A local, student-led nonprofit organization is helping young refugees find a new and better life. JaxTHRIVE is welcoming refugee children to America through tutoring and mentoring.
Founded in 2017 as a one-on-one, in-person Saturday learning program, the organization transitioned to virtual tutoring with the emergence of COVID-19. Although anxious to get back to in-person tutoring, JaxTHRIVE found that by offering a virtual option, it could engage volunteers and refugee students from all over the world.
The charity partners with Lutheran Social Services, Kim’s Open Door and other organizations in the refugee resettlement arena to make a difference. Most recently, it announced a new partnership in Miami with the Refugee Assistance Alliance.
JaxTHRIVE boasts a current virtual enrollment of 25 students but expects that number to increase as more Afghanistan Special Immigrant Visa refugees are resettled into the United States.
JaxTHRIVE’s Leadership Council is led by co-presidents Hope Freedman and Alexis Magnano who work to bring together a group of talented and diverse individuals to engage their community, show leadership, and work together to spread their mission. The nonprofit offers comprehensive services, including SAT/ACT test preparation, financial literary boot camps and college admission strategies in addition to academic tutoring. Its goal is to help students advance in the classroom and flourish in the community.
COVID-19 has not stopped JaxTHRIVE from pursuing its goals. The organization launched various special service projects such as “Holiday in a Bucket” to offer its volunteers additional ways to contribute. Volunteers were matched with either newly arrived families from Afghanistan or foster children from Jewish Family Services. Buckets were decorated and filled with gift items and homemade treats for the families to share. Girl Scout Troop 27 helped by hosting a clothing drive. The clothes were handed out along with the buckets.
Many of the Afghan families in Jacksonville were given special status because they risked their lives to help our U.S. soldiers.
In November, with funds awarded from the America’s Promise Power of Youth Award, JaxTHRIVE partnered with Lutheran Social Services and with the refugee students for lunch in the park and a trip to the Cummer Museum.
JaxTHRIVE was recently awarded a grant through the Whole Foods Market Community Giving Program, which aims to support the local community, so they partnered with Lutheran once again to coordinate a field trip to visit Sweet Pete’s, the largest candy store in the Southeast United States. A master candymaker led the teens in a candy cane workshop and, afterwards, they were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the candy factory.
JaxTHRIVE volunteers have also been helping to set up new apartments for the families coming from Afghanistan.
On Jan. 29, JaxTHRIVE is planning a winter festival to celebrate the relaunch of the in-person tutoring program in partnership with Kim’s Open Door, though it will continue to offer virtual tutoring.
To learn more, go to jaxthrive.net.