JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Caiden Albert remembers struggling to keep up in school, both at home and in the classroom.
“My credits started going down I wasn’t passing classes,” said Albert.
It’s a path that dropped him out of school altogether. Then he heard about a Jackson organization ready to help.
“I wasn’t going to graduate at all before this. I had probably a point one chance,” said student at Rise Above Caiden Albert. “My mom found this place and I just came here and started getting my stuff together.”
It’s called Rise Above. The goal? Give kids who were suspended, expelled, or removed from school a second chance, and help them reach their full potential
“It truly is a remarkable thing and something by and large that our community didn’t think was possible,” said the Executive Director and Founder of Rise Above, Neil Fernandes. “Rise above is really just there to kind of catch them and help them recover not only academically but socially.”
Each school year around 100 students walk these halls and fill these classrooms with more than twelve thousand square feet. They get access to academic credit recovery, counseling, networking and support from teachers.
“I would say about 99 percent if you don’t build relationships with these students you are not going to have any growth with them. That is the key core to Rise Above,” said teacher Sierra Flint.
For Fernandes, it’s a personal mission. He can relate to what these kids are going through because he’s been there.
“I grew up one of these kids. I grew up in the youth system. I grew up very poor. I grew up from a very broken home.”
It’s a perspective that motivates him every day to walk alongside each student.
“That’s what we are here for. Allow us to reach down and to give you a hand up and out of the hole, but at that point, we help guide them on whatever trajectory it is they are aiming at,” said Fernandes.
Today, the word conquer is painted in the hallways.
For Caiden it’s a daily reminder of hope for what is possible when someone like Fernandes comes along ready to walk through your struggles with you.
“It just all depends on how you take it, and the way I took it is ok this can help me and my life alright let me take this information and put it in this and this situation and look where it got me. Now I’m doing this and this. Yeah, he is another father figure to me.”
Rise Above currently has an 80% success rate. It’s change that makes all the difference both here and in the community.