Core Community Program to Start in Bourbon County

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Fort Scottian Jennifer Michaud attended a seminar several years ago where Deborah Factor spoke about the Core Community program, her husband Bill said.
The mission for Core Comunity is to engage the community to lift families out of poverty,  according to
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Factor started with a youth mentorship program and then added the Core Communities program, to help families as well,
Bill Michaud,  said in an interview with
Bill Michaud. Submitted photo.
“I have been in contact with and getting to know Deb for…several years,” Bill said. “I recognized that poverty is an issue that is well documented and often discussed in southeast Kansas but I’m not aware of any programs that work so directly to hit the issue head-on. I believe that this is a program that has great potential to help change peoples lives so I brought it up a few times during different community-focused conversations in which I was involved over a several year period.”
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A small group of people came to see the potential that Bill Michaud saw, so there were a couple of follow-up informational meetings.
“In February Jennifer and I, Rachel Carpenter, Lindsay McNeil, Lisa Robertson and Destry Brown traveled to Greensburg, Kansas to attend one of Deb’s regular Monday class sessions and were able to see the program in action and hear more stories of lives impacted first-hand,” Michaud said.
  “In March we asked Deb to come to Fort Scott to present to a larger group of church representatives, social service organizations and anyone else we thought might have an initial interest in learning about the program,” Bill Michaud said.  “(Bourbon County Commissioner) Clifton Beth was in attendance at that presentation and at the conclusion, asked Deb to set a time to do an abbreviated presentation to the county commission.”
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In April, Bill Michaud and Deb Factor(on a Zoom call) presented to the commission on the Core Community Ministry.

Factor stated she started in 1998 in Greensburg,  doing ministry for youth, according to the commission minutes. During the process she had kids she worked with for years walk into adulthood and follow in the cycle of poverty.

Factor said that her goal was to help the kids grow into healthy, thriving adults who can give back in their community and not be under the constant burden and struggle of poverty, according to the commission minutes.

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In 2015, after modeling a program that had been successful elsewhere, she launched the poverty program, Core Community.

They have 13 programs in Kansas and one in Illinois currently.

The program consists of weekly meetings, 48-50 weeks per year, and will continue to meet with the individuals for two to five years. The program tries to educate the community on what poverty really is, according to the county commission minutes.

Factor told the commission the program identifies barriers and helps people push through them, with 70 %  increasing their income.

Core Community is tracking  those that are out of poverty for ten years to gather data to see if they are maintaining the upward trajectory.

The first step in bringing the program to the community is fundraising. Then a community coordinator would be hired and reside in the county with CORE Community being their employer, and an advisory board formed.

Michaud said this is a fundraising-based organization and would not  ask the county for money to sustain the program.

Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth said he worked in home health and hospice in southeast Kansas and saw first-hand the poverty that residents are facing and would like to see the school district, college and city government come together to make this program happen, according to the commission minutes.

Michaud stated about five churches in Fort Scott have been asked to become involved.

The Bourbon County Commission in a vote of 2-1 voted to give Core Community program $50,000 to get it started in this community.

Nelson Blythe voted against it, stating that “he doesn’t believe charity is the role of government, and there is nothing stopping others in the community from writing a check.” Nelson stated “This is taxpayer’s money that should go toward making the courthouse run and roads better”, according to the commission minutes.

The county’s Chief Financial Officer Susan Bancroft,  stated the money would come from PILOT funds received  from the windmill money to the county for economic development, according to the commission minutes.

There is a requirement to have approximately the first years budget raised before launching the program, Michaud said in an interview.  This could take up to 18 months.
“Before we launch our program in Bourbon County we are going to work to identify what sustainable funding sources we think we will be able to count on to fund the program in future years,” Michaud said in an interview.
The City of Fort Scott and the Bourbon County Commission have approved money to help with start up costs.
The city has approved $15,000 and will be meeting with the Core Community representatives on May 18, FS City Manager Brad Matkin said.
“The City and County funding that has been approved are remarkable gifts that will allow us to get this program launched and accelerate the time frame for this program to begin helping people, but this program is not one that we anticipate will require future city / county funding,” Michaud said.   “We have developed an advisory board that consists of representatives of several church and social service organizations so that we have input from a very broad base of representatives.   This…board will also guide the organization once we launch the program.”
Michaud can be reached at [email protected].

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