St. Louis Elks Lodge #9 and Lift for Life Academy held it’s second Impact Grant partnership with it’s Career Day focusing on promising careers in the Construction skilled Trades.  Members from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1, St. Louis Painting & Decorating Foundation, and St. Louis Carpenters Apprenticeship Program spoke with more than 50 high school students.  Approximately 30 of these students will now visit two construction sites to learn more about the construction industry.


The SOAR Program: Lifting At-Risk High Schoolers to New Heights

Identify the local community need your project will address. Lift for Life Academy is a K-12 Charter school in the City of St. Louis and its curriculum is designed to provide students most at risk for academic difficulties with a solid foundation to be successful in their chosen pursuits. Here’s the problems: • Most of the kids only know what life is like in a 5-10 block area (their neighborhood) so a big 1st step is getting them into this school which starts to broaden their geographic horizons. • The average ACT score at the high school is barely above 18. In fact, they celebrate the kids who achieve a 21 or higher. So, most of the kids won’t get into or be able to afford a 4-year college. • To be eligible to enter the school, the family household income must be below $20,449. • The average expense per student at the academy is $13,701. In short, these kids don’t have much of a bright future ahead.

Describe your Lodge’s project. How will the Elks address this community need? If the Lodge has a partner in this project, we want to know exactly what the Elks will do, and not what the partner organization will do. The school’s “SOAR (Student Ownership, Autonomy and Relevance) Program” is currently only an “exposure” program wherein professionals in various skilled trades come in and talk with students about careers in that profession. This is all funded by the school, and they have no other partners in the program. Our project will extend the impact for students by creating a much broader program that would include 3 legs of the stool to teach the students things like leadership, character, entrepreneurship, and diversity (getting them out of that 5-10 block neighborhood) The program would consist of three stages and would focus on specific types of career trades: • Phase I – Introduction to various trades which would include: o Individual Construction Trades (Carpentry, Electrician, Heavy Equipment Operator, etc) o Healthcare Trades which only require an associate degree (Radiology technician, Ultrasound Tech, etc.) o Airline Pilot o Media & Design (AV Tech, Graphic Design, Photography/Videography, etc) o Barber & Styling o Military • Phase II – Internship/Apprenticeship Phase – Once students have identified areas of career interest, we would then get the students in the field with professionals based on those interests to shadow professionals in that industry. o Phase III – Mentorship Phase. Our lodge would partner on a monthly basis to mentor these kids in those fields and work to find scholarships/grants for these specific trades. As part of the mentorship and life skills programs we would also concentrate on important things like leadership development, entrepreneurship, character, money management, etc.

How did the Lodge come up with this project idea? What kind of research did the Lodge conduct? Has the Lodge had any experience addressing this problem in the past?Our lodge looked at our membership growth, membership strengths and involvement in our community. We know there is a need to help at-risk youth through members who are currently involvement with Lift for Life Academy on a volunteer basis. Those members recommended our grant committee reach out and explore opportunities for St. Louis Lodge #9 as a whole. It was quickly determined the SOAR Program is missing key components that our lodge can add. We conducted face-to-face meetings with Lodge #9 members who grew up in the urban environment as the students who gave us further insight into the challenges at-risk urban high schoolers face. Our lodge has not had any experience addressing this problem in the past.

Proposed Goals & Objectives

Goal #1 – Expose high school students at Lift for Life Academy who are at-risk for academic difficulties to potential career fields not requiring a 4-year degree.i. Phase I – Introduction to various skilled trades ii. Phase II – Internship/Apprenticeship Phase. Experiential Learning iii. Phase III – Mentorship Phase where our lodge would partner on a monthly basis to mentor these kids in those fields and find scholarships for these specific trades.

Goal #2 – Create an atmosphere of inspiration, community involvement, and growth for students. Allow students to be exposed to other lifestyles other than the 5-10 block area they know and live in. ii. Allow professionals to get to know these kids as real people with real talent iii. Have a waiting list of students wanting to get into the program.

Goal #3 – Provide Leadership, Character Development, Life Skills, Personal Money Management through an additional mentorship program.i. In addition to skilled trade mentorship this program should offering St. Louis high risk students the support, structure, and exposure they need to envision a promising future after high school graduation. ii. This program should provide intangible skills mentioned above. iii. This program should develop the next generation of mentors for their community.

At the end of the year, how will you know the project has helped the problem identified in your project description? We will have access to data collected by the school, local skilled trades and Lodge #9 members as to the number of graduating seniors placed in internships/apprenticeships. We will also have data as to the number of juniors and sophomores who are signed up for the program for the following years.

What data will you collect to show how the project has helped? (CIP Tip: provide examples beyond number of people served and beyond smiles on faces.)- Student attendance (comparing SOAR vs. non SOAR students) – Student engagement (based on observational data in SOAR vs. non SOAR classes) – Student responsibility (percent of students turning work on time, meeting deadlines etc) – Student grades (comparing SOAR vs. non SOAR students).

This is an opportunity to raise your Lodge’s profile and inspire new members to join. How do you plan to promote this as an Elks-led project? Individual members will be the mentors o Several members own Public Relations and Digital Marketing firms who have established relationships with local media. o School social media, lodge social media, district social media, state social media o Other social media – Next Door app.

Application submitted by Jane Schnettler October 21, 2021 3:39 PM.