Free program offers West Michigan students structured, supportive virtual learning environment

Student Empowerment Program by R.I.S.E. Corp
Posted at 3:33 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 22:31:08-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — As many students continue to learn virtually at home, a Battle Creek organization is offering a more structured and supportive environment when it comes to their school work.

The Student Empowerment Program (SEP) put on by R.I.S.E. Corp is removing kids from their home environment and giving them a more structurally sound and supportive space to virtually learn during the pandemic.

One mom said it is helping her kids get back on track at school.

"To get them out of the bedroom and into an actual space to do the work--I think that is a good thing," said Shannon Patrick, a mother of three kids who attend SEP.

Shannon Patrick said she enrolled her three kids into the program to give them a little more structure.

"With my youngest, he struggled with the virtual. He needed the people interaction, and he needed the teacher’s support. Now with the tutors, I think it is really helping him because at home he was really struggling," said Patrick.

The program is helping kids like Patrick's, giving students who are learning virtually a space that is structured, safe and supportive.

"A lot of kids are not engaged. Parents are at work. Some parents don’t know how to help the kids in the capacity that they would like to, and so we wanted to be able to offer that type of environment up here," said the President and CEO of R.I.S.E. Corp Damon Brown.

R.I.S.E. Corp said the program follows the state's safety protocols just like schools, but they are also able to work in smaller groups and space students out.

"I wasn’t really comfortable sending them to school. With the small group setting, it gave a good sense of security. It also provided structure," said Patrick.

The free program also offers tutors for those students who need a little extra help and addresses the individual learning needs of each child.

"What we try to do is to meet that student right where they are, get them on virtually, assess where their shortcomings might be. Each person’s plan is individual and unique to the student," said the Student Empowerment Program Director with R.I.S.E. Corp Jacqueline Patrick-James.

While the program is school-based, the kids also have time for a little fun in between classes and when their work is finished.

"They say that idle time is the devil’s playground, so with that being said, again, we want to be able to fill these kids' lives with different activities to keep them away from the streets and keep them away from trouble," said Brown.

Because the program is free, R.I.S.E. Corp said they are always looking for community partners and donations to help continue supporting the students.

While they are currently only three days a week, Brown said next month students will be able to attend five days a week with an option for additional after-school activities.

To enroll your kids or make a donation, you can call (269) 358-9466 or email

READ MORE: Michigan asks for a waiver of standardized testing for 2021

READ MORE: West Michigan schools awarded program supporting children's health

Follow FOX 17: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube