Paris Swegan, Afterschool Program Specialist
The first word that comes to mind when I try to sum up the first week of program for this school year is, JOY! It was so special to be back on our campuses to welcome new and old faces of both students and crew leaders.
I have been encouraged and excited about the many new Afterschool Teachers that have joined our program this fall. Each of them has brought a new energy and vision to their classrooms that feels fun and safe for our students. I’ve watched them learn how to guide their students through each part of the day, and find out how to adjust and grow with their class along the way. It is so exciting to see their students actively participating and engaging with the curriculum all because of how their teacher is finding creative and fun ways to implement each activity.
We are also blessed by a wonderful group of Site Coordinators this year, who have worked tirelessly to create a campus of learning, love and spirit! It has been so fun to see them take on a leadership role to encourage and assist students and Afterschool Teachers in following the path of Jesus....more
Mary Katherine Prehn
Christie Kim, our 2016 Social Media and Marketing intern is back to serve as our Volunteer Specialist!
After living in Michigan for 8 years, Christie, her husband, and Hamilton, their Australian Shepherd decided to return to Austin (and its heat) this past June, excited for a new city to explore.
Christie enjoyed creating content in the media realm, but is ready for her new role helping volunteers. “I love SBSK because I feel like the team is super united,” Christie notes, “there is a high level of respect for each other and the work they do”.
When asked about what she learned from her internship experience Christie emphasized the team’s “huge desire to impact the community”. Christie is looking forward to meeting all the volunteers in September and to build relationships with them and our kids. “I hope I can lend support wherever I’m needed”.
Click here to read Christie’s 2016 blog post on her...more
Mary Katherine Prehn
We are so grateful for those who serve with us whether they’re short term volunteers, Afterschool Teachers, or members of our program staff. This summer, Carlos Vargas joined our team as Afterschool Program Coordinator and we’re excited to introduce you to him!
Born and raised in the Dallas area, Carlos attended UT Arlington before transferring to UT Austin where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. After getting comfortable with the tech hub that is Austin, he desired to find more passion in the world of operations.
Carlos is a sports lover. He plays on Austin’s ultimate frisbee team, Austin Sol. Through his interest in sports, Carlos knew he was interested in the way the human body works. “I like solving puzzles and I realized that the human body is a huge one,” Carlos says on his transition into Physical Therapy.
Carlos found his passion for working with kids through his friendship and caretaker role of a 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. “We would have a good time, but we would challenge each other, I would hold him accountable.” Although he...more
Mary Katherine Prehn
We’re so thankful for our partners at Still Water Camp, who provided three of our students with the opportunity to spend four days, fully-funded at their Christian sports camp in Blanco, TX.
The four days of summer camp provided our students with a chance to explore outside the city and their own comfort zone. The camp offers physical outlets through volleyball, soccer, and other field sports, but also teaches lessons on leadership and the gospel.
Our Program Director, Michelle, was happy to hear that the kids had such positive experiences that they were eager to share when they returned to Austin. “They expressed so much gratitude for the chance to go and were very enthusiastic when they were asked about it”.more
Mary Katherine Prehn
A study by Brookings Education concludes that “on average, students’ achievement scores decline over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-learning”. In addition, students in grades 2 through 9 lose about 25-30 percent of their school-year learning.
When asked about the main goal of Summer Scholars, Piccola, our Volunteer Coordinator, had a difficult time thinking of just one, but settled on the importance of offering summer education. “A lot of communities don’t have access to summer reading or things along those lines through their school. We’re really trying to offer our students the chance to keep up with what they have learned so they can go back to school and confidentently progress to the next level”.
The week long curriculum of Summer Scholars gives the kids in the community a chance to review what they have learned from the past school year while also sticking with lessons to prepare them for their next grade level. Each day, students are taught lessons from...more
Mary Katherine Prehn
“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me” John 15:15
Last week we kicked off our first Summer Club Fun of the summer! These Thursdays are a great opportunity for the kids in our community to channel their energy in a fun and educational way.
During the Summer Club Fun “Friendship Fiesta,” our students not only learned how to be trustworthy friends, but also how to trust in God.
While reading the story of Moses, we saw that, even though Moses was chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he had doubts that he was right for the job. Still, despite his fear, he accepted this calling. In response to his faithfulness, God placed Aaron in Moses’ life to be a friend that would guide...more
Our wonderful Oak Hill Site Coordinator, Devin Miranda, took the time to tell us about her role at Side by Side Kids and her own relationship with Christ.
When did you begin following Christ?
My parents shared who God was with me at a young age, and I have believed in Him as long as I can remember, but high school was when I truly began to follow Christ. My life has truly been transformed! I think for so many people, there are seasons of push and pull with our relationship with God, and thankfully, His love and dedication towards us is not determinant of the love and dedication we give Him. I’m thankful that He is a God of great love and patience, which is why I think Side by Side Kids is so important. We teach our kids that there is a God who loves them and who is patient with them when they make mistakes. They learn that God wants the best for them in life and is there for them. I’ve seen the difference that affirmation has made in the lives of our students and their families.
Why did you want to work at SBSK?
At the beginning of the semester, our Afterschool Teachers were presented with a challenge: to recruit their friends to apply for a position at Side by Side Kids. With each friend we ended up hiring, they would win a gift card.
Ever up to the challenge, Anna-Claire Taylor, an Afterschool Teacher at our Brown/Barrington campus, decided to share this job opportunity with two of her friends, Kendrah and Emily.
“Anna-Claire told me how much she loved Side by Side Kids and how much she enjoyed doing ministry with the program,” recalls Kendrah. “I also have a heart for ministry and children, so I applied!”
Eventually, both Kendrah and Emily applied to be Afterschool Teachers with Side by Side Kids... And they were both hired!more
At Side by Side Kids, our goal is to help our students gain a deeper understanding of biblical character traits to empower them to grow in Godly character. This is why our weekly curriculum typically centers around a "Word of The Week" like confidence, self-discipline and perseverance.
This week, however, was a little different.
Instead of curriculum centered around a character trait, the theme for this week's program was Arts Week. While the theme in itself is unique, the best part about Arts Week is that each Site Coordinator has the freedom to develop their own curriculum to teach their campus.more
Are you passionate about teaching kids in high-needs communities? Do you want to see the lives of kids transformed under your leadership? Side by Side Kids might be the perfect fit for you!
Year-round, Side by Side Kids looks for servant leaders to staff its afterschool program. We currently have various job opportunities available and we think you could be the perfect candidate.
Come check out our Side by Side Kids Job Fair on Friday, February 2, 2018!
You are welcome to come to either of our two sessions -
- Session One: 10 AM - 12 PM
- Session Two: 12 PM - 2 PM
During this time, you'll have the chance to learn more about SBSK, apply for a position, and interview on the spot. Come with an updated resume and three references and you could have the potential to walk away with a job - a job that will make a difference and impact lives!
Ready to get started?
We want to introduce you to the incredible women that make up our SBSK team. Our Site Coordinators are the heart behind what we do and we wouldn’t be able to encourage hearts and inspire minds without them leading the way.
This week, we’re introducing you to Liz Mitchell, our Site Coordinator at Mollie Barrington Elementary! Here's Liz to tell you more about her story!
I’m from Round Rock, Texas (just north of Austin). I was born here, grew up here and then went to school here at UT Austin, so I’ve basically spent my whole life in the Austin area. Right before Side by Side Kids, I completed an 8 month long leadership and discipleship training program in Tyler, Texas called the Forge. There I had theology training, lived in community with 27 other Forge students, and went on several trips including one to Israel last spring.
I decided to work at Side by Side Kids because I believe in the life-changing ministry that we have the privilege to take part in every day. Every day we teach kids about the gospel, we get to know each...more
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
My hope is that, as you are reading this, you are in a blissful food coma, steadily recovering from a joy-filled day spent with family and friends. More so, I hope that you’ve had time during this holiday season to reflect on all there is to be thankful for!
