It’s graduation season—Getting Ahead graduation season, to be exact. Congratulations to all of the graduates in Wichita, Kansas; across the United States; and internationally.

On May 7, 2024, the first spring graduation took place. This class was a collaboration between an elementary school, a church, Bridges ICT, and volunteers. It was the first Getting Ahead class offered to parents from an elementary school in the poorest zip code not only in Wichita but in the state of Kansas. It was uplifting to hear from the children of the investigators. The childcare team created a curriculum for the kids that mirrored what the parents were learning each week.

One graduate called the experience the “gut punch” that was needed to begin to move forward. He congratulated his classmates for showing up and reminded them that showing up is sometimes just the thing that changes lives.

A shout-out to Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson who showed up and has been showing up for the past two years to show his support for Getting Ahead and the investigators. Another shout-out to the two co-facilitators who took on this new adventure together.

May 16 was the date of the second graduation. This collaboration was between two nonprofits: Kansas Children’s Service League and Children First. The co-facilitators were a seasoned facilitator and a first-time facilitator. The graduates wanted a reason to dress up and celebrate; they were able to do both.

Many thanks to Keisha for providing the programming for the children throughout the 16 weeks. Providing a safe learning environment for the kids is just as important as providing a safe environment for the investigators.

 The inspiration of the evening came from seeing the faces of the graduates. Those who chose to share provided positive thoughts about their future as they work to stabilize their lives and the lives of their children.

The aha! Process Getting Ahead program engages investigators (participants) in exploring the realities of poverty in their communities and how those realities impact them. They also explore the causes of poverty, the “hidden rules” of economic class, and ways to develop resources and build stable lives. Getting Ahead graduates build relationships across class lines and often join the decision-making tables in their communities.