Some children have soccer practice or band rehearsal after school. But for many students at Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), free time is spent working in Florida fields alongside their migrant farmworker families.
RCMA is a nonprofit organization serving rural, low-income children and their families with educational opportunities and childcare, while increasing public awareness around the livelihoods of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. RCMA has locations across Central and South Florida, including an early childhood education campus in Mulberry that opened in 2009. Thanks to funding from partners like Mosaic, the campus will expand to include Mulberry Community Academy, a K-8 school that will further the education of RCMA students.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for Mulberry Community Academy was held Wednesday, Oct. 25. Mosaic has pledged $100,000 to make the school a reality.
The academy will continue operating its early childhood development center and add grade levels each year, serving migrant farmworker families in nearby communities.
“In the next five years, we see the campus getting bigger and brighter and serving at least 500 to 600 children,” said RCMA Executive Director Isabel Garcia.
Students are taught in both English and Spanish. RCMA also supports parents with tools and resources needed as their children continue their education.
“The kids realize the sky is the limit, and they’re reaching for the sky,” Garcia said. “It’s inspiring to see those dreams come to life. This isn’t just about education, it’s about the comprehensive, wrap-around services that these families need.”
Mulberry Community Academy Principal Dani Higgins said RCMA students face achievement gaps compared to their peers, as well as disparities in food and housing insecurity.
“Many of us have dreamt about this moment for many years,” Higgins said. “We need these academic support services for this community desperately. The heart of the school is to create an environment of success for these students. We’re excited for what is about to come.”
Funding from Mosaic helps to bring the vision to life by expanding the child development center, supplying portables and temporary classrooms and adding an auditorium and kitchen.
Mosaic’s contribution also funded the addition of a steel cover over the sports pavilion at RCMA’s existing Wimauma Community Academy. The sports pavilion will be used as a competition space for RCMA’s schools and serve as an outdoor classroom for STEAM-related curriculum.
”We recognize the need for a facility like this to serve the farmworker families in our community,” said Mosaic Public Affairs Manager Morgan Odum. “We’re excited to see the vision RCMA has come to life, and to see what the students will continue to accomplish.”