Black History Month: Good Neighbors

As we continue to recognize Black History Month by honoring those that have exemplified Black Excellence, this week’s focus is on our commitment to the communities we serve. Through Republic Services Charitable Foundation and our National Neighborhood Promise program, we support neighborhood revitalization efforts across the country.

Spotlight: Rebuilding Together St. Louis and Lift For Life Academy – “As long as poverty, injustice & inequality persist, none of us can truly rest.”

One of the ways Rebuilding Together creates stronger impact in our communities is by providing essential repairs to local businesses and nonprofit organizations. One of those is the Lift For Life Academy in St. Louis, MO.

In 2000, Lift For Life Academy, opened as the city of St. Louis’ first charter school. Their vision is to equip students who are at risk of dropping out of school with the knowledge, tools and confidence to become responsible and engaged young adults. They currently have 700 students enrolled in grades K-2 and 6-12, learning and preparing for life as engaged citizens contributing to their community.

Lift For Life Academy provides extra services required to help students achieve academic success and graduate prepared for post-secondary learning. Small classrooms, an extended school year and trauma-informed services help the students thrive while enrolled at Lift for Life Academy and has allowed the school to maintain a 94% graduation rate since the first graduating class of 2012.

The Academy was tremendously affected by COVID-19. As coronavirus cases in Missouri soared, the Mayor of St. Louis shut down schools, businesses, nonprofit centers, etc. to try to stop the transmission of COVID-19. Cancelling in-person classes was especially difficult for Lift For Life Academy students, as they need more time with teachers and often face challenges in their home life. In addition, the students lost the support services provided through social workers, counselors and community partners that met their health and well-being needs. When their education moved to remote learning in March of last year, the school learned that 50% of their students lacked internet access or availability of technology at home, creating even more challenges that the school needed to address without identified funding. Most students are behind in literacy, math and other subjects requiring a high level of one-on-one contact from teachers to avoid putting them at risk of falling further behind.

As students return to school to be in an environment that won’t slow their learning and will be better suited to their daily life, it is imperative to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with Rebuilding Together St. Louis, Republic Services is making improvements to the school that will keep students safe as they continue to learn and prepare for the future. One of those key repairs is a new heating and cooling system that not only will keep students comfortable throughout the year but will also filter air and reduce health risks associated with airborne transmitted diseases. Together, we can build a better future for our country’s youth and that starts with creating spaces where every child can safely learn.

Check out the School’s mission here.  They are the first independent charter middle school to open in the City of St. Louis and do amazing work. More than 85% of Lift for Life students qualify for the Federal government's free and reduced cost lunch program and most would be considered to be living in poverty. Lift For Life Academy does not serve one specific neighborhood; their students come from all over St. Louis City, 49% from North City and 31% from South City, both considered low income communities.

Click here to learn more about our national nonprofit partner, Rebuilding Together, and the critical work they do in minority communities throughout the country.