St. Croix is a stunningly beautiful paradise with white sandy beaches, lush hills and a fabulous climate. It is also home to many at-risk youth who face a host of challenges that can make their future prospects look bleak. Project Promise was founded in January 2014 to address these many challenges. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of at risk youth through empowerment initiatives, cultural programs and family services.
In January 2016 Project Promise launched the Caterpillar Project, which provides a unique and comprehensive daily program to a pilot group of selected students for eight full years. Designed to truly make a positive difference in these student's lives, the program's holistic approach includes life coaching, mentoring, community service, education intervention, career exploration, personal wellness, creative expression, cultural awareness, and family support services, all centered around a monthly theme.
If the program's first nine months are any indication, the Caterpillar Project is already a success. "We've gotten off to a great start," says Resa O'Reilly, founder and president of Project Promise. "The kids are loving the program! We're already seeing positive change - in academics, self-esteem, attitudes, healthy habits and outlooks." The Caterpillar Project gives participants opportunities to experience things they may not otherwise have experienced. For example, one of the first outings that the group took was to see a local school's production of Cinderella. It was the participants' first experience with live theater. Many of the program's outings have also introduced the children to the island's rich and vibrant culture and history. "Some of the cultural awareness highlights have included touring two plantations, hiking up to a waterfall, touring the island, and enjoying old time stories with a local storyteller", O'Reilly said. The Caterpillar Project hosted a six-week enrichment program this past summer, which focused on the themes of Morals and Family.
Academically the students all receive educational intervention three days a week after school, and are working with a reading specialist who has helped improve their reading skills. The program also provides the students an opportunity to work with a math coach and, as a result, the program has seen jumps in some students' math scores, too. One participant - a little girl who previously hated school - is now so excited about learning and she loves that her scores have dramatically improved.
Community service is a vital part of this multi-systematic approach program. So far the Caterpillars have participated in a Christiansted clean-up, raised $705 for a 6-year-old boy with cancer, read to preschoolers, written letters to deployed soldiers, and more. In terms of career exploration, O'Reilly reports that the Caterpillars have hosted some "awesome" guests. The list includes a pastor, business owner, school principal, chef, radio talk show host and an engineer, who created and coordinated his presentation all the way from Boston to inspire the children that they too can become engineers.
Project Promise's Salt River Bay Program, kicks off its third year in January of 2017. This program is a collaborative effort between Project Promise and the National Park Service which now gives public school fourth-graders the opportunity to visit the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and learn about its history. This three-point program is scheduled to host over 700 of our island's youth. Previously the program served public school sixth-graders.
The community's involvement enables this grassroots organization to positively impact the lives of at-risk youth. "Working together we can change lives and improve our community one youth at a time," O'Reilly says. All contributions are tax deductible. To donate time or money to Project Promise's efforts, visit our website.
P. O. Box 875, Christiansted VI 00821
St. Croix This Week | St. Thomas + St. John This Week
Location: # 1 Havensight Way, St. Thomas, VI 00802
Mailing Address: PO Box 11199 St. Thomas, VI 00801-4199
Telephone: (340) 774-2500
Fax: (340) 776-1466