I’ll be the first to admit that, when I’m so wrapped up in busyness, it’s easier to view everything as ordinary and mundane. That’s why today is so special - it allows me to pause and give praises of thanksgiving to God for ALL of the ways - big and small - he’s moved this year.
As you can imagine, there are so many things to be thankful for this year at Side by Side Kids. These are just some of the main ones I want to share with you all, so we can join together in celebration!
We're thankful for our new campuses!
"And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women." Acts 5:14
When I started at Side by Side Kids in 2016, my school, Webb...more
We want to introduce you to the incredible women that make up our SBSK team. Our Site Coordinators are the heart behind what we do and we wouldn’t be able to encourage hearts and inspire minds without them leading the way.
This week, we’re introducing you to Brittney Alston, our Site Coordinator at J.J. Pickle Elementary! Here's Britney to tell you more about her story!
I grew up in California, attended college in Alaska and relocated to Texas from there. I’ve lived in Austin for just over 2 years now! I wanted to work somewhere where my faith could play a central role in what I do and was so excited when I came across Side by Side Kids because serving God is at the heart of this organization.
One of my favorite parts is getting to know every single kid that joins our program! There are so many colorful, sweet, and silly personalities. I’ve enjoyed seeing their enthusiasm for learning more about God and seeing the bond they form with their crew leaders.
I think ours is a unique organization because it is rooted in prayer. It’s so powerful...more
On Saturday, October 28th Side by Side Kids hosted our annual Triple C fundraising event! It was a wonderful evening at Abel’s on the Lake that was filled with delicious food, live music, great conversation, and a good cause.
The evening began with setup. We hung photos of each campus, set up a fun photo booth, prepared donation cards for each seat, and most importantly, we prayed together. As we prepped the venue, I became more and more excited for the evening ahead.
I was filled with gratitude for the opportunity to share the ways our students have overcome various obstacles and have touched my own heart. I couldn’t wait to share their stories of difficulties and disadvantages that have been transformed into tales of growth, triumph, and hope. As I talked about my Side by Side Kids students and the mutual impact we’ve had on each other, I got to learn the ways that our ministry has impacted some of our guests and their families.
Triple C was special because we got to listen to and tell these stories - these real, unedited, authentic stories - and in this, we...more
We want to introduce you to the incredible women that make up our SBSK team. Our Site Coordinators are the heart behind what we do and we wouldn’t be able to encourage hearts and inspire minds without them leading the way.
This week, we’re introducing you to Devin Miranda, our Site Coordinator at Oak Hill Elementary! Take it away, Devin!
Before working at SBSK, I worked as a legislative aide for the 2017 Legislative Session for Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. After graduating from Texas A&M with a political science degree, this is the road I foresaw myself going down, but as my time in session came to a close, I felt at a crossroads because I felt God pulling me towards a different path than I had planned for myself.
After much deliberation and talks with God, I knew he wanted me somewhere else and I felt the non-profit realm the place to be for me. I trusted that God would place me where I needed to be, and then along came SBSK. From the moment I pressed send on my application, everything -from...more
Dear Side by Side Kids Family,
Over four years ago I started the journey of a lifetime at Side by Side Kids. When I was hired as an Afterschool Teacher in 2013, I had no idea how mightily God would move in me and through me to impact East Austin’s servant leaders and heroes of tomorrow. It’s with both joy and sadness that I announce that my time with SBSK has come to an end.
Effective October 31st, 2017, I will no longer be the Afterschool Program Director at Side by Side Kids. My wonderful husband, Todd, and I are moving to Dallas to be closer to our family. This is bittersweet news to share because my time at SBSK has meant so very much to me – more than I can express in writing – but I’m leaving our afterschool programs in good (no, AMAZING) hands!
Michelle Sanchez, our current Afterschool Program Manager, will take my place as Afterschool Program Director at the end of the month. Michelle has been part of the SBSK family for three years and has...more
This week, we’re introducing you to Brittany Williamson, our Site Coordinator at Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary! Without further adieu, here’s Brittany to tell you her story!
I was born in Houma, Louisiana, but I mainly grew up in Oklahoma - since we were a military family, we moved around quite a bit! I graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Criminal Justice. My husband’s promotion brought us to Austin in March 2017! Austin has so much to offer and I’m excited to explore it!
Prior to Side by Side Kids, I worked for a total of five years in Juvenile Corrections as a Probation Officer and Probation Supervisor. Side by Side Kids gained my attention because I had always wanted to work in the non-profit sector and I absolutely love kids - once I found out it was faith-based, that just sealed the...more
This week, we’re spotlighting Sarah Fountain, our Site Coordinator at Webb Primary! Take it away, Sarah!
I was born in Florida but have been in Austin since I was 12! Upon graduating from the University of Texas, I worked for another mentoring program for a year before coming to Side by Side Kids.
I wanted to work at Side by Side Kids because I’m super passionate about the kids that we serve and desired to help them grow into all that God has created them to be. Side by Side Kids is so unique because we are all about sharing the gospel and helping our kids know Jesus. Also, a lot of other organizations that aim at relational ministry with kids are a once a week program while we get see our kids four days a week, allowing for more consistency and deeper investment.
I love all of the different relationships I get to build...more
Wouldn't it be great to switch places with your fourth-grade self? Drop the deadlines and spreadsheets to travel back to swing-sets, school supplies, and silliness.
We haven't achieved time travel yet, but meet Devin, a fourth-grader at Webb Primary School. Each day, Devin wakes up at 6:30am, gets ready for school, and rides the bus to Webb. What's his first stop? The cafeteria for some breakfast.
Throughout the day, Devin attends class. He is a bright student with a passion for learning, and his favorite subject is math. "I love math because I like numbers and I'm good at it," he explained, while quickly solving a problem on his homework assignment. We asked him to name the coolest thing he learned today, and his eyes lit up. "Today we learned about decimals! We learned what they are and where to put them. I didn't even know there were numbers between 12 and 13."
During recess, Devin likes to play regular tag with his friends. "I don't like freeze tag," he emphasized to us. "You get tagged and then you get frozen and then you can't move and then...more
The first week back on campus means the first week back with our kiddos! We missed so many things about our SBSK kids, but most of all we missed the way they brighten our day with the sweet, hilarious and downright CUTE things that they say!
On our Afterschool Teachers:
“Ms. Emma’s face looks like a beautiful statue. It’s perfect.”
On her unique name:
“Whoa. You are the first people to say my name right!!!”
On “following directions quickly” and “keeping your dear teacher happy”:
“Guess I’ll need to go home and study Rule 1 and Rule 5!”
On our snacks:
“It freaks me out when we all have matching milks."
On crafting during Crew Time:
Crew Leader: “What’s your favorite word on the togetherness necklace?”
Student: “Loving, because I love my mom… but also because the red color is my favorite…”
"Some sharks are not very...more
Elizabeth Minor, Afterschool Teacher at T.A. Brown
I’ll never forget the day at Side by Side Kids when my class was at their absolute wildest. We had to have a heart-to-heart about what my expectations were for them. Some of the students were feeling hurt as I scolded them, so I explained a little more clearly.
I said, “I am disappointed in the choices you made today. But that does not mean I don’t love you. I will always love you and that is why I want you to make good choices. Tomorrow we’re going to come back and start fresh. We are all going to make wise decisions and have a great day!”
One student looked confused and asked, “But you just love the ones of us that were good, right?” I corrected, “No. I love ALL of you - no matter what.” We discussed later how Jesus’ love is the same way. There is nothing we can do to make Him stop loving us and caring for us. The love I have experienced through SBSK for my students and from my students is one of the purest forms of Christ-like love I have seen in my life.
It’s a brand new school year! If you’re new to Side by Side Kids (or you need a refresher), take a look at some Frequently Asked Questions below!
What is Side by Side Kids (SBSK)?
