Building Stable Learning Environments for At-Risk Children, By Perry Mandera

Believing that every child merits a productive and meaningful life in a safe environment, professionals have developed residential education programs to provide high-quality academics for at-risk children. Residential education in community settings provides one solution for at-risk children, who have faced abuse, neglect, homelessness, and other family challenges.

The benefits of residential education are many. Stable learning experiences with caring teachers and staff have resulted in 80 percent of participating students going on to attend college. In addition to academic skill building, enrichment activities in these family-like settings help teach values and social skills, and they create connections and a sense of belonging. Importantly, these programs place a high priority on family preservation, with continuous efforts to keep students in frequent contact with their families.

In my home state of Illinois, I proudly contribute to the Glenwood School for Boys and Girls, which serves 300 children from the Chicago metropolitan area in grades 2 through 12. Up to 75 percent of entering students require academic support to reach performance levels commensurate with their age and grade levels. At Glenwood, houseparents oversee the social skills training program, while the Resource Program delivers the academic programs. Once resident students reach high school age, they attend either a private prep school or a public school. For more information about Glenwood, and for giving opportunities, visit

About the Author:

As a philanthropist, Perry Mandera has concentrated his charitable giving in the areas of children’s services and cancer prevention. Mr. Mandera serves as the President of Custom Companies, and he played a major role in creating the company’s foundation, the Custom Cares Charities.


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