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United Way Presents: Jackson Community Center improving math, reading and grammar skills

By Dawn Burleigh

(Editor’s Note: This is part 4 of a 21-part series on the partners of United Way of Orange County.)

Jackson Community Center’s (JCC) mission is to revitalize communities in East Orange, Texas and improve the resident’s quality of life.

The center does this by offering tutoring assistance in reading, math and grammar. Through a grant from United Way of Orange County, the organization has been able to expand to offer tutoring assistance to the youth (ages 9-16) at Anchor Educational Center after-school and during the summer months.

Anchor Educational Center is located at 1301 West Park Ave. in Orange and run by Dr. Jacqueline James.

“We also offer arts and crafts on Thursday for a fun day,” JCC Director Elizabeth Campbell said. “We concentrate on math, grammar and reading.”

There are an average of 20 kids a year participating in the program prior to the expansion with Anchor Educational Center.

“We also file taxes and before COVID, averaged just over 50 a year,” Campbell said. “This year the clientele picked up significantly due to COVID. We had 128 this year.”

She added that the skills they tutor in are needed skills for young people.

“In my experience, young people shy away from participating in their education if they are without confidence in their skills,” Campbell said. “They have to learn what they do not know so they can gain confidence.”

A person with little to no math skills can work with a small group at JCC and build their skills and confidence.

“All services are free and it is more private,” Campbell said. “There are some requirements as some of the grants require income verification.”

The target demographic they want to assist is low to moderate income.

“It starts their educational journey,” Campbell said. “If the skills are not mastered, they will struggle in school. We want intervention early enough to help build those skills. Any field you go into to earn an income requires those basic skills.”

JCC was started in 2010. Campbell said it has been a blessing to her.

“Serving younger people, and seeing them succeed has been a blessing,” Campbell said. “Where ever we can help to give the youth an opportunity to succeed.”

She added it is through the support of the board and grantors such as United Way of Orange County which helps JCC succeed in its mission.

As a teenager she was influenced by Arthur Robinson at the Arthur Robinson Center where her dream of helping the youth began.

“I left Orange and when I came back, I saw there was still a need,” Campbell said.

The center also offers a vegetable garden with the youth. The kids plant, grow and harvest the vegetables to take home and share with the community.

“Harvey took down some trees and Laura took down the rest,” Campbell said. “We are now working on how to provide shade for the garden area.”

For now, the center is making plans for its Fall garden of greens such as cabbage, kale, mustard greens and other fall vegetables.

Jackson Community Center provides supportive social service programs to the lower income communities and residents of East Orange.  They offer tutoring, a community garden, and tax preparation assistance for low-income individuals.

For more information, call 409-779-1981 or visit www.jccorange.org

To make a donation to United Way of Orange County, visit https://www.uwoctx.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1