Sometimes obstacles are placed in our lives to encourage us to make changes. Changing is difficult and tends to generate unwanted fears. Often, we hear people say, “that is how we always did it.” COVID-19 has caused all of us to make some new adjustments in our lives. Today, we live in a world of virtual workdays comprised of virtual meetings, virtual education for our children and grandchildren, virtual graduations, and virtual programs and events.
COVID-19 has meddled with how CABPES has run its after-school programs for the past 40 years. We can no longer go into a school and speak to STEM classes or hand out flyers at parent-teacher meetings or other community events. Recruiting students to participate in our after school programs has been challenging in 2020.
I discussed my frustrations with a colleague a couple of weeks ago who works in leadership in public schools. This person stated, 90% of all nonprofit organizations like CABPES face the same problem. My friend went on to tell me that students are facing Zoom fatigue. Students are not interested in participating in after-school programs in Zoom because of being in front of a computer all day. I was informed that 30% of Denver after-school programs would not survive COVID-19.
This enlightenment was a wake-up call for me. I learned that even though CABPES numbers are not where we want them to be. We are doing better than most after-school programs. I begin to reflect on the things that CABPES is doing to generate success. However, we are nowhere near our ultimate goals.
CABPES has dedicated and committed volunteers that are meeting the challenges of teaching in a virtual environment. To date, we ran successful summer online JETS and MEP programs. Our virtual Future City Competition Program is operating almost flawlessly. Our fall online Math Enrichment and SAT/ACT programs are improving daily. Our volunteers continue to generate new ideas and different ways of doing things every day in this virtual environment. Our students and volunteers are working tirelessly in IXL, a computer math software program.
CABPES increased its marketing and branding efforts one-hundredfold. We have a brand-new website that promotes all the work we do in teaching STEM to our students. CABPES elevated its grant writing efforts to overcome lost revenue from not hosting our largest fundraiser event in May 2020. We are improving our social media presence through Facebook and LinkedIn. Our quarterly newsletters, marketing brochures, program flyers, and videos are produced with a passion for presenting the excellent work that CABPES is doing in serving our students. Finally, we are writing a 3 to 5-year Development Plan to ensure our organization and its programs continue the trajectory that we are currently experiencing.
Parents and educators, if you are looking for an organization that can help your students stay on track for academic success, please contact our office. To the many companies that are looking for volunteer opportunities for your employees, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” To the numerous foundations and companies looking for organizations to invest your funds, please contact CABPES; we are the #1 STEM Program in Colorado.
Dewey F. Brigham, Jr., Ph.D.
CABPES President and Executive Director