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Why Genesis Started Showing Up to School

Genesis at Ida B. Wells

Cultivating healthy coping skills in the face of adversity catalyzes growth and builds resilience.

Meet Genesis, an honor roll student and an employed student assistant at the Urban Services Y’s academic credit recovery and culinary arts program at Ida B. Wells High School who loves cooking up specialty treats for her fellow students.  

Two years ago, Genesis was facing adversity preventing her from being able to graduate on time at 15 years old.

After deciding that school was not for her, Genesis accepted failure and only intermittently attended school to avoid being in trouble with the law. Being labeled a “truant student” meant that Genesis was referred to the Y’s Truancy Assessment and Resource Center (TARC), a one-stop resource center delivering truancy intervention services through case management to youth who are habitually or chronically truant.

Her TARC case manager and now Ida B. Wells High School Afterschool coordinator, Ruben acknowledged her unique struggles and identified ways to support her academic progress and emotional well-being.

Step 1 - Understand the barriers motivating Genesis to skip school.

Ruben's plan involved building a trusting relationship with Genesis to understand what experiences brought her to Ida B. Wells High School. For Genesis, being from a single-parent immigrant family and seeing her mother work multiple jobs to support her family motivated her to find employment, which translated into skipping school. Barriers such as employment age restrictions, combined with tagging along with fellow peers skipping school, found Genesis spiraling toward becoming a high school dropout.  

Step 2 - Build a trusting relationship and encourage Genesis to attend school.

With that understanding, Ruben cultivated a rapport with Genesis over time and engaged with her every time she came to school, even if her attendance was only one to three days per week.

Step 3 - Having a consistent adult invested in her future.

By consistently engaging Genesis, Ruben helped transform her school-skipping habits and renewed her motivation to prioritize her education.

"Our YMCA program at Ida B. Wells has created a culture where students can openly receive support for various social and academic needs. Ruben has created a space where students can save each other and ourselves."

- Genesis Gonzalez

Two years later, not only is Genesis going to graduate, but she has become a role model to her peers showing them how to overcome adversity to find a path for personal success. ​In walking this hopeful path of self-empowerment, Genesis sets a courageous example. Her strength empowers others to succeed.

Help the Y build greater capacity to support students like Genesis.

Your help will connect struggling teens to resources that allow them to discover personal strengths, build positive relationships, and become uplifted by the possibility of a bright future.  

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