SBSK is a faith-based nonprofit afterschool program serving at 6 different elementary schools in Austin. Our mission is to inspire and equip kids in East Austin to be excellent students, make wise choices, and follow Christ. We journey side-by-side with kids, encouraging and equipping them to reach their highest God-given potential as everyday leaders and heroes of tomorrow.
Is Side by Side Kids a daycare program or licensed child care facility?
No! In addition, we are NOT regulated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
What’s the difference between SBSK and daycare/babysitting?
We do so much more than “watch” our students! Every minute of the afterschool day is...more
Our Afterschool Teachers are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime! This semester, Side by Side Kids will serve more students than ever before. Our team will encourage hearts and inspire minds at SIX different elementary schools! But how can we be sure our teachers are ready to develop the servant leaders and heroes of tomorrow? By training them, of course!
Side by Side Kids Afterschool Teachers receive 16 hours of paid training at the beginning of every semester. Through extensive research on best practices, our leadership team equips Afterschool Teachers to offer high-quality programming to SBSK students. We explore the following topics in detail:
Safety and Supervision
Building a Gospel-Centered Community
Have you heard about the annual Side by Side Kids Backpack Distribution? It’s TODAY! Get the inside scoop from our Afterschool Program Manager, Michelle Sanchez!
Tell us about the Backpack Distribution!
MS: The Backpack Distribution is an annual event sponsored by Austin Ridge Bible Church (ARBC). At the beginning of every school year, we have the privilege of providing all Side by Side Kids students with backpacks STUFFED with school supplies! The Backpack Distribution takes the burden of back-to-school shopping off of SBSK parents, and it equips our kids with the tools they need for a successful school year.
What was the inspiration behind this event?
MS: There is tremendous need for support in our community - both material and spiritual. Through the Backpack Distribution, we are able to meet a material need for many of our families (thanks to ARBC!), but we are also able to show them Christ’s unconditional, unending love in the process. It’s about so much more than a...more
Work hard, play hard, that’s how we roll! There are SO many reasons to #JoinOurCrew, but we narrowed it down to five. Take a look!
1. Supervisors and coworkers who love Jesus!
We pray together, laugh together, learn together, and grow together. When you join the SBSK team, you join a family focused on Christ.
2. Eternal impact!
It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyways) that sharing the Gospel with kids is life-changing (for them AND for you). Are you looking to make a real difference in your community? This is a great place to start!
3. Extensive training on best teaching practices!
Education majors, rejoice! We will give you all the tools you need to be successful in the classroom - just come ready to learn. Get the classroom experience you’re craving before it’s time to student teach!
4. Flexible scheduling!
We sync up with the Austin ISD and local university calendars to ensure that you can make the most of your...more
With fall comes the beginning of a new school year, (hopefully) cooler weather, and LOTS of change and growth at Side by Side Kids! Here’s what the SBSK team is looking forward to most this semester.
- Lisa: I’m excited to see our new campuses open, and to see SBSK make a greater impact in Austin!
- Piccola: I’m looking forward to seeing the kids after summer break and learning all the ways they’ve grown! And on top of that, connecting even more people to SBSK. Come volunteer!
- Tonya: I am looking forward to opening up TWO new school sites! My prayer is that all the youth in our community feel safe and supported.
- Michelle: I’m excited to see our kids, both new and old! I’m eager to connect with Summer Scholars students to see if what they learned this summer carries over in the school year. I’m also excited to meet and train all of our new staff!
- Avery: I’m excited to start at two new schools, Oak Hill and Campbell Elementary, and to reach...
Owen Earl is a fourteen year old going into his first year at McCallum High School. Although he’s just a freshman, Owen already has a huge heart for service. He has been a stellar volunteer with Side by Side Kids, and we wanted you to get to know him!
How did you hear about SBSK?
I was walking down the street and saw a sheet of paper advertising it!
What made you want to apply to be a volunteer?
The general idea of helping people made me want to apply.
How often do you serve? Which school/class?
I volunteer once a week with the second and third grade at Webb Primary, but I might be there twice a week now!
What is the best part of serving with SBSK?
You feel helpful! You feel a lot more useful helping people rather than being at home just watching TV.
Tell us about a memorable moment with your students.
It would have to be when I walked into class and all the kids said, “Happy birthday!” I don’t know how they knew it was...more
With the end of July comes the end of SBSK’s Summer Club Fun! For the past two months on Thursday afternoons, we have opened our doors to kids in the Austin community and explored the characteristics of God. Here are some of the highlights from each week!
During our Art Party, the kids got to indulge in their artistic side through painting, songwriting, and jewelry-making. It was so fun to see our students understand that God is creative, and that He made them to be creative, too!
For our Adventure Quest, the kids explored all the ways that God is exciting! They told their life stories by making their own comic books, played the board game Life, and wrote some silly stories using Mad Libs!
On Dream Day, we challenged our kids to dream big for their futures. They designed their own architecture using construction paper and Legos, learned about the story of Esther and her journey to become queen, and created...more
This summer, we have been blessed to work with three AMAZING interns! Meet Maddie, Olivia, and Katharine. Continue reading to learn more about them!
Give us some background information!
Maddie: I go to University of Texas at Austin, and I’m majoring in Communication Pathology.
Olivia: I go to Ole Miss, and my major is Marketing.
Katharine: I also go to University of Texas at Austin, and I’m majoring in Mathematics.
What drew you to our internship program?
M: I was initially drawn to Side by Side Kids because it was a faith-based program. I’ve been wanting an opportunity to learn and grow professionally, but was excited that I could also grow with my relationship with the Lord. I was also very interested in serving kids.
O: I really liked that this was a faith-based internship!
K: I was drawn to Side by Side Kids because of how their mission statement included...more
Meet Angel! Angel is a smart and sweet fourth grader at T.A. Brown Elementary. She was also one of our very first Summer Scholars! We asked Angel to tell us all about herself and the Summer Scholars program.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What is your favorite subject at school?
My favorite subject is math, especially multiplication and division. And science, too, because we do cool experiments.
What was your favorite part of Summer Scholars?
I loved everything about Summer Scholars! I loved that I made so many new friends and learned so many things.
What did you learn at Summer Scholars?
I learned more things about math and science, like counting money and making lava lamps!
What’s the coolest thing about God?
We can’t believe that Summer Scholars is OVER! Time truly does fly when you’re having this much fun! Here’s the scoop on the second half of our flagship Summer Scholars program:
Week 3 of Summer Scholars was Math & Technology Week. Our scholars developed their use of binary operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), applied their math skills to real-life situations, and also learned the basics of coding! The kids enjoyed competing in a mathematical game of “Trashketball,” calculating probabilities while playing Twister, and writing an algorithm to make pizza (and then eating the pizza, of course!).
The focus of Week 4 was Science & Social Studies. We delved into the fields of biology, geography, and chemistry. Our scholars learned about dolphins, practiced their Cardinal directions, and even made their own ice cream!
The entire month of Summer Scholars has set an amazing precedent for future SBSK summer programming. Our...more
Did you know that there were TWO SBSK Summer Scholars programs happening this month? In addition to our regular Summer Scholars programming in the St. Johns neighborhood, we hosted a Summer Scholars Mini Camp at All Saints Presbyterian Church in Southwest Austin!
For two weeks this month, Oak Hill Elementary School students enjoyed fun and educational games and activities centered around life skills, literacy, math, science, and social studies. We worshipped together, prayed together, and learned together! One mom shared, “At first, my daughter was nervous about coming to camp. By the end of the first day, she didn’t want to leave!”
Why have a second Summer Scholars program? This fall, Side by Side Kids will launch a new afterschool program at Oak Hill Elementary. We simply couldn’t wait until August to see those students’ smiling faces! Summer Scholars Mini Camp was a wonderful opportunity to connect with students,...more
We are two weeks into our first-ever Summer Scholars program, and we can tell you for a fact that this is one of the most exciting and life-changing experiences that we’ve ever had!
