GNM Outreach | Middle School Success & Nature


November 17, 2016

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-Growth Through United Way-

United Way LogoLast year Green Nature Marketing along with some of our brand representatives were very fortunate to spend some quality time with United Way and the Enka Middle School staff.  From learning of the hardships that face many kids in Western North Carolina to painting the halls and providing food donations, we understood the need and felt how the power of people, places and pride can have such a positive impact.  This years outreach effort was no different, and was also spent on site at an Asheville and Buncombe County Middle School.

The Charles D. Owen Middle School is another school home to a high percentage of food insecure children.  Of the 570 students roughly 60% are on free or reduced lunch!  Additionally, many of the Owen Middle School students are part of the Manna Packs Program through Manna Food Bank. This program distributes packs of food to 1600 children in Buncombe County every weekend.  Due to deep generational poverty, kids in this area will continue to need the same support, but the reach of that support is growing.  We learned that Owen Middle School will soon be the 4th middle school to be added to United Way’s Middle School Success Initiative.  This program focuses on finding and helping at risk students before it is too late!

Why Middle School?  Educators say it is the “last best time” to ensure that kids are solidly prepared to successfully navigate high school and make it to graduation.  All students face challenges, but those who live in poverty must navigate significantly more obstacles in order to make it to graduation.  Research tells us that if a student hits one or more of the following indicators during their middle school years, their likelihood of graduation without intervention can drop to 25 percent:

  • Attendance – missing 18 days (10 percent)
  • Behavior – two or more behavioral referrals
  • Course performance – failing a core subject such as English or math

The key to changing this outcome is intervention, but to be fair to the kids, we can’t just focus on supporting them.  We have to work with families and their neighboring community if they are to have a full chance at success.


Owen Middle School has also introduced their own initiative to reintroduce students to nature.  Their Natural Impact Initiative will focus on developing the schools property to better serve the students.  Besides protecting the largest beaver damn in the area, they will continue to put the property to use to better provide and support educational needs of their students. Feeling at home in nature, the Green Nature team put in a solid effort on the Appalachian Garden and other areas of the Owen Middle School courtyard.  Collectively we wish we could have spent more time, but appreciate the opportunity!  Like last year, the value was not just felt in our food donations, but the time we spent to improve the schools surroundings, to hopefully provide excitement and comfort at a critical time for these middle school kids.

We believe and share in United Way’s mission that “no single individual or organization can accomplish wide scale community change alone. We are stronger, more powerful, when we work together!” Thanks to United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and the staff at Owen Middle School. We wish you all the best and look forward to connecting next year!


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