Project 3000, A Community Response to COVID-19

After receiving our club’s 2020 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award in our November 18 meeting, our fellow Rotarian Floyd Rose spoke about Project 3000: A Community Response to COVID-19.

In response to the pandemic, most area schools last spring turned to virtual learning for the foreseeable future. This transition has presented significant challenges for children and parents, especially those limited-income families with little experience or access to computer-based education.

Dr. Rose explained that 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc., in collaboration with strategic partners in the community, launched Project 3000 to provide technical and conventional solutions to a targeted group of 3,000 low-income families in our community who have been particularly challenged by the abrupt transition to virtual learning. He noted that Rotarians Charles Tubbs and Willy Larkin serve with him on the organization’s board of directors.

100 Black Men of Madison has a legacy of helping youngsters start the school year right. Project 3000 grew out of the organization’s “Backpacks for Success” program, which has provided more than 38,000 free backpacks filled with school supplies to area at-risk youth over the past 25 years. Because of the pandemic, the organization enhanced the project by offering additional forms of support.

Through another program, partners 100 Black Men of Madison and the Urban League of Dane County already provide one-on-one mentoring and wrap-around support services for middle-school students. This year Project 3000 has applied this kind of assistance to kids from kindergarten through high school. The project works to serve the whole child in this special time, Dr. Rose explained, by providing technical support as well as mentoring and educational opportunities for parents. Nutrition is also a focus because school has long been a place where low-income children receive healthy meals.

The efforts of 100 Black Men are making a difference in our community. The Madison chapter helped area high school students win the national organization’s 2020 championship in the “Dollars and $ense” financial literacy program. Each participating student will receive a $4,500 scholarship for their first year of college.

In addition to virtual learning and financial literacy, 100 Black Men focuses on health and wellness for children and their families. Dr. Rose stressed the need for factual communication, and said the group has produced written and virtual communications by experts on such topics as: COVID-19 and high school athletics; talking to your kids about COVID-19; successful virtual learning; and the state of COVID-19 developments.

Dr. Rose said the work of 100 Black Men of Madison is predicated on the four pillars of respect for families, justice, integrity and spirituality. He said this is compatible with Rotary’s 4-Way Test and with the values of Rabbi Manfred E. Swarsensky, who wanted everyone to feel special, to feel they are valued and that they belong.

Our thanks to Floyd Rose for his presentation this week and to Andrea Kaminski for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/HdUALJNFij4.

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