“Education is the front line when it comes to closing gaps,” a powerful statement by LOTUS leaders. That’s what keeps them going—connecting people, raising awareness, and providing opportunities to those from different backgrounds. The ultimate goal? Enhance quality of life and empower children to “identify and claim what’s rightfully theirs.”
Founded in 2011, LOTUS was born out of the desire to close the academic, economic, and gender gaps prevalent within marginalized communities in the United States. Evan Sledge, executive director of LOTUS, envisioned a space where they could implement different pedagogical approaches and learning methods to encourage kids in their formative years, fostering lifelong “learnership for one to become a lifelong learner.” How? Through engaging, hands-on, and heuristic activities for students. These initiatives are pivotal for connecting the children’s passions with the academic realm.
LOTUS provides opportunities through engaging workshops, classes, and programs. When we asked about their most successful programs, they couldn’t pick just one. Both the One-on-One Mentoring Program and Camp Flight came to mind.
One-on-One Mentoring Program
Conversations are always a great way to address challenging topics, create awareness, and reinforce positive ideas presented by students’ families. That’s what this program is all about—creating dialogue within a safe place for kids, a place to be vocal about their needs and wants. The feedback has been rewarding. Some of the students who have attended the Mentoring Program by LOTUS have earned higher education degrees.
Camp Flight was years in the making. As summer camps are kids’ favorite, they’re going to have a blast for sure! However, by using AfterSchool HQ, the LOTUS team was able to completely personalize it by creating modules to structure the camp in a very flexible way.
Parents can mix and match the weeks, as each offers different activities. If a family is leaving town for a summer holiday, Camp Flight is the perfect choice. Parents can tailor the camp to fit their scheduling needs. For parents, it’s a unique enrichment experience at an affordable price. Some of the activities aren’t commonly known or accessible to their community, such as rowing. Other activities were created in partnership with other organizations.
LOTUS’s Partnership with AfterSchool HQ
Before AfterSchool HQ, LOTUS managed administrative tasks with Google Sheets, Excel, and old-school pen and paper. But there came a time when these methods were not enough nor effective for the team, so they decided to jump into “a more comprehensive system to capture various metrics and parent information.”
Introducing AfterSchool HQ to their daily management was a perfect solution for the LOTUS team. They are now able to log in and manage attendance, payments, parent contacts, and other essential details. “It has been a tremendous help in keeping our system organized,” said Evan Sledge during the interview. Then he highlighted two of the most useful tools:
1. Children Profiles
There’s no need to fill out the same registration form over and over again. With AfterSchool HQ, they can create a profile for the kids and sign them up for recurring programs and activities. The result? Painless registration, as easy as a few clicks.
2. Financial Tracking
AfterSchool HQ offers flexibility for the financial aspect of program management by offering different payment options, such as one-time payments as well as free or paid events.
LOTUS has seen significant improvement in attendance tracking, a matter of utmost importance not only to check the program’s impact but also for grant applications. For potential donors, statistics related to the number of students and hours spent are important to understand the after-school program’s impact. Thankfully, AfterSchool HQ compiles all the necessary information into concise and ready-to-use reports.
More about LOTUS
LOTUS is an acronym for ‘Lifting Ourselves Through Us,’ where ‘us’ represents the community. For Aaron Ireland and Evan Sledge, LOTUS is their way of assisting and creating positive academic spaces for people from marginalized and underserved communities. While LOTUS is based in Chicago, Illinois, they offer virtual programs for everyone—such as their Virtual Chess Course—and they aim to expand to other states.