Michael Olive joins Circles of Support

Michael Olive joined Circles of Support as a tutor in November 2020 and has been an excellent match for our distance learners. His patience, empathy, and lived experience of struggling with traditional school settings give him a unique perspective, helping him relate to our students who are struggling with distance learning during Covid.

“A bit about myself: I have been a Minneapolis resident all my life, I love music in many forms, and have an avid love for dogs. Two of my favorite pastimes are playing video games and my guitar. Two things I pride myself on are patience and acceptance of others. And someday I hope to be accepted to and attend med school to become a family physician.

In my own experience with school, I struggled. Whether it was homework, the social atmosphere, or not having enough help to fully understand what it was that I was supposed to do in various areas of my education. It got to the point that, out of pure frustration and feelings of being hopelessly stuck and beyond the point of redemption, I dropped out of school altogether.

Thankfully, due to the love and support of my parents, friends, and close family members I was able to re-enter the world of education and successfully get my GED in November of 2019, and even begin my career in college in January of 2020.

One of the few boons of my personal experience is that I can easily sympathize with students who feel the same frustration and hopelessness that I felt when I was in their shoes. My hope is that through tutoring at Circles of Support I may be able to help someone else avoid the path I took and find happiness, success, and pride in their own education.”

– Michael Olive

Tutoring program expands with donated office space

Circles of Support’s tutoring program for SPPS distance-learning students has expanded due to the generous in-kind donation of additional office space. A big thank-you to family-law and estate-planning attorney Lori at Lukasik Law, LLC for her generosity. Our tutors and students are looking forward to expanded space for learning this upcoming week!

Please welcome our new tutor!

We’re proud to announce that Dejra Bishop recently joined the Circles of Support team as a paid tutor, thanks to funding we received from a private donor earlier this month.

Dejra is a junior at Concordia University – St. Paul, where she is majoring in psychology. She is vice president of Concordia’s Black Student Union and has worked as an information assistant for Concordia and Saint Paul Public Libraries. Her goals for the next year include working with school-aged children and obtaining an internship in school psychology.

Dejra is tutoring a fourth-grade Saint Paul Public Schools student four days per week in a Covid-compliant office space, generously subsidized by another Circles of Support benefactor. She assists her tutee with curriculum-specific questions, study skills, confidence-building and technology/connectivity challenges.

This fall, many K-12 students do not have the tools they need to succeed at distance learning, due to space and technology constraints at home, parents working outside of the home and not available to facilitate, and language barriers. If you would like to contribute to Circles of Support’s effort to establish tutor-led learning pods for low-income students, please contact us.

Tutors needed to help with distance learning

Circles of Support recently received a generous donation to fund hourly tutors to assist two of our clients’ school-aged children with distance learning. Hours are flexible and we have a private, Covid-precaution-friendly space with high-speed Internet for the tutor and students to use. The students are in 4th and 6th grade and need help with technology, curriculum-specific questions and confidence-building.
If you know of anyone who might be interested, please contact Circles of Support. A background check and references are required.

Back-to-school computers

Thank you to an anonymous donor for providing desktop computers for two of our clients with school-aged children. As we prepare for distance learning in St. Paul Public Schools, many families face barriers including access to computers and Internet. If you are upgrading to a new computer this fall, please consider donating your older device to Circles of Support.

Small business assistance

Many of our local small businesses were ordered to shut down during the early weeks and months of the pandemic. This economic hardship hit women- and POCI-owned businesses especially hard. Financial supports are available, but the early guidance about the Payroll Protection Program and expanded unemployment benefits available under the CARES Act left some self-employed and small business owners with the impression that they were not eligible to apply for assistance. Circles of Support has been actively raising awareness about eligibility requirements and assisting small businesses and self-employed individuals in our community in their efforts to apply for and obtain funding under these important programs.

If you or someone you know needs assitance navigating the PPP or unemployment benefits application processes, please contact us to be matched with a Circles of Support advocate.

Public School Meal Service During the Pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Saint Paul Public Schools and many other public school districts have continued to provide meals, books and other essentials to low-income families by converting school bus routes into meal- and book-delivery units. However, many at-risk families face mobility and scheduling issues that prevent them from taking advantage of weekly bus-stop deliveries.

Kids with Meal Boxes

Kudos to SPPS for its recent decision to provide home deliveries of meals (a school-week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches for family members ages 18 and under). In order to benefit, families need to receive these meal deliveries during the first week (week of April 20th), and confirm with the bus driver that they wish to receive further deliveries.

If you have a school-age family in your neighborhood facing mobility, connectivity or language challenges, please reach out to them to see if you can assist with receipt of these important meal benefits. Could you meet the bus with your neighbors (masked and at a safe distance) to translate their desires, receive the first meal delivery and confirm their wish for future deliveries? If your household is English-proficient and mobile, could those deliveries come directly to you, so that you can drop them at your neighbor’s home at a more opportune moment?

This unique and challenging time offers us many opportunities to help our neighbors in new, creative, and socially-distanced ways, and to surround our neighbors with circles of support.