Student organization serving refugee children

A local, student-run nonprofit helps young refugees find new and better lives. JaxTHRIVE welcomes refugee children to America through tutoring and mentoring.

Founded in 2017 as an in-person Saturday individual learning program, the organization transitioned to virtual tutoring with the emergence of COVID-19. While eager to return to in-person tutoring, JaxTHRIVE found that by offering a virtual option, it could engage volunteers and refugee students from around the world.

The charity partners with Lutheran Social Services, Kim’s Open Door and other refugee resettlement organizations to make a difference. More recently, he announced a new partnership in Miami with the Refugee Assistance Alliance.

JaxTHRIVE enjoys a current virtual enrollment of 25 students, but expects that number to grow as more refugees with Special Immigrant Visas for Afghanistan are resettled in the United States.

The JaxTHRIVE Board of Directors is led by Co-Chairs Hope Freedman and Alexis Magnano who strive to bring together a talented and diverse group of individuals to engage their community, demonstrate leadership and work together to spread their mission. The nonprofit organization offers comprehensive services, including SAT/ACT test preparation, financial literary boot camps, and college admissions strategies in addition to academic tutoring. Its goal is to help students progress in the classroom and thrive in the community.

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped JaxTHRIVE from pursuing its goals. The organization has launched various special service projects such as “Holiday in a Bucket” to provide its volunteers with additional ways to contribute. Volunteers were matched with either newly arrived families from Afghanistan or foster children from Jewish Family Services. Buckets were decorated and filled with gift items and homemade treats to share among families. Girl Scout Troop 27 helped out by organizing a clothing drive. The clothes were distributed with the buckets.

Many Afghan families in Jacksonville have been granted special status because they risked their lives to help our American soldiers.

In November, with funds awarded by America’s Promise Power of Youth Award, JaxTHRIVE partnered with Lutheran Social Services and Student Refugees for a lunch in the park and a visit to the Cummer Museum.

JaxTHRIVE recently received a grant through the Whole Foods Market Community Giving Program, which aims to support the local community. So they teamed up with Lutheran again to coordinate a field trip to visit Sweet Pete’s, the largest candy store in the southeastern United States. A master confectioner took the teens to a candy cane workshop and afterwards they were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the candy factory.

JaxTHRIVE volunteers have also helped set up new apartments for families coming from Afghanistan.

On January 29, JaxTHRIVE is planning a winter festival to celebrate the relaunch of the in-person tutoring program in partnership with Kim’s Open Door, though it will continue to offer virtual tutoring.

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