It is a privilege to serve our Lord by loving and equipping the youth and families of East Palo Alto. Our community is facing yet another inflection point as it responds to the wave of growth and the effects of gentrification impacting many neighborhoods in the Silicon Valley. During this time of transition, we remain committed to offering a holistic program centered in helping our youth experience God’s love, mercy and grace; a program that provides our students with academic support and enrichment to strengthen their educational foundation; a program where they discover their many gifts and can apply them to grow their leadership skills. In an effort to address emerging community needs, we are excited to release our updated strategic plan. After much time in prayer and processing the many conversations we had with our community stakeholders, we have narrowed our strategic priorities to four areas that will continue to enhance the way we serve our youth.
The priorities for the next three years will be as follows:
Expand holistic programming to include a mental health focus
As we listened to our parents, school administrators, staff and students, it was quite apparent that the stress level many of our students are experiencing is as high as when the community was plagued by violence. The effects of unstable housing and crippling economic challenges are taking a toll on the well-being of many of our students. We realized we are not properly equipped to address the tough issues that students are sharing with us.
As we launch this year’s programs, we are beginning to identify local resources to which we can refer our families and are training our staff and volunteers in mental health first aid. Over this coming season, one of our goals is to identify ways that programs can continue to provide safe spaces for appropriate conversations around mental health.
Expand outreach through Bible Clubs
Over the last four years we have worked at widening our middle school programs, which have more than doubled in that time, and have redesigned our high school fellowship, now launching its third cohort. Given our successful summer outreach through the offering of Vacation Bible Schools throughout our community, we would love to grow the network of Bible Clubs that are hosted throughout the city. Our desire is to support and equip a new generation of local leaders and hosts who can share the Gospel and disciple a small group of elementary age students. I envision a time when a child may have accepted Christ during a VBS in the summer and then have a Bible Club within walking distance they could attend throughout the year. Over the next three years, our goal is to launch 1-2 new clubs each year as well as additional VBS sites.
Actively offer our facility and resources to gather community
One of the themes that often emerged in our planning process was BCM’s rootedness in East Palo Alto. Having the privilege to serve our community for over 34 years brings the responsibility to lead difficult conversations and the opportunity for further engagement, particularly with new neighbors. This priority will take shape in many different ways that provide varied opportunities of engagement. In collaboration with other organizations, we
are expanding our STEAM programming to launch a competing high school robotics team as well as a late-night study hall for local college students. Over the course of the next few years, we are also looking to increase the number of volunteers that call this community their home as well as host worship and prayer events that celebrate the diversity of our community.
Increase awareness of and engagement with our cause
Another emerging theme throughout our planning process was BCM’s role as a bridge builder with neighboring communities. As we expand our partner engagement strategy, we hope to deepen the relationships with our church partners. We are looking to increase our efforts in presenting and leading conversations around social justice issues that most affect our families. Our goal is to increase the number of volunteers and donors invested in our community as we share the many opportunities for service found at BCM and other EPA ministries.
We are thankful for God’s direction in the coming season and invite you to join us in this effort to share His Love and to help our youth grow. If you would like to review the summary presentation, please download here. If you would like to discuss any of these priorities further or to chat about ways you would like to get involved, you are welcome to attend our Strategic Plan unveiling on October 3rd at 6:30pm or feel free to contact me directly.
In this drawing from one of our strategic plan committee members, BCM is imagined as a bridge between community members.
In this drawing from one of our strategic plan committee members, BCM is imagined as facilitator of community organizing.
Loving Our Community
In this drawing from one of our strategic plan committee members, BCM is imagined wrapping its arms around the EPA; doing all we possibly can to love and support our community.