First Door

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First Door is a free, on-site after school program for kids living in the Pier Park apartments cluster. Nicknamed “Homework Club” by the kids, this environment seeks to help bridge the gap in student achievement seen in low-income communities. Because of systemic injustices, we recognize that many of the kids/families living in these communities face additional obstacles that make it harder to succeed in school, and in turn, further perpetuate cycles of poverty. We want to see students break these cycles and be empowered to write their own stories.

Founded in the belief that a good education is the first door to more opportunities later in life, this program focuses on academic intervention while fostering the habits and curiosity of a life-long learner. We believe that providing extra supports in students’ home contexts will increase accessibility to the learning that is already happening in the classroom. Our mission is to strategically support students, teachers, and families with time, friendship, and resources. 

First Door began as the vision of two young women. Together they moved into the area and have now integrated into the community to help foster education and relationships with the children and their families. What began in a rented garage with a few tables and chairs now, just a few years later, operates out of a local community center right in the middle of the apartment cluster. This year alone 75 kids have participated in First Door programming and every day around 25 kids show up to grab a snack, read, and get help on their homework.

Volunteers at homework club get to know students individually – their interests, their humor, and their strengths. They read stories, solve math problems, and make art together. They listen, laugh, and sometimes cry together. They challenge students to set high standards and encourage them as they strive to meet them. It is a joy and privilege to invest in the students of this community… future leaders, teachers, artists, and engineers!

We are always looking for volunteers, especially Spanish speakers, to help at First Door. If you are interested in volunteering with First Door, please contact Luanne at lbursey@bridgetowninc.org