Martha O’Bryan Center is an anti-poverty non-profit with longstanding history and deep community roots, founded on tradition and strengthened by innovation. Our mission began in 1894, when Miss Martha O’Bryan, a retired teacher, organized the Gleaner’s Society at First Presbyterian Church, to support widows and orphans in North Nashville. Less than a generation removed from the civil war that divided our country, Miss O’Bryan sought to heal the divisions created by poverty in our city. The tradition of serving vulnerable families continued after her passing, and in 1948, we built our current location at the top of the hill in Cayce Place, an enclave of 716 public housing units with more than 2,000 residents. This is where we continue in service, creating a “new normal” of attainment and positively shaping future generations.
In January 2015, we began implementation of our Nashville Force for Good project, funded via a three-year U.S. Department of Justice grant. Through Force for Good, we are partnering with Metro Nashville Police Department to implement a place-based strategy to address interpersonal and domestic violence in Cayce Place, including targeted community outreach, violence prevention, and trauma-informed care.
In May 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designated Martha O’Bryan Center one of 15 international Brain Science Cohort members. As part of this cohort, we partner with other high-performing non-profit agencies across the U.S. and Canada to identify and address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in vulnerable populations, sharing best practices and research.
In June 2015, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools approved our application to expand our inaugural charter school, East End Preparatory, from a K-5 to K-8 school, positioning us to give students an uninterrupted, single-site elementary and middle school experience.
Throughout 2015, we continued to develop our Chapter Two program, to provide youth 16-24 with job training supports and employment placements. We have served 130 youth to date this year, including 80 who completed an eight-week paid work experience, 74 who gained employment, and 51 who have maintained employment for three or more months.
Deepen Youth and Adult Employment Services: develop robust employment partnerships through Chapter Two programming (for youth ages 16-24); begin implementation of our Ready, Set, Work! employment program in Napier/Sudekum (for adults, funded by a four-year Jobs Plus grant received in December 2015).
Refine, Integrate, and Scale Programming: refine program models; expand Academic Student Union programming to two additional high school sites and Post-Secondary programming to support twice as many first-generation college students; bring additional services to the Napier/Sudekum community.
Our highest priority at Martha O’Bryan is ensuring that children living in poverty grow up to be well-educated, high school and college graduates who are healthy and employed. We are making great strides. The strategies which address the greatest barriers to healthy families and vibrant communities in East Nashville address inadequate transportation, transitional and educational expenses, affordable childcare, and the lack of a full-service grocery store within walking distance. Small gifts of financial support can have a big impact on need.
§ $5.25 purchases an all day MTA bus pass
§ $10.55 provides a week of meals for the elderly and disabled.
§ $35 covers the cost of a college application
§ $75 covers the cost of a GED exam
§ $105 per month scholarships one child in the Early Learning Center
§ $850 provides 6 weeks of academic summer camp for one youth
Martha O’Bryan Center has nearly 1,700 active volunteers supporting our cradle-to-career continuum of programs. For a full list of volunteer opportunities, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-254-1791 x122.
While service extends to all residents in Davidson County, our primary service is to the approximately 10,000 youth and their families attending the 14 schools in the Stratford cluster of MNPS and Maplewood High School. Currently, our community work focuses on two of the most distressed neighborhoods in Nashville, Cayce Place and Napier/Sudekum.
The Board of Directors clearly understands that Martha O’Bryan Center is a strong non-profit performer, responsive to neighborhood needs as well as city priorities. In this, our 120th year of serving Nashville’s most vulnerable families, we find ourselves evaluating our tremendous growth over the past 12 years (218%). As an organization focused on deep and meaningful community change, we are working with national experts to ensure that the governance structure between community centers and schools is efficient and streamlined. Our successes have been built by the historically strong guidance and support of our Board and the dynamic subject matter expertise and visionary leadership of our staff.
Martha O’Bryan Center’s Early Learning Center (ELC) provides high quality early education opportunities to 100 children six weeks to five years old in six classrooms. The ELC has consistently maintained a three-star rating by the State of Tennessee since 2002 and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, an honor earned by less than 6% of childcare providers in our state. In 2015, 94% of our Pre-K students met national benchmarks for reading readiness, measured by the Get Ready to Read assessment.
Tied Together is Martha O’Bryan Center’s ten-week parenting program, designed to help young families support the physical and social-emotional heath of their child. Tied Together combines four core strategies: prevention and early intervention, empowerment and strengthening, development of supportive social networks, and promotion of broad community change. In 2015, Tied Together enrolled 88 families and now boasts more than 500 alumni.
THRIVE Youth Development offers dedicated out-of-school time programming to 350 vulnerable K-8 students at seven school and community sites (Martha O’Bryan Center, Explore! Community School, Napier Elementary, Rosebank Elementary, Warner Elementary, Bailey Middle, and Litton Middle), providing rigorous academic interventions, college prep workshops, civic engagement projects, and STEM/arts enrichment activities. Conducting programming on-site at community schools gives us the opportunity to build key partnerships with school faculty and makes us more accessible to students. Programming runs Monday through Thursday, from 3-7pm during the school year and from 9am-4pm during summer months.
