Students Learning CrochetWhat is Bright Futures? Bright Futures is a model of support and communication that allows communities and schools to identify student needs and match those needs with existing resources in the community.

Is Bright Futures another social services program? No. In fact, the community leaders who have been a part of developing this program have worked hard to make sure it is not. Bright Futures is unique in that it does meet basic needs, but also connects families to other agencies that can provide the sustainable support they need.

How are kids' needs met? Our goal is to be the 911 of meeting a child's basic needs within 24 hours of identification of that need. We have created a rapid response system in our Donation Center, which is supported by community donations, Bright Futures Joplin Site Council Partners, and social networking.

Will parents who abuse the system take advantage of the program? We can't guarantee that won't happen from time to time. However, because the referrals come from school staff, we have been able to get a good sense of a family's true need.

If you meet a child's basic need today, what prevents that same issue from resurfacing again tomorrow? Fortunately, we don't just stop at meeting that child's basic need. We ask the right questions so we can get a clear picture of the underlying issues that created the situation resulting in our student's needs not being met. Then we can refer the family to the correct agency.

So many of these kids come from difficult situations, how do you prevent the draining of community resources? The Bright Futures Joplin effort has energized the community and has uncovered new resources that didn't previously exist. As one principal put it, "Money can't buy what our kids need." This is so true. What these kids need is relationships…and lots of them. Community members are stepping up to serve as positive role models for our kids in a variety of capacities.

Coloring supplies

How do you sustain such a massive initiative? First, we shine a light on the challenges and 

opportunities in our schools on a regular basis. This is crucial from a sustainability standpoint. Additionally, we work to identify and provide solutions to those problems in order to help students have a healthy and productive educational career.

How can I get involved? Contact Amanda Stone with Joplin Schools at 417-625-5200 ext. 2031.  You can also become a volunteer or donor.