In its February 11, 2020 article (‘Beaufort Co. after-school program may be forced to relocate third site in two years” – see link below), the Island Packet’s motive regarding the Neighborhood Outreach Connection (NOC) is not clear. The focus of the article in negative, and does not address the many positive impacts that NOC has had on low-income neighborhoods and the families, especially the children, who live there.
The article overlooks the fact that since 2008, NOC has worked relentlessly — with help from donors, partners, friends, and dedicated staff and volunteers – to support children and families in underserved neighborhoods. Many of these children and families, who live under the burden of poverty and face significant transportation constraints, want opportunities and help to enjoy a better quality of life. Over the past 11 years, NOC has made a difference in the lives of many children, families, and communities through its now seven learning centers in Beaufort County. NOC has established a viable business model, a strong foundation, and a standard of integrity. This has allowed NOC to build strong relationships with people in low-income neighborhoods and help them progress. NOC targets only neighborhoods to which it has been invited and plans to stay there only until its services are no longer needed. Moreover, NOC places high priority on ensuring that its learning centers are accessible and safe for the children and families, as well as its staff and volunteers.
During the last three years, NOC has faced dynamic changes that are taking place because of gentrification, as investors invade underserved neighborhoods and convert affordable housing for working families and retirees with modest income, in favor of short term rentals, including Airbnb.
NOC abides by existing laws and works closely with Beaufort County and Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Beaufort municipalities to find solutions that help children and families who are in need. More than 40% of minority children, accounting for more than 52% of the total school population of 22,000 in Beaufort County, are not at grade level in either math, reading, or language arts. NOC will continue to work with other service providers and partners to address this challenge.
Island Packet (02/11/2020): Beaufort Co. after-school program , Feb 11, 2020