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 2014, Martha O’Bryan Center established our Chapter Two initiative, to provide comprehensive job training, career planning, and summer employment opportunities to youth ages 16-24. This work is made possible through a five-year grant from Nashville Career Advancement Center.
In 2014, Martha O’Bryan Center receive a three-year U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice grant, to combat aggression and violence in families, schools, and neighborhoods in East Nashville. We are conducting this work in full partnership with Metro Nashville Police Department, aligned with Mayor Karl Dean’s citywide domestic violence initiative.
The success of Martha O’Bryan Center’s first charter school, East End Preparatory, led us to apply and receive approval to open a second charter. Explore! Community School (opening in 2015) will serve K-8th grade students in East Nashville, using a project-based curriculum that helps students develop a love for learning, improve critical-thinking skills, and master academic and social-emotional building blocks. Throughout 2014, we have planned for Explore’s implementation, securing a building, hiring staff, building curriculum, and recruiting students.
Goals (from Martha O’Bryan Center’s Five-Year Strategic Plan)
Strengthen Financial Resource Base by engaging donors in new ways, developing fee-based services, and creating collaborative funding models.
Improve Organizational Quality and Excellence by strengthening talent support, streamlining organizational communication, better defining organizational culture, and improving cross-program integration.
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 more than 1,000 active volunteers supporting our cradle-to-career continuum of programs. For a full list of volunteer opportunities, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at email@example.com or 615-254-1791 x122.
While service extends to all residents in Davidson County, our primary service is to the approximately 9,000 youth and their families attending the 14 schools in the Stratford cluster of MNPS and Maplewood High School. Currently, our community work focuses on four of the most distressed neighborhoods in Nashville, including Cayce Place, CWA Plaza Apartments, the Shelby Hills neighborhood and Historic Edgefield neighborhood, all within Census tracts 117, 119, 192, and 193.
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 88 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 2014, 100% 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 2014, Tied Together enrolled 118 families and now boasts nearly 450 alumni.
THRIVE provides daily out-of-school time programming to nearly 200 K-8 youth living in and around Cayce Place in East Nashville. THRIVE’s comprehensive academic, social-emotional, and enrichment services prepare students for high school, college, and career and ensure that students become the next generation of empowered and educated Nashville citizens.
Our Reading Achievement Program (RAP) delivers one-on-one and small group literacy and math tutoring services to 320 K-8 students across East Nashville, helping them strengthen core academic knowledge and skills. In 2014, 94% of RAP students improved their reading, including 66% who increased by 1.0 or more grade levels. In math, 98% of students improved, including 68% who increased by 1.0 or more grade levels.
In 2009, we were selected as NAZA’s coordinating agency for the North East Zone, allowing us to expand after-school programming for middle school youth. Each year, the North East Zone supports 250 middle school students.
Our Academic Student Unions (Top Floor at Stratford and College Zone at Maplewood) provide year-round academic case management, tutoring, ACT prep, small-group counseling, job training, and enrichment activities (arts, dance, music, STEM) to nearly 1,000 high school students. In 2014, our Academic Student Unions helped 187 students apply for and receive acceptance to college. These students received a combined $9.8 million dollars in grants and scholarships!
Our Post Secondary Success (PSS) initiative provides first-generation college students with transitional coaching, mentorship, and linkage services throughout their post-secondary careers, to ensure college retention and degree attainment. In 2014, PSS worked with 125 college students enrolled at 12 colleges and universities across Tennessee.
Established in 2014, our Chapter 2 youth employment program provides year-round job training, career planning, and summer employment supports to more than 100 youth ages 16-24.
Our Family & Community Services continuum supports Cayce Place, CWA and East Nashville neighborhoods, 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 2014, 7,698 families accessed these services: 348 accessed Adult Education; 5,772 access our Emergency Food Bank; 541 access our Family Resource Center; 942 accessed Joyful Noise; and 95 accessed Meals on Wheels.
When these services aren’t enough, our Family Support Team, a highly-trained team of social work professionals, helped clients create individualized care plans, to reduce the levels of stress from toxic, to tolerable, and finally, to positive. By creating a wrap-around plan which builds on family’s beliefs, traditions, and strengths, our Family Support Team helped 381 individuals prepare to navigate life’s challenges.
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