The idea of summer programs that are “all work” and “no play” may be daunting to some, but by the grace of God, our scholars are not only growing in areas like life skills and literacy, but they are also having TONS of fun!
Each week of the Summer Scholars program highlights a different theme. During our first week, Life Skills Week, we learned about Growing with God, Financial Literacy, and Self Care. A few highlights from that week included reading Bible stories, making piggy banks, and participating in the Side by Side Kids Olympic Games!
During our second week, Literacy Week, we studied Reading, Writing, and Spelling. Our scholars read aloud to their peers (and some furry friends), wrote their own short stories, and participated in the Side by Side Kids Spelling Bee.
These two weeks have...more
This school year, the Lord has shown His faithfulness to Side by Side Kids time and time again! He paved the way for our new program at Mollie Barrington Elementary, He parted the waters when the T.A. Brown campus closed, and He opened the doors at both Campbell and Oak Hill Elementary for us to walk through this fall. He is mighty, He is steadfast, and He is so, so GOOD!
The parents at Mollie Barrington had great things to say about their first experience with Side by Side Kids. One mom said, “I am thankful my son is part of Side by Side Kids. He has learned a lot about God!” Another shared, “Thanks to the program, my daughter has changed her character at home and the manner in which she responds to others.” What a privilege it is to see God at work in our students’ lives!
Here are a few more highlights from...more
“Who knows our open motto?”, my UT campus tour guide asked slyly. It seemed as if she didn’t expect us to know the answer and her expectations were met as we all quizzically looked at one another, mumbling uncertain “hook ‘ems?” under our breath.
“It’s actually, 'what starts here changes the world’. Here at the University of Texas, we don’t want our accomplishments to be limited to the 40 acres. We want to make an impact.”
Our tour guide proceeded to list off the accomplishments of past Longhorns. She detailed the ways that UT grads have made progress in medicine, technology, business and more. Of course, all of their successes started during their time on this campus, walking these same streets, sitting in these same classrooms.
I often wonder how they were able to do so much when I feel like I’m barely able to survive finals week. While juggling studying, responsibilities, internships and relationships, my main instinct is survival mode. How am I supposed to change the world when I have tests to take, essays to write, and group projects to...more
Earlier this semester, SBSK gained the newest member of our crew, Tonya Moore, and she is absolutely incredible! Her past experiences serving the youth and her steadfast relationship with Christ are beyond inspiring, and she has fit into our organization beautifully.
Tonya and her family moved to Austin a few months ago from Omaha, Nebraska. Back in Omaha, she worked for another youth nonprofit for more than 11 years, during which time she served in a variety of roles with children of all ages, including elementary, middle, and high schoolers. When she arrived in Austin, Tonya knew she wanted to continue serving the youth, and God led her straight to us.
“When I came here, I was looking for something that would still keep me working with the youth, and that’s how I found Side by Side. I just looked online for non-profit groups serving kiddos, and it popped up! And it was faith-based. My faith is important.”
When asked about the largest differences between SBSK and her previous job, Tonya spoke a lot about transitioning from a secular work...more
We've been dreaming of providing East Austin students with scholarships for a long time. We’re excited to announce that Side by Side Kids will launch its first-ever Summer Scholars program this year to help 60 students reach their highest academic potential and beat summer slide.
Here's how it works:
With your help, we will award 60 SBSK students with FULL scholarships to attend 4 weeks of summer programming. To receive the award, students must apply. The program will focus on our core values: faith development, academic enrichment, character formation, and empowerment. We'll kick off the program with an award luncheon for students, families, and supporters. Every week, we'll send emails with impacts, testimonies, and prayer requests so you can follow along as we explore topics like life skills, literacy, math, technology, science, and social studies. At the end of the 4 weeks, families and supporters are welcome to join the graduation ceremony to celebrate all of the students' hard...more
On Thursday, April 6th, 2017 Side by Side Kids held their anticipated second annual Topgolf fundraiser. Thanks to generous donors, a high of $40,000 was raised! This will provide continued quality afterschool education for 190 east Austin students in Side by Side Kids. Additionally, this will help Side by Side Kids move into 2 new schools this fall. A few thanks are in order.
Thank you to our board and the following team leaders:
- Tollie Bernard
- Bill Daniel
- Diane Pollard
- Mike Shannon
- Jim Offerdahl
- Michael Watt
- Rick Russell
Thank you to the following sponsors:more
22 years ago, Redeemer Presbyterian Church founded a small mercy ministry called Community New Start. Its mission was to serve East Austin’s St. John’s community. A few years passed and this ministry became an official nonprofit that sought to care for kids in that same community. Instead of Community New Start, it would now be known as Side by Side Kids.
As we look ahead to new beginnings, we can’t help but look back and see how far we’ve come since our founding in 1996. Things are coming full circle during this expansion process, and we will be reconnecting with our founding church, while also building connections with a new church in order to bring Side by Side Kids to another new campus.
God has recently opened doors at the Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media and Performing Arts Institute, and we are excited to announce that our program will be expanding to this campus in the fall! ...more
Meet Amanda and David, two of the many members of the Side By Side Kids staff alumni network! When they each became Crew Leaders at T.A. Brown, neither could have guessed all that God would have in store for them during their time there. Not only did Amanda and David serve countless hours as Crew Leaders, interns, and summer volunteers, but they also began to date each other - and have now been together for almost three years! We asked Amanda and David to recount some of their experiences as SBSK staff:
What roles did you each have at SBSK?
Amanda: I began working as the 3rd grade Crew Leader at T.A. Brown in January of 2014. That summer, I served as a volunteer during SBSK's summer camp and then returned as the 2nd grade Crew Leader in the fall. I stayed with these same kiddos for the whole school year and then had the wonderful opportunity to finish my time at SBSK by working as a summer intern. I finished my time in August of 2015, so in total I worked with SBSK for...more
Your mid-semester progress report is back, and we are thrilled to share what God has been doing at Side by Side Kids.
So far, this semester has been incredible. We had the opportunity to serve 189 students at 4 schools (J.J. Pickle, Webb, Mollie Barrington, and T.A. Brown), we were blessed with 29 Crew Leaders, 3 Assistant Site Coordinators and 4 Site Coordinators who were passionate about serving their students, and we had 4 interns and 52 volunteers assisting us on and off campus.
We've been constantly amazed by the passion and talent of the people God has provided for our ministry- people like you who are dedicated to empowering and loving our SBSK students.
As the semester continues, we would greatly appreciate your prayers for:
- a strong finish to the semester
- continued energy for our staff
- our students in their...
For over two decades, Side by Side Kids has enjoyed several long relationships with many church partners. We are truly blessed to serve an amazing community in East Austin with the help of these various congregations.
As we look to the future, we are fortunate to walk side by side with members of All Saints Presbyterian Church. A year ago, All Saints Presbyterian Church opened their new campus in Southwest Austin. This year, Josh Eby, Associate Pastor from All Saints, has been partnering with Side by Side Kids in the hopes of making afterschool programs available to children who live in the immediate vicinity of the church and attend Oak Hill Elementary.
In February, All Saints started reaching out to a small community located just a few blocks from their church. This neighborhood is home to many of the children that attend Oak Hill Elementary. Pastor Eby and members of the church have been walking the neighborhood and inviting their neighbors to come visit the church. Recently, an amazing neighborhood party took place in March on their church grounds...more
Meet David. He's been with Side by Side Kids for over two years, and during this time he's worn many hats. From Crew Leader to Development Intern to Social Media Intern to Afterschool Program Intern, he's done it all!
Think an SBSK internship might be in your future? Watch the video below to see what it's like!more
When searching Google for volunteer opportunities, Jessie knew she wanted to find a program that impacted kids. As an aspiring teacher, Jessie "wanted to observe and interact with kids in a classroom environment" so when she found Side by Side Kids, she knew she had to apply.
"Side by Side Kids stood out to me because it not only helps students to excel in school, but it also focuses on teaching them about Jesus!"