85% of THRIVE students will increase their reading skills by at least 1.0 grade level, measured by the STAR Early Literacy or STAR Reading assessment, and 80% of THRIVE students will increase their math skills by at least 1.0 grade level, measured by the STAR Math assessment.
85% of THRIVE students will improve coping skills, healthy social-emotional behaviors, and resiliency, measured by pre/post assessments.
85% of THRIVE students will increase knowledge of individual gifts/talents and future careers by participating in career exploration courses, measured by pre/post assessments.
Our Academic Student Unions provide year-round academic case management, subject-specific tutoring, homework help, ACT preparation, social-emotional counseling, computer literacy courses, job training workshops, paid work experiences, college visits, and enrichment activities (arts, civics, dance, music, STEM) to nearly 900 vulnerable high school students.
Post-Secondary Success provides 150 low-income, first-generation college students with transitional coaching, mentorship, and wrap-around service referrals throughout their post-secondary careers, to ensure retention and degree attainment.
Chapter Two provides year-round work readiness and college-to-career supports that engage 120 in-school and out-of-school youth ages 16-24, preparing them for success in the 21st Century economy.
100% of core high school participants (250 of 250) will develop an Success Plan that includes milestones such as improving grades, increasing ACT scores, exploring career paths, applying to colleges, receiving admission to colleges, and completing financial aid paperwork.
98% of high school seniors (245 of 250) will graduate from high school.
80% of high school graduates (196 of 245) will receive acceptance to college.
75% of high school graduates (147 of 196) will officially enroll in college.
80% of core college students (48 of 60) will expand awareness of how they study and learn by completing the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory.
80% of core college students (48 of 60) will maintain routine contact with their coach.
70% of core college students (42 of 60) will successfully complete their current academic year (or graduate).
Since 2010, Stratford and Maplewood’s graduation rates have increased by 11.9% and 20.5% respectively, compared to the 3.1% district average.
Staff helped 197 students apply for and receive acceptance to college in 2015, representing 62% of Stratford’s and 56% of Maplewood’s senior class. Both schools had rates in the 13th percentile when we began programming.
Staff helped students apply for and obtain $10 million dollars in financial aid, placing Stratford and Maplewood at 5th and 6th in the district.
Our Clinical & Community Services support Cayce Place and Napier/Sudekum families, putting community voice and choice at the center of all activities, igniting the flame of learning for adults and children alike, providing a real safety net for those in dire or immediate need.
In 2015, 7,698 families accessed these services: 329 accessed Adult Education; 470 accessed Joyful Noise; and 7,037 accessed Family Support Team services (crisis intervention, counseling, domestic violence prevention, ACEs prevention, trauma-informed care, emergency food, Meals on Wheels, Family Resource Center).
250 economically disadvantaged adults will take the HiSET Official Practice Test or Official State of Tennessee High School Equivalency Exam.
75 economically disadvantaged adults will enroll for academic support and testing preparation on MOBC's High School Equivalency track.
60 economically disadvantaged students who take the HiSET Official Practice Test will develop a post-secondary success plan.
30 economically disadvantaged adults will obtain a State of Tennessee High School Equivalency Diploma by passing the HiSET.
20% increase in participants receiving services (year-to-year)
30% increase in participants receiving domestic violence services (year-to-year)
Marsha Edwards has led MOBC since 2001, emphasizing financial responsibility, quality programming, and fund development. Her background as a litigation attorney, small business owner/entrepreneur and education advocate has spurred her vision to build a broad continuum of services to support all children educationally and socially. Under her leadership MOBC has tripled its budget, filled many gaps in the MOBC Highway of Services, developed school and community-based programs, and launched an elementary charter school in East Nashville.
Marsha serves on the Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Champions business committee that works to engage the business community in support of reform of our comprehensive high schools into small learning academies.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Marsha received her undergraduate degree from Warren Wilson College. She is married to Eric Vaughter, has 2 sons and 2 daughters, and resides in Brentwood, TN.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
With global competition, technological changes and the growth of knowledge- and service-based economies, even entry-level jobs require more advanced skills than they did several decades ago. There is great demand for workers with education, skills training or both, but jobs that require only a high school diploma are disappearing, or the wages they pay are dropping. Schools offer limited vocational training, and graduates often lack the practical job skills employers need.
In Tennessee, gang presence has been on the rise since the late 1980s and early 1990s, when gangs first made a concerted push into the state. Since 2011, police have identified at least 5,000 gang members in Davidson County, and gang-related crimes have increased by 25%. Meanwhile, cities with 50,000 or fewer inhabitants have seen gang-related crimes triple in frequency nationally since 2005.
One million more people will move to the Middle Tennessee region before 2035, making the lack of public transportation in this area a significant and pressing issue. Consensus is growing that expanded transportation options will be critical both to our future economic stability and growth, as well as the environmental well-being of our region.
The need for better mobility in and access to small urban and rural communities is placing new emphasis on the availability of public transportation services, as this will be essential in sustaining and guiding growth in flourishing areas as well as revitalizing areas that continue to struggle.
Copyright © 2014 The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Nashville, TN 37215