by Betsy Natter
Extracurricular activities have repeatedly been proven to provide significant benefit to students as part of their developmental and educational process. But what about the students who are unable to afford the sometimes prohibitive costs of taking an art class or participating on a sports team? In Quakertown, the gap between desire and ability to participate is where Pride of Quakertown steps in.
Founded in 2010 by Jen Reich and her brother-in-law Kevin Reich, the non-profit organization has provided over $190,000 in scholarship funds to children in need throughout the Quakertown Community School District. Desiring to provide increased opportunities to children in their local area, the organization raises funds to cover the expense of things like music, dance or art lessons, karate classes, registration fees for sports teams, horseback riding lessons and any associated equipment that might be necessary to participate in an activity.
Pride of Quakertown or POQ works closely with guidance counselors in the school district to identify at need children in order to determine and then support their desire in participating in some type of extracurricular activity. Counselors help families to submit their application requests to POQ. Case managers from POQ then work with local organizations to get the children participating and then follow up to ensure their success in the programs they choose.
The organization raises funds by seeking out corporate sponsorships from area businesses as well as through direct contributions from interested donors. Through their Sponsor a Child Program, donors can contribute specific amounts, knowing that a child’s request for a specific class or lesson will be met. For example, $25 will pay for a dance class for one month and $75 will cover a karate class for the same period.
Throughout the year, special events raise additional funds to help meet students’ needs. Activities such as the Bowling Extravaganza, Beef and Beer, Flag Football and Softball Tournaments and the annual Dash & Dip 5K not only raise funds but also develop a sense of connectedness and community among participants. As the organization states, “our goal is to foster fellowship and enhance the spirit of community among residents of Quakertown…Children who are raised with a strong sense of community pride become adults ready to continue the traditions they experienced as youth.”
If you are interested in learning more or volunteering with the organization visit their website at www.prideofquakertown.org.