Three Faces of Sustaining Support
Making sure Columbus’ inner-city youth have access to an above the bar education and life-changing spiritual community already takes a village. But what happens when a pandemic introduces tremendous global economic uncertainty to the students and families who still rely on our small school to be there for them? Throughout 2020-21, Harambee champions have demonstrated an awe-inspiring show of financial support to our school, students, and families. For perspective, the current annual tuition for a student to attend Harambee is $7,580. A large majority of Harambee students receive the Ohio EdChoice Voucher, which provides $4,650 towards that amount. We don't ask families to make up the difference but instead partner with generous supporters to ensure that at-risk students can attend Harambee at no cost. According to Operations & Stewardship Director, Michael Larson, “Monthly-givers, specifically, play a significant role in ensuring the stability and sustainability of our mission, and
it is exciting to see God knit together gifts of all shapes and sizes to meet this important need, especially during the pandemic, so that Harambee students can continue to attend at no cost to their families. But what type of person has the capacity and desire to continue their support, while undoubtedly experiencing specific hardships, themselves? We did a little digging and discovered three types that stood out (though we are sure there are many more!)
Those Personally Impacted - Harambee Alumni Become Donors
One of the most exciting things we’ve seen in recent years is Harambee’s own alumni turn around and invest in younger generations of students, both financially and as mentors and Bible study leaders. Jahlaya Gumbs is one such example. Jahlaya attended Harambee through fifth grade. Now 22, she has become a proud financial partner in the ministry.
When asked what compelled her to become a monthly giver, Jahlaya said this:
“I feel really convinced that investing in people's spiritual life as early as possible can protect them from a lot of pain and suffering the world has to offer. As a child there is no way I would know just how much the teachers and staff at Harambee would impact the type of person I would become today. Although there is plenty of hardship I have encountered, I look at the lives of many friends who grew up in different circumstances and thank God for putting me in a place that truly protected me in so many ways. Harambee creates a physical environment and a spiritual setting in which I was able to pursue education and foster my relationship with God. I want to see black people from low income areas being raised up into spiritual leadership, and that is a big goal Harambee pursues in Columbus. I decided to give to the ministry because I want to see more kids who grew up like me, grow into godly people that are intensely invested in eternity. And if I'm not playing a direct role in that, I'm going to give my money and pray for the people who are.”
Currently, in addition to Jahlaya, four other Harambee alumni give back to the ministry financially, and we couldn’t think of any other gifts more precious than theirs.
Those God Has Called for the Long Haul:
While many have become monthly donors over the past several years, some monthly donors have supported the ministry for decades.
Marge Dorman is one such supporter. Marge has been a part of Urban Concern since its inception in the early 90s. And the reason she got involved then is one of the same reasons that sustains her support today:
“Jesus teaches us to love and serve those who are less fortunate. I want to keep being a part of God’s good work, and it is edifying to watch all of the teachers, staff, and volunteers bring honor to God through their hard work.”
Marge’s own faithfulness is something that we praise and thank God for, ourselves. She still maintains a friendship with the first student she mentored 27 years ago in the After School Program, who was in second grade at the time and now has daughters of her own.
Those Who Want to Make A Difference:
In addition to those personally involved in the ministry, today’s climate fraught with racial tensions and injustice has compelled many to make a difference in any way they can. Home church leaders, Pat & Abigail Reeder, are one such couple who have taken the initiative to become monthly partners with Harambee.
According to them:
“Going to Columbus schools, I (Pat) noticed that a number of my classmates did not experience the same advantages that I did. This, together with some volunteer work with Urban Concern, I developed a conviction to play some part in solving some of the problems of urban poverty and the tough racial issues nearby. Our family is especially concerned to give in ways that benefit the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Harambee's record of long-term spiritual and community investment provides us with just such an opportunity.”
Fortunately for our students, dozens of others have followed the same call answered by the Reeders to make a meaningful difference in both the lives and eternities of Columbus’ inner-city youth. We thank God for the opportunity to partner with many spiritually and socially-minded individuals to help us offer real hope to those who are hurting through the Good News of Jesus Christ and an education that helps students break the cycle of poverty and become a new generation of leaders.
The Future of Sustaining Support at Harambee - Launching Our New Monthly Hope-Builders Program
In 2021, we are excited to launch a revamped monthly giving program called Hope Builders. Hope builders will begin receiving personal impact reports that help quantify the direct impact of their personal giving.
Also, each week, one Hope Builder will be randomly selected to receive their own Harambee Coffee Mug and a bag of our Harambee Imports “Sankofa” blend coffee that supports or student-run business and school economy. Granted, this is a comparably small way to say thanks for the remarkable impact made through monthly givers, but we know without a doubt they value the faithful stewardship of their gifts in making an impact both in our community and in eternity.
Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of Columbus inner-city youth through monthly giving? Reach out to Michael Larson by email or by calling 614.291.0885 ex. 4140. Recurring gifts can be set up securely through our website, or can be allocated to UC & Harambee through Dwell Community Church.