Back to School in “One Classroom”
“Inclusion” is defined as the state of being included or being made a part of something. Thanks to One Classroom, children with physical or intellectual disabilities are now educated in the general classroom of many Catholic schools in the St. Louis area. Rather than being segregated from their age peers, students’ individualized needs are addressed in the classroom as they work toward their individual potential.
Research demonstrates that children educated in inclusive environments achieve higher academic gains and more success after high school than those educated in separate classrooms. But clearly specialized training and resources are needed. That’s where One Classroom comes in. According to Anthony Armitage, Director and Founder, the independent nature of Catholic schools can make it harder to identify and correct systemic issues. But with One Classroom providing advice and access to resources as well as funding for training, materials, tools, and the hiring of para-professionals, multiple parish schools are successfully including children with special needs.
When the Armitage family wanted their child with special needs to be educated in their local Catholic school, they found there was much work to be done. After a significant amount of research, they founded One Classroom in 2015 and commenced their mission of building awareness and promoting inclusive Catholic education, supporting parish schools, connecting families, and building a community. Obviously, funds are needed. And that’s where YouthBridge comes in.
“YouthBridge is very well known in the philanthropic St. Louis community so I reached out to see if we could work together,” says Armitage. YouthBridge CEO Barbara Carswell recognized the shared goals between the two organizations and ultimately introduced a YouthBridge donor to One Classroom. This donor has become a major contributor over the years, in one of the best possible ways. While some donations are restricted to specific parish schools or to particular materials or tools, this donor’s funds are focused on capacity building, allowing One Classroom to develop internal resources to round out what they want to accomplish.
One example is the funding for an advocacy project to review proportionate share dollars to SSD (Special School Districts). The project revealed that students were not being counted correctly and resulted in increased funding of about $1.8 million dollars! The funding increase affected schools throughout Missouri and could not have been possible without this supporter’s generous capacity gift. His insight and business savvy have become instrumental in the growth of One Classroom.
Armitage summed it up by saying, “YouthBridge’s experience helping philanthropists find causes that align with their own goals is invaluable. It would have taken us years and years to get where we are today.” Perhaps we can agree it was literally a match made in Heaven!
YouthBridge connects donors with community needs. If you are interested in learning more about how we can make charitable giving easier for you, please contact Michele Mosley.