Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., was the recent recipient of the City of Holland’s Social Justice Award for Education. The church received the award for their after-school tutoring program.
For the past several years, the STEP (Students and Tutors for Educational Progress) program has matched roughly 25 middle school students from Holland East K-7 Public School with tutors—many of them former educators from the congregation as well as Hope College students. The church pays for students’ transportation from school to the church, and church members also provide healthy snacks for the twice-weekly sessions.
The goal of the program is to help at-risk students complete homework, improve their study skills, raise their grades, and gain confidence. STEP has become so in demand that there is a student waiting list.
“[STEP] is special in the fact that it is a cooperative effort between the East School, Hope College, and Fourteenth Street CRC,” said program director Bob Doan. “The award shows that this church is a valuable resource in the heart of the city and its members are committed to its ever-changing population.”
Each year, the City of Holland’s Human Relations Commission honors community members and organizations who promote social justice and demonstrate service to the city’s diverse population in four categories—education, housing, employment, and government/community relations.
Marv Hofman, pastor at Fourteenth Street, said, “It is a high honor to be recognized. We attribute the excellence of this program to hard work, good leadership, and persistence over several years.”
One of the dedicated tutors is 90-year-old Clare Pott, a retired math teacher from Holland Christian Schools. The students “reward his work with improved grades,” said Hofman. “They have such respect for Clare that some of them attended the visitation for his wife at her death one year ago.”
Doan hopes receiving the award will generate additional volunteers so that STEP can continue to serve even more students.