Jessie used her volunteer opportunity with Side by Side Kids to get a feel for what teaching would be like. She chose to work with the 2nd and 3rd-grade classes at T.A. Brown because she was interested in teaching at that grade level post-graduation. Luckily, Jessie found that she didn't just enjoy this age group, but she looked forward to going back to volunteer with them every week!
After falling in love with volunteering at Side by Side Kids for a semester, Jessie decided to apply for a position as a Crew Leader. Since she wanted to...more
Valentine’s Day is an exciting holiday here at SBSK. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate one of God’s most important commands - to love one another!
Because of this, our curriculum this week centers around the question "how can we show love to others?"
Before they started their lesson, we interviewed some of our kids at Webb Primary about how they love others and how God loves them. Here are their sweet responses:
How does God show His love for you?
Aly: By saving and helping us. He’s always by our side.
How do you show love for others?
Alexis: I show my friends that I love them by being kind and treating them how I want to be treated.
What’s the silliest thing you’ve done to show someone you love them?
Denise: I gave my mom soda with cheese in it once when I was little. I thought she would like it because she liked Coke and cheese. She didn’t like them together, but she still tried it.
Who do you love?
Clara Grace Cowden
Since my first day at Side by Side Kids, the kids have absolutely captured my heart. I can see God so clearly through their bright faces and am grateful to Him for providing me with the opportunity I have to know all of these kids.
I'm very active, and run cross country and play soccer for my school, Regent’s. I found out about Side by Side Kids from Regent’s Service Council, and I got involved during cross country season. My schedule worked perfectly, and I was able to practice in the mornings on Wednesdays and Thursdays and volunteered with Side by Side Kids in the afternoons.
I didn’t think about what would happen when soccer season started.
Cross country ended and off-season began. I asked my soccer coach if I could continue to go weekly to Side by Side Kids, to which she said I could go once a month until the soccer season started. A week later, I asked again, this time to both of the soccer coaches, and received the same answer. I kept asking, but the Thursday before soccer started, I knew I had...more
On January 17th, we welcomed Dania, our new T.A. Brown Site Coordinator, to our team!
If you’ve had the opportunity to interact with Dania even a little bit, you already know just how wonderful she is. Dania is dedicated, hardworking and has the biggest heart. Not only does she have a smile that will light up any room, she is an absolute natural at her new role. We're excited to have her with us!
Born in the Dominican Republic, Dania immigrated to New York City when she was just 12 years old. She received a bachelor’s of business administration degree in accounting, with a minor in psychology.
When Dania encountered Side by Side Kids during her job search, she decided to apply for an Assistant Site Coordinator position. Thankfully, God had another plan in mind.
While winter break gave us a much needed period of rest and relaxation, we were eager for program to start up again so we could see our kids again and get back in the swing of things! A lot of stuff happened during the first week of program, and we want to get you caught up on all of the fun, silly and exciting things that are happening on and off campus at Side by Side Kids!
Here are some highlights:
Our curriculum question of the week was “Who is the Holy Spirit?"
- For the first week back, our kids spent time focusing on the Holy Spirit. The verse of the week that they learned was Romans 8:14: "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God!"
We learned some new dance moves!
- The 4th and 5th grade boys at T.A. Brown showed us their dance moves, and even gave us an impromptu performance that included singing and dancing!
About three years ago, I went with my father to one of Side by Side Kids' golf tournament - while we didn’t play well in the tournament, I had a great time and was introduced to Sly and some of the staff members that were running the event!
Fast forward to July 2016. Although I had been volunteering for the past 13 years with an Alzheimer's respite program at my church, I was looking for additional organizations to get involved with to give back to the Austin community. I was reminded of SBSK and was encouraged to reach out and see if there were any volunteer opportunities available. I was in luck!
I have been loving my experience getting to serve with Side by Side Kids! It’s incredibly rewarding to know we have the opportunity to impact the lives of these kids, and show them how important education, kindness, and spirituality are when creating a positive future for themselves.
I volunteer every Wednesday for about three and a half hours with the...more
Even our Crew Leaders get to learn a thing or two every once in a while!
This week, our Crew Leaders participated in their pre-semester training, where they covered major topics like on-campus safety and supervision, classroom management, building a Gospel-centered community, teaching curriculum and a new teaching style - Whole Brain Teaching.
If you haven't heard of Whole Brain Teaching, here's the run down:
Whole Brain Teaching, simply put, is classic teaching practices combined into a new, more effective approach designed to increase student engagement. It combines direct instruction, sharing and immediate feedback into a new style of teaching that takes advantage of the way the brain is supposed to learn.
If you've been in a Side by Side Kids classroom recently, you might have seen some Whole Brain Teaching techniques. These include going over classroom rules before the lesson plan, and the "Class-Yes" attention getter in which the Crew Leader says...more
Before working at Side by Side Kids as Social Media Coordinator, I was a Crew Leader at Webb Primary School. As a public relations major at the University of Texas, teaching elementary-aged students was never something I thought I would be doing. As someone who came into college not having a relationship with Jesus, working at a ministry was also not something I had planned for myself.
Thankfully, God had other plans. I went on a mission trip the summer before my sophomore year at UT and it changed both of those things for me. I came back from Panama with a heart for children and a focus set on God. Still, I had no idea how to pursue these newfound passions back in Austin.
That's where Side by Side Kids came in.
When I saw the job description online, I was shocked - it seemed like the Crew Leader position was tailor-made for me. I applied immediately, and I'm so thankful I did. By God’s grace, I started working as a Crew Leader and I was amazed at how my prayers were answered.
There are many reasons why I loved my time as a Crew Leader, but these are the...more
Happy New Year!
As we look forward to the New Year and all God has in store, we're also looking back to our favorite memories from 2016. Here's a list of our top 5 most popular blogs:
5. What We're Thankful for - We went over to Webb Primary to ask our second and third graders what they were thankful for, and I promise the video is definitely worth watching again right now!
4. As One Door Closes, Another One Opens - Despite structural concerns at T.A. Brown and the transition to a new building, we were able to continue serving our students and their families at their new location. Re-read the incredible story of God's provision.
3. Making Time for Ministry - Volunteer and Crew Leader, Dana, shared her story that encouraged us to live generously with our time. Read again and be inspired!
This was our best year ever and all glory to God! Goals were accomplished, lives were changed, and lessons were learned. Let me share more.
We increased from serving 3 schools, to 4. We increased from serving 160 students, to 190. We increased from 20 weekly volunteers, to 40. We increased from 33 ministry partners, to 40. We were able to serve more and with so many of you this year! Glory to God.
Lessons we learned?
1) As we began expanding into new schools we learned that...more
With 4 days until Christmas, we know you probably have a bit of shopping left to do. Are you running low on ideas? Here's one: give the gift of education. If you give $2.50/day to Side by Side Kids, you will keep 1 East Austin student in our program for 1 month!
Why give to Side by Side Kids this Christmas? Because:
1. You will make a sustainable impact in the life of a student in need all year long.
2. You will empower a student with a healthy meal, homework help, faith-based learning, and supervised recreational activity.
3. You will ensure that a student has a 95% chance of moving on to the next grade level.
Think about that - your gift can empower a student with their academics, faith, health, and friendships until next Christmas simply by clicking here and making a monthly donation now. Give now to Side by Side Kids in honor of a loved one, for the last few people left...more
While gift-giving is not the most important part about Christmas, it certainly is exciting! Seeing our loved-ones' faces light up when they receive a thoughtful present on Christmas day is one of the best parts of the holidays.
Each year, to help our Side by Side Kids families prepare for such a sweet season of selflessness, we host our annual Christmas Markets to allow parents and kids to pick out gifts for each other.
This year, 37 students and their families attended the Webb Christmas Market on Thursday, December 8th. While parents went upstairs to pick gifts and an Adventure Bible for their kids, students spent time downstairs playing games, decorating cookies, taking pictures at the photo booth and picking gifts for their parents that they took home in personalized gift bags. Austin Ridge Bible Church sponsors Webb’s Christmas Market each year, and as always, they went above and beyond this year to make this a special event for our students and their families.
