our doors. We'd been passed over by the major grants and all local foundations and banks had essentially said, "Meh, we don't know you. You are new. We don't want to risk it."
We knew that Detroit needed our school to open, needed an excellent school to raise standards city-wide, so it was SO discouraging to see door after door slam in our faces.
Then, in June of last year, I was lucky enough to be invited to chat with the Born and Raised Detroit Foundation. BARD is a group of dynamic, innovative people that are proud to have been born and raised in the Detroit area and look to support organizations that are offering current residents a similarly positive experience. Essentially, they throw (awesome) fundraisers all over the country and donate the proceeds to some really great groups in the city. I always explain, "BARD is stoked on Detroit, they are passing the stoke forward to the next generation."
In fact, BARD supports two of my favorite groups in Detroit; The Work of Art, which Mrs. McMillan wrote about here, and RacquetUp, a seriously awesome group that I will be sure to write more about soon.
Needless to say, when I explained our vision, our plan, and our goals to the BARD Board, they immediately GOT IT. They totally understood what we were trying to accomplish and why. Their first question, "Well, what do you need?" I explained that we needed to have a bus route. The kids that most needed an excellent school lived a few miles away and we had no way to get them to our school.
A week later, they called and told me that they wanted to give us a grant to cover our bus route. (What! I nearly exploded with excitement!)
So now, because of BARD, every single day, we pick up 25 of our students from two neighborhoods with miserably failing schools. I couldn't imagine our school (or my daily life) without any one of these students, and am proud to say that DAA has already removed a million obstacles on their paths toward each of their own hopes and dreams.
I ride the bus with the kids most days, we spend about 45 minutes every morning and afternoon talking about life, school, singing, etc. The other day, one little girl said, "I love my school! I love my town. Detroit is a good place, right, Ms.Kyle?"
Yep. It SURE is, Neveah.
It was a neat moment to see the BARD stoke-on-Detroit being passed on in such a clear way.
BARD believed in us early on, when really not many other people did. I think that is pretty awesome and admirable. We will spend the next decade thanking them profusely. <3
**Follow BARD and go to one of their events if you are ever around one!