Over the past week our school community, along with the rest of the world, has experienced changes implemented due to the current crisis. We have been working to help our families who have been given free hot meals every weekday since last Wednesday. An average of 90 meals are served each day. It is both heartwarming and bittersweet to catch quick glimpses of our families at the drive-through meal pick-up line. We continue to assess their needs daily and provide assistance. We are immensely grateful to all of you who have volunteered your time, provided financial support, or called/texted/emailed to offer assistance during this time. Keep it up! 

The teaching staff returns to campus today to plan for our distance learning program. In an effort to further support our families, VMA will need to distribute tablets and laptops to our families and we will also help them secure internet access in their homes. The children are excited and eager to engage with their teachers and return to learning.

Of course, we’ve cancelled SHINE On!, our annual fundraiser, that was scheduled for April 17 th . We were particularly excited for this year’s event because our special guest, Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, was going to travel from South Africa to join us. We are hopeful that Ndaba will come visit us for a different VMA event in the months ahead.

It is important to mention that the funds raised through SHINE On! have provided approximately 25-30% of our operating budget in each of the last 4 years. The event not only helps us properly serve our students and families, it is critical to our very existence.

For this reason, SHINE On! becomes SHINE Online! This ongoing campaign will help fund our areas of greatest need. While we would have loved to gather together in celebration of our mission, SHINE Online! will enable us to continue to serve our students and families in the best way possible. With your help, SHINE Online! will ensure continued impact and provide outstanding educational opportunities to our boys.

While we are are in response-mode here assisting our families, we are also thinking of all of you - our extended family in our community and beyond who are the key reason our mission has been so successful. Stay healthy and keep in touch.

With gratitude,
Neil Phillips
Co-Founder & CEO
Visible Men Academy