Barrington, Brown and Pickle’s Christmas Market was held that following...more
As one of our most enthusiastic students ever, Nikki is a natural “servant leader and hero of tomorrow” for her peers. Nikki is a bright 2nd-grader at J.J. Pickle Elementary who’s growing spiritually and academically thanks to the strong foundation she’s receiving with your help at Side by Side Kids.
Nikki’s Crew Leader, Ms. Marissa, told us, “Nikki is filled with energy and always ready to participate! She once said to me, ‘Ms. Marissa! Here is my Bible for when we start Crew Time, I want you to use it!”
She continues, “Whenever I need someone to read the verse of the week out loud for the class, it never surprises me to see Nikki raise her hand. It encourages other students in the class to participate more in learning about God.”
We see God working through her attitude - always respectful, kind, helpful, and bringing joy to those around her! It’s no surprise that her favorite part of Side by Side Kids is “learning about God.”
As we approach the end of year, the needs - and the opportunities - are enormous. On average, 97% of our East...more
You've seen the hashtag #GivingTuesday - but what's it all about?
According to the innovators, "#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration... Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season.
Additionally, this day unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another." (Did you know empowerment is one of our core values?)
Today, we celebrate this global day of giving, by giving back as an organization to another local nonprofit, Sharing Happy Birthdays - who provides birthday parties for homeless and foster children. We believe it's important to give with you today.
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10
Last Thursday we had our annual Side by Side Kids Thanksgiving Dinner at the For the City Center.
Each year we take this time to come together as a community for an early Thanksgiving dinner, and each year we are blown away and overjoyed by how many people choose to spend their Thursday evening with us as we celebrate with good food and good company!
It’s not often that all of our campuses get to hang out, so seeing our staff, students and their families enjoying themselves and joining together in fellowship was so heart-warming - it served as a reminder that Side by Side Kids is not just an afterschool program, but a family.
Of course, this whole event would not have been possible without all of the unwavering support we received!
This event went off without a hitch, thanks to the members of All Saints Presbyterian Church for helping with the event set-up, AC and The Good News for playing awesome music all night, and the members of Austin Ridge Bible Church who provided the delicious food and helped serve our wonderful St. John’s...more
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we wanted to know what some of our students were thankful for! We went over to Webb Primary to ask our second and third graders what they were thankful for - watch the video below to see what some of their answers were:more
When we learned about T.A. Brown’s closure due to structural concerns, we were both relieved for our students safety, and sad to see the end of an era. T.A. Brown was our flagship school at Side by Side Kids and has been our partner for over a decade. We have countless memories that were made there. Even the mundane - walking the halls, playing on the playground, sitting in classrooms - seemed special as we thought of all the Side by Side Kids “firsts” that happened there.
Despite things coming to an end, we are excited to continue serving our students and their families at their new location.
T.A. Brown’s first through fifth-grade students are relocating to the former Allan Elementary School, and Side by Side Kids is gladly following in their footsteps.
We will greatly miss T.A. Brown, but at the end of the day, it’s just a building. St. John’s is a strong, resilient part of the city of Austin. We are confident our community will come together through this change. We believe that this transition is in the best interest of our students and their families. We...more
That's how many hours we have in a week, and Dana Lauchner takes full advantage of each one. She spends 18 hours taking classes at the University of Texas, 10 hours studying, 9 hours working as a teaching assistant for chemistry lab, 4 hours working on marketing strategy for the International Justice Mission organization, 2 hours with her Stone Missional Community, 2 hours on Sundays helping with Austin Stone’s kids ministry, 1 hour volunteering with a special education organization, and 2 hours in her Delight bible study.
Just listening to her schedule was exhausting, but despite her busyness, Dana signed on for another semester at Side by Side Kids without hesitation.
“It’s something I look forward to doing every week. It’s a nice way to get out of the realm of being a college student, and to just remember what it’s like to be ten-years-old again,” said Dana.
Dana got her start with SBSK last Spring as a crew leader for fourth and fifth-grade girls at T.A. Brown. Throughout her time there, she saw how the...more
After an incredible first year of expansion, we felt called by God to love more kids in East Austin. This September, Side by Side Kids launched its fourth after-school program at Mollie Barrington Elementary. Watch the video below for an update on how it's going so far:more
On Friday, October 14th, 2016 Side by Side Kids held their anticipated seventh annual "Triple C" fundraiser at Abel's On The Lake. Thanks to generous donors, an all-time high of $70,000 was raised! This will provide continued quality afterschool education for 190 east Austin students in Side by Side Kids. A few thanks are in order.
Thank you to the following hosts (pictured above):
- Tollie and Ann Bernard
- Jordan and Mary Catherine Campbell
- Bill and Laurel Daniels
- Tim and Elissa Frickenschmidt
- Jay and Annisa Hendrix
- Scot and Krissy Hughes
- Manny and Jen Martinez
- Spencer and Laurence Moore
- Ben and Courtney Moss
- George and Johanna Peyton
- Kerry and Diane Pollard
- Mark and Nancy Pollard
- Michael and Brooke Shannon
- Phillip and Heather Wilhelm
- Travis and Suzanne Wilson
- Ryan and Jennifer Russell
- Zach and Kristyn Slusher
True or false: All Crew Leaders (afterschool teachers) at Side by Side Kids are college students.
False! Over the last several years, Crew Leaders have come from all kinds of backgrounds and life stages. For example, one of the Crew Leaders at T.A. Brown Elementary this fall is a retired teacher who's excited to use her teaching expertise and love for Jesus at SBSK. Meet Ms. Effie.
After 38 years of teaching, Ms. Effie was ready for something new. Last July, she began looking for a part-time after school teaching position. After Googling "after school teaching jobs", Ms. Effie was impressed when she saw Side by Side Kids was a faith-based program. As an experienced teacher and lover of God, she felt led to apply for the position. Additionally, Ms. Effie is active in her church and the local community. The Crew Leader position seemed like the perfect fit!
When asked how her experience at SBSK has been so far she replied, "...more
We held our the seventh annual "In His Shoes" event last Saturday (September 24th)! In His Shoes is an event where students are given the opportunity to pick out a brand new pair of shoes for the school year. Since we serve a lower-income community, many of our students are not able to purchase brand new shoes before the school year begins.
To meet this need, this year we teamed up with Young Men’s Service League - Vipers Chapter and Austin Christian Fellowship - Four Points to provide 200 brand new shoes. We also gave each student headphones and lunch, with the option to participate in fun activities. Our families were encouraged to see the amount of shoes available to them. Many of them expressed gratitude and thanks for providing a fun and family-oriented event for their children.
As a Christian organization, Faith Development is one our four core values. Each week, we are able to teach Faith Development during our...more
This past summer my son (Bayne) and I were introduced to Side by Side Kids (SBSK) was through Young Men's Service League (YMSL). YMSL encourages young men and their mothers to pursue philanthropic involvement in their community and provides an opportunity to enhance mother/son relationships. Looking at all of the opportunities we had to volunteer, my son and I decided SBSK would be a perfect fit. Bayne wants to be a pediatrician so working with the kids made sense. Also, YMSL mothers strive to serve "side by side" with their sons - so, our missions seemed similar.
