C2K Ministries (C2K) has been working with the youth in Mound Bayou as an organization since 2012, but its origin goes back further with events that could only have been orchestrated by the Lord. Phil and Kym Schank (pictured below) have worked with kids for almost 20 years through mentoring and tutoring. Initially, their work was concentrated in the Wisconsin area where they are from, a much more suburban, wealthy, and white area than the rural Mississippi town with which they both would eventually fall in love. Kym would be the first to develop feelings for Mound Bayou through volunteer work she did through her church. Phil started to visit Mississippi with her and the dream to work in and impact that community began taking root.
I got a chance to speak with Phil recently to see how things were going with C2K.
Ryan Weary: How are you doing today?
Phil Schank: I’m doing well.
RW: How have things been going at C2K?
PS: They have been going well. Right now, we are serving 20 kids. We are excited about Re>Direct (the afterschool program) and for the reading program software Fast ForWord that we have on our computers now. We just got it this year, but it has already had a big impact on the students. Three (3) out of the 20 students have increased their reading comprehension levels by two grades, fourteen (14) of the students have increased their levels by one grade and the remaining three (3) have increased their grade by half a grade. I am also excited about our staff; it’s been great. Things are going well.
RW: That is wonderful, Phil! For those who may not know, could you give me a breakdown of what goes on and who helps out at C2K?
PS: Sure. Our staff starts with Megan Munro, our Program Director. She oversees the program every day from top to bottom and handles the scheduling for all activities. Next is Linda Dorsey, our Family and Child Coach. She counsels the children on things like bullying and anything else that the children deal with that affect[s] their lives. Once a month, she meets with the children’s parents. We also have three (3) mentor specialists, Loise Fields-Fipps, LaTonya Fields and Brenda Jackson, who help out four (4) days a week to be a consistent presence in the children’s lives.
On any given day, the students have Fast ForWord (reading comprehension computer activity), a healthy snack, Bible time, rocket math (a math assessment activity to help keep track of student progression), homework time, an art activity, and/or a STEM activity.
Arts and music have a way of expanding creativity in the mind of a child. We have partnered with the Delta Arts Alliance for about two (2) years to help us with that goal in mind. We are in the process of working on a music aspect to our program. The Grammy Museum in Cleveland, MS, is including us as part of a pilot program they want to implement.
Beyond that, we have volunteers that help us from local colleges through Reformed University Fellowship, and the fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha and the Pikes.
RW: Wow! The students are definitely blessed to be in your program. What are some of the programs or opportunities that you guys are involved in outside of the classroom in Re>Direct?
PS: For our outside of the program experience, we make everything that we do incentive-based. For instance, we have a “money management” program called Re>Direct dollars. Students earn “dollars” for behavior, grades, participation, and etc. They have to balance out their “checkbooks” and make a deposit each week.
We have a store that opens every week where they can buy items from it. They have to write “checks” and balance their books in order to buy anything. It teaches them basic financial principles. In the store itself, there are “certificates” that they can buy for field trips (such as the one shown on the left). There is a price attached to it, and they get to bring a friend if they purchase one. We want them to understand the value of something and let them make decisions based on those values. We have taken them on group trips as well, but they still have to buy a certificate for that type of trip. There is an attainable amount that they have to raise. The importance is on creating incentives for them.
RW: Indeed. I really like that angle with having field trips with tangible values. With all the awesome things happening there, has the ministry dealt with any issues lately?
PS: The only two issues we have had are needing to have better communication with the parents and a need to expand to accommodate our students. Although we remind our parents that we need to be informed if they change a phone number, sometimes it can still fall through the cracks. More often than not, this leads to other issues.
We also have a waiting list of 15 students. A lot of families would love to have their children in the program; at the moment, we just don’t have the space right now to serve all of the students.
RW: That’s understandable. What are some of the dreams that you have for the kids, for the program as a whole, and for the community?
PS: That 100% of the students that come through the programs will grow up to be solid, productive Christians in the community. The dream is that they would be mentors and take those principles on throughout the rest of their lives.
We also would like to get some land and create a youth center so that we can expand the program and increase the capacity.
RW: We pray those dreams will become reality. What continues to drive you in your work with C2K?
PS: The drive comes from seeing a lot of social inequality. That’s not how God designed it and we are called to do something about it. Every one of these kids deserves opportunities.
RW: Amen. What can we pray with you for?
PS: Pray that we continue to hear well what God is saying, follow it, and for property to be able to expand and accommodate the waiting list we have.