TOPEKA – The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) has recognized the efforts of the Neighborhood Empowerment and Transformation (NET) Reach organization with an $81,911 check to help families in the struggling Highland Crest (Hi-Crest) neighborhood in southeast Topeka.
Hi-Crest has 92 percent childhood poverty rate, the highest number of Children in Need of Care reports and the highest number of children in foster care in Topeka and Shawnee County. NET Reach is dedicated to improving the lives of the estimated 5,700 residents living in Hi-Crest. The check DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore presented NET Reach today will help with outreach, parent education, mentoring, job readiness and more.
“DCF is proud to be a partner in this effort to improve the lives of children and families living in poverty.” Secretary Gilmore said. “We look forward to creating a brighter future for those who are currently struggling.”
NET Reach celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony this afternoon and hosted an open house at its headquarters, the former Avonodale East Elementary School at 455 SE Golf Park Blvd., in Topeka. Since the group’s formation approximately one year ago, more than 400 volunteers from a wide range of organizations have helped to provide residents in the neighborhood with the resources they need to escape poverty and crime as they embrace opportunities to improve their circumstances.
“I’m encouraged by the work being done in the Hi-Crest neighborhood,” Governor Sam Brownback said. “I look forward to the success that NET Reach will achieve and am hopeful that other communities will do the same to help their neighbors.”
Topeka Rescue Mission Executive Director Barry Feaker has played a leading role in the creation of NET Reach. He is excited to receive the support from the State of Kansas to positively impact the Hi-Crest neighborhood.
“It’s time to try something different that will have a lasting impact for the betterment of the lives of our fellow neighbors who are suffering,” Feaker said. “No one organization or effort holds the key to all the answers, but collaboratively bringing our experiences, ideas and resources to the table will have a chance to make the true difference that is needed.”
The grant funds provided by DCF will be used to recruit and train mentors through the Connections to Success program. Connections to Success will provide services to 50 individuals and families. The curriculum consists of mentoring, classes, workshops and community events. DCF will monitor community level changes such as recidivism, homelessness, poverty rate, rate of employment, rates of those receiving government assistance, children in out-of-home placements, divorce and family composition.
The grant funds are provided through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The grant is effective through next August.