Our first time volunteering with SBSK, Bayne walked away saying, “That was THE most rewarding volunteer opportunity I’ve ever had!” He was really taken aback from the whole experience. From watching Bayne lead in the group to seeing him interact and engage in a different way - it’s a side of him I don’t get to see very often. In the group activities, Bayne was really taking the lead in the plays. As a parent, it’s outside of what I normally...more
You will be grinning from ear to ear by the end of this post. Without further ado, here's 5 quotes from the first week of our afterschool program that will make you smile: (in no particular order)
1. "Ms. Bekah (Crew Leader): Why did you draw a cross on the word "loving"? Vince (Webb student): Because Jesus loves us the most!" - Raquel, Site Coordinator at Webb Early College Prep Academy
2. "[The first week] was a lot of fun. My team is very great and we are happy to work together!" - Julissa, Site Coordinator at T.A. Brown
3. "[The first week] we had 36 volunteers on campus! This included 2 Bow Wow Reading dogs, 1 intern, 13 students from Regents School of Austin, and 4 students from Reagan High School. The kids are loving it, and we love our volunteers!" - Piccola, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator
4. "One student started the program on Tuesday and cried as her father left. By the end of the day, she was...more
Robert is a 2nd-grade student at TA Brown Elementary and has been participating in Side by Side Kids since kindergarten! Robert has two older siblings that have also been part of SBSK for years (you may remember his brother Jimmy from previous videos). It's really special the way their family has grown in their faith and character together.
What Robert says he enjoys more than anything is running and playing soccer with all of his friends. When Robert is not playing outside, he can be found in the classroom encouraging everyone with his silliness and words of truth. Robert always yells, "‘God loves us!’ every time I ask him, ‘Who does God love?’,” says Sri, his 2015-16 Crew Leader.
This past summer our volunteers asked Robert, "'Who is Jesus?' and he responded, 'Jesus is my superhero!'" That's what it's all about, isn't it? We love hearing that Jesus is both a personal friend and mighty God to our students!
Will you pray that Robert and the 150+...more
Meet Manny! He began serving on the Side by Side Kid's Board in July 2011. Currently, he serves as our Board Chairman.
Manny Martinez is a Credit Officer for the Farm Credit Bank of Texas. He has lived in Austin since 2008. He is originally from Peoria, Arizona and has an undergraduate degree in finance from Arizona State University. He enjoys spending free time with his wife of 17 years, Jennifer and two children. He is a member of Austin Ridge Bible Church (ARBC) and has a passion to learn more about Christ and grow in his relationship with Him in community with others. Manny disciples a small group of high school boys at Austin Ridge and has also led multiple mission trips to the Dominican Republic.
With the fall season soon upon us, Manny reflects on his experiences with serving a Thanksgiving meal to the students and families of Side by Side Kids with the student ministry at ARBC.
"Our student ministry at Austin Ridge Bible Church (ARBC) has participated in providing and serving a Thanksgiving meal to the...more
I’ve heard it said that it’s not about the destination, but it’s about the journey. So, how did a girl from the Midwestern state of Michigan end up in the southern heat of Texas? At Side by Side Kids? I would have to say it’s probably equal parts timing, opportunity, and God. Let’s take a walk down memory lane!
At the end of June, I was already on the hunt for a new opportunity that would be more fitting for my love for urban ministry and interest in photography and design. Come June 21st…
My friend Lisa, who had just begun her Executive Assistant position at SBSK a few weeks prior, casually mentioned that they needed a marketing intern over gchat. To her surprise, I excitedly told her I was interested. In many ways, it felt like an answered prayer! SBSK’s mission to serve kids in Austin in a faith-based, purposeful way fit so well with what I was searching for. In a whirlwind of two weeks, I had interviewed, got the internship, and drove my SUV full of luggage and a heart full of hopes down to Austin...more
"I have seen kids at Club Fun find a safe place to just rest and do something fun with their time off this summer. I can see that they really enjoy this connecting point with SBSK, and I think that these kids will feel more connected to the program during the school year since they saw we were intentional with them during the summer.” -- Michelle Sanchez, Program Coordinator
Did you know that, even during the summer months, Side by Side Kids is hard at work? At SBSK, summer is about more than rest and relaxation. Summer is for science experiments, superhero missions, and so much silliness! Every Thursday this season, we hosted our kiddos at the For the City Center for an afternoon of Club Fun. Each day of Club Fun had a special theme and included a faith-based curriculum component that kept our students in the groove of growing closer to God and learning more about Him. We camped indoors, had a Lego Block Party, refined our cooking skills, and more!
The best thing about Club Fun was watching God move mightily each week in the course of just...more
I began my search for a summer internship knowing I wanted to do something meaningful. I am incredibly passionate about quality education, AND I am about to begin a semester of student teaching, so Side by Side Kids was an obviously perfect fit. Everything I wanted for my summer quickly came within reach as I dove headfirst into a curriculum enhancement project.
Before my first day at Side by Side Kids, I was afraid I would not be much of an asset to the team. After all, I had only taken a few education classes and did not know anything about curriculum other than how to write a basic lesson plan! From the minute I walked into the SBSK Support Center on June 2nd, all those fears were put to rest. The entire Side by Side Kids team rallied behind me in support— physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Within days I truly felt part of the "family.” It was so clear they believed in me and valued me, not because of the work I could produce for them, but because I was their sister in Christ.
Over the summer, I have gotten to know each of...more
Summer is coming to an end and classes are starting soon. You're looking for a job, but not just any part-time gig. You want a job with purpose. You want to serve and give back to your community.
We've got you covered! Side by Side Kids is currently hiring afterschool teachers, affectionately known as “Crew Leaders” by our kids. Here's 10 reasons why you should be a Crew Leader:
1. Up to 20 hours per semester of paid training on concepts like classroom management, engaging students, ministry, and more!
2. The opportunity to know and mentor a class of 10 amazing kids.
3. Work alongside a team of like-minded individuals who will pray with you, laugh with you, and grow with you!
4. Casual work environment—wear jeans and a t-shirt—silliness welcomed!
5. Summers and school holidays off—we follow the university calendar.
6. Work as few as 7 or as many as 16 hours per week.
Calling all prayer warriors! We need YOU! Side by Side Kids will host a prayer rally from 5:30-6:30 P.M. every Monday this August at the For The City Center. Why, you ask?
Well, as I (Piccola Dorsey, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator at Side by Side Kids) was being trained with SBSK to jump into my new role, a coworker shared about some of our needs as an organization, and some of the history of the community we invest in. As she continued to share, I felt this simple idea deposit in my head- why don’t we invite people to pray? With so many things constantly going on around us, sometimes prayer feels too small to stop and do. But the reality is that prayer is the most significant tool in making change and breaking through our areas of need.
With that in mind, we have decided to host a prayer rally for those who love Austin, and love the area of St. Johns. We truly believe that God is preparing to do great things, and we want to welcome it in with prayer! Throughout the month of August, we will pray for our community, our churches, schools, families,...more
This adorable 6-year-old is a student at Webb Primary Elementary. Ariana has been in Side by Side Kids with her two siblings since Spring 2016. She has also joined us this summer for Mega Camp Fun at Austin Christian Fellowship Church, and for Thursdays at our Summer Club Fun! Overall, Ariana loves being a part of Side by Side Kids and has quickly grown in our core values, character and faith.
This summer we have watched her character develop by demonstrating generosity. "At Mega Camp Fun, Arianna was always offering to share her snacks with others! It was nice to see her be willing to give what she had to other students.", said Raquel, Site Coordinator at Webb Primary.
At Summer Club Fun last week, we investigated God's character through prayer and His word. When Michelle, Program Coordinator at Side by Side Kids, asked what she was discovering, Ariana said, “I have learned that God is our Father and He helps us do hard things.” Isn't that encouraging? We love hearing that our kids are discovering the heart of the Father! Please...more
Summers come with much anticipation and glee. Undoubtedly, students have been counting down the days since August until they can regain their freedom. Excitedly, kids talk about their plans - family trips, watching TV, or simply doing nothing at all. It is, for most students, the dream. What may not be the dream, however, is the toll that three months of unengaged learning takes on the their academic achievement.
