By The Hand Club For Kids, formerly known as Kids’ Club, is an after school program that was established in 2001 by Donnita Travis. Travis founded the after school program, which extends the school day by about four hours and offers help with homework and one-on-one reading instruction. "The mission of By The Hand Club is just like our name says. It is to take kids by the hand and to walk with them from first grade all the way through college," Travis said. The non-profit organization started out in the Cabrini Green area, serving sixteen children. It has since branched out to the Austin community, Englewood, and Altgeld Gardens. The Austin campus is located at 500 N. Laramie, Chicago, IL, which is also my home church. By The Hand uses our church building to accommodate over 250 children. By The Hand Club for Kids now serves 851 students and has a waiting list. It is primarily funded through private donation.
By the Hand is stationed in the heart of a broken culture. The neighborhoods are ghetto areas with low income families and run-down buildings. Active fathers are not very common in any of the neighborhoods where By the Hand Clubs are stationed. It is VERY rare for families to consist of the biological mother and biological father in the same home as the child. These neighborhoods are filled with drugs, violence, gang activity, police brutality, and racism. By the Hand represents a Safe Haven for the children, a safe environment that represents a clean, loving, genuine, and Godly culture. And slowly this culture is having an impact on the neighborhoods around it.
Some benefits of this club being in the culture that it is in are the major recognition that it receives, the satisfaction of keeping children off of the streets, and the opportunities for witnessing about Christ. By the Hand is a unique program that you don’t often see in communities like these, so it draws more attention to the program. Children in Chicago get sucked into lifestyles of crime and violence, having By the Hand provides a place where children can stay on the right path. Environments like these are where people need God the most. Witnessing to the children and even their families can help expand the club as well as the kingdom of God.
The impact that this club has had and is having can be credited to God and also the governance. The governing board consists of nine board members, Tom Sawyer, Chairman; Attorney (Retired), Carol Simpson, Vice Chairman; Attorney, Carol Simpson Law Offices; John Creswell, Treasurer, Managing Director and Co-Director, Fixed Income, Nuveen Investments; John Searls, Secretary and President, Providence Charities; Julius Wilson, Assistant Secretary and Manager, Avaya (Retired); Christine Parker, Attorney for IBM Corporation; William Price, Chairman of CBC Companies, and Mark Sauer, Vice President of eloyalty Corporation. Next is the founder, Donnita Travis, who works among the staff, Sarah James, Director of By The Hand—Cabrini Green; Bethany Arvan, Director of BTH Club For Big Kids; Ed Johnson, Director of By The Hand—Altgeld-Murray; Dara Johnson, Director of By The Hand—Austin; Al Green, Director of By The Hand—Englewood; Franklin Ballenger, Director of Volunteer Development, and Susannah Schwarcz, Director of Fund Development.
Some governance strengths are that there are very powerful people with powerful voices on the governing board. A lot of the members of the board have a great impact and influence on the cities that By...