The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 23, 2014

State considers expansion of Bright Futures

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As it seeks to expand in communities across Missouri, a Joplin-area program aimed at helping meet the needs of low-income students is asking the state for new funding.

Bright Futures USA — founded in Joplin schools in 2010 — has programs in 13 school districts, and it expects to be in 26 districts by the beginning of the next school year. This year, the group is seeking $200,000 from the state to fund its expansion, including establishing programs in the struggling Kansas City and St. Louis regions.

Anthony Rossetti, superintendent of the Webb City School District, traveled to Jefferson City last week along with Assistant Superintendent Kevin Cooper to meet with lawmakers to tout the program, which Webb City implemented at the beginning of the 2011 school year.

“If I were to paint a picture of it, I think what we have managed to do with our system is set up a network that can meet the needs of kids and involve the community in a much more rapid response rate than what we had been doing,” Rossetti said.

In Webb City, the program has aimed to meet personal needs for students, such as providing a coat to a student in the winter or helping a homeless student pay for the costs associated with a dual credit course. The program aims to address broader needs, too, such as getting together a group of dads to greet students with a high-five or a handshake while they enter their school building. In another instance, the program helped pay for clothes for a pair of students at Webb City Junior High School when their house burned last month.

“It’s really the community wrapping their arms around the needs,” Rossetti said. “When you can bring your faith-based community, business community and school district together, it is pretty powerful.”

The point of the program, supporters say, is that it can take different shapes in different communities with different needs. School districts are given a framework — at a cost of $2,500 — that they can take and apply in their own ways.

“Because the human condition is so unique, you can’t do one thing for everyone,” Rossetti said. “But we’ve got a task force that can come in and help when there is a need.”

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