“Summer Slide” sounds like it should be a fun playground activity, doesn't it? According to Colorado Department of Education, “Summer Slide is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year." For our students, a lack of practice in math and reading, as well as a lack of resources such as books and worksheets, can mean that any progress students made in eight weeks of school is lost...more
Let's back up: Did you know we are trusting God to expand our program into 7 elementary schools by 2020? We actually began expanding last fall across the street from our support center to Webb Primary Elementary! After an incredible first year of expansion, we feel called by God and ready to love more kids in East Austin. This September, Side by Side Kids will launch into our fourth afterschool program at (drum roll please)... Molly Barrington Elementary!
"We had our eyes set on Barrington originally because they are the school from which our Webb students overflow. Barrington is a huge school—just a little bit smaller than J.J. Pickle—and extra students are bussed from Barrington to Webb daily. We thought it would feel natural to be on both ends of the bus route." -Kelsey Storm, Afterschool Program Director
There is currently a lack of afterschool programming at Barrington. The main service offered is about an hour of afterschool care/tutoring led by actual AISD teachers (sacrificing their time). No one goes all the...more
I began working with Side by Side Kids in October 2014 as a part-time Crew Leader (after school teacher) in October 2014. I stumbled upon it on Craigslist, which was so random! Once I figured out that it was a legitimate, faith-based organization I applied and started working a few weeks after that. Prior to working at SBSK, I had just moved back to Austin from California where I had completed two years at a Christian ministry school where I had the opportunity to learn about my identity in Christ, His character as an incredibly good father, and the incredible value of a family and community in Christ. These two years were deeply transformational, and I was given so many tools and keys for my time at SBSK. With all that said, I decided to apply and work for Side by Side Kids because I had a desire to work with kids, and the fact that it was faith-based organization made my heart leap with joy!
I finished the school year with SBSK in May 2015, and I was made aware of the possibility of a full-time...more
Being the Site Coordinator at T.A. Brown Elementary the last 6-months has been Ia lot of fun! It’s fun being able to get to know the kids and watching them grow. It’s fun working with like-minded people who bring Jesus into the lives of others. A union of good, helping and service. You can tell everyone who serves with SBSK is really interested in what they are doing and why they do. It’s the first time I’ve worked somewhere where we have the common goal of serving.
I have seen God at work at SBSK everywhere… that’s what’s so nice about it! God is ingrained in our mission, vision, values and most importantly the people. Which is why community has been so huge for me since I started working at SBSK.
I've specifically seen God at work in one student, Younis. He is a second-grader at my campus. He has the biggest eyes and he’s always so happy. I see God in his joy and he reflects so much of Jesus to me....more
Have you wondered what volunteering at Side by Side Kids is like? Are you interested in impacting the lives of kids in East Austin with the love and truth of the Gospel? Take a look below at what one of our current volunteers Samuel Lee, Human Development & Family Sciences major at the University of Texas at Austin, has explained about his experience here at Side by Side Kids.
“I became interested in volunteering at Side by Side Kids after a couple of my friends from Harvest Missional Community Church told me about an opportunity to work with kids. I have always enjoyed working with kids and I knew that this was something that God called me to do.
During my short time here at Side by Side Kids, I really enjoyed helping the kids with their homework and seeing them grow both academically and spiritually. I especially loved to see kids volunteer to pray and memorize bible verses. One of my favorite things about Side by Side Kids are the themed weeks where the kids learn about topics such as perseverance, graciousness, and confidence. It...more
Raquel (Site Coordinator at Webb Primary) joined the SBSK staff Fall 2015 to help launch our program into our first new school. It has been a rewarding year, where God has been undeniably at work. One way Raquel saw God at work was on her last day of program. Here’s the conversation I had with her about it:
Tell me about your last day on campus!
We had our end of year showcase so it was a little frenzied. We had an amazing turnout, and the kids did great with their performances of what they learned about God this semester! Most families were in attendance - bringing with them an array of authentic Mexican food dishes and desserts for everyone! I felt very special because two of my classes and their parent’s presented me with flower bouquets. Before our summer showcase began, we prayed together and talked about how the Side by Side Kids staff prayed for their kids every day. We talked about how we saw changes in behaviors and more openness relationally in students’ lives. Lastly, we celebrated improved academics! One struggling student in particular,...more
Without the support of AISD teachers like Ms. Spruce (teacher at Webb Primary), we would not be able to ensure that 96% of our kids advance to the next grade level. Here's a sneak peak to what Ms. Spruce had to say in an interview about Side by Side Kids:
1. Have you seen any improvements in your students learning/understanding of course material from your class? Can you attribute those improvements to Side by Side Kids?
One student in particular has struggled throughout the year in being successful in class. She joined SBSK just about a month or two ago and I have seen a huge improvement in her effort and achievement in class. She did not attend afterschool interventions regularly so the only thing I can attribute the change to is her attendance with SBSK. She displays a more positive attitude towards learning and actively participates in class discussions.
2. Have you noticed any behavioral changes in your students who are involved with SBSK? If so, what are they?
The students I teach that attend...more
For Side by Side Kids students, the volunteers, crew leaders, and staff serve as influential leaders who point our kids to Christ. While we are extremely grateful for every individual, current, and past, who has said yes to joining alongside the mission of Side by Side Kids, a noticeable trend has repeatedly manifested in our service patterns--we are lacking male leaders.
Is this really a problem?
According to our 2014-2015 Annual Impact Report, over 120 students were served through our ministry, totaling over 4,000 hours of faith development. Currently, out of the 25 crew leaders employed at Side by Side Kids, less than one-third are males. Though there is a lesser disparity among volunteers who serve, with 10 out of 25 being male, this figure maintains the fact that collectively, males account for less than 20% of those currently serving.
Recent research on boys and men of color by Sáenz & Ponjuán...more
Through selfless instruction, Crew Leaders empower SBSK students with the tools, skills, and spiritual guidance needed to excel as faith-fueled leaders. Hear from Chandler, current Crew Leader and Corporate Communications major at the University of Texas at Austin, on her experience serving at Side by Side Kids.
“In the midst of a busy semester packed with exams, term papers and determining summer plans, I would like to share a highlight of my semester. Throughout the spring semester I had the opportunity to serve the Austin community, grow in my faith and spend my afternoons with young students. I applied to become a Crew Leader for Side by Side Kids because I knew that I wanted to be a part of an organization that worked to improve the Austin community through the Christian faith. Side by Side Kids seemed like the perfect fit. Although it was sometimes difficult to work during a hectic school semester, each afternoon I worked as Crew Leader for Side by Side Kids greatly improved my...more
What really is “Crew Time?” What happens during “Rec Time?” Where do our students' daily snacks/meals come from? We know it might be hard to keep up with the lingo or even grasp what takes place between the hours of 2:45 and 6 pm. Let's break it down.
“Crew Time” - Everyday, we encourage character development among our kids by learning about God and the gospel. During this structured time, our kids are able to hear the Word and apply it to their lives through discussion and activity. Our faithful “Crew Leaders” are paid, part-time teachers who prepare and oversee each class.
“Rec Time” - This component of our program promotes health and wellness through a variety of recreational activities. From team-building sports like soccer and football, to fun activities like hula hoop and four-square.
“Snack Time” - Since 50% of enrolled students at the schools we serve qualify for free or reduced meals, Austin Independent School District has granted...more
What do wagging tails and willing readers have in common? Tuesday afternoons at Webb Primary School!
Every Tuesday, our kids at Webb Primary are graced with the presence of our canine-companion, Fiona the Literacy Therapy Dog. In partnership with Bow Wow Reading Pals and Austin Dog Alliance, our students now have access to an assisted reading comprehension and development program each week.
Together with her owner Ms. Gerrie, Fiona provides an added assistance to the crucial implementation of literacy programs that help our students improve their ability and comfort to read and write.
According to Austin Dog Alliance, Bow Wow Reading Dogs are certified therapy dogs who are trained to sit and listen while students read aloud. Their handlers, who are volunteers made up of retired teachers or principals, have been educated on how to help at-risk students learn to read.
Are there any other added benefits? According to a research study, (1) in addition to lowered blood pressure and anxiety, students who read in the presence of calm animals also display improved...more
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