Almost 30% of Josephine County’s children live in poverty; one of the key factors leading to lower graduation rates in the County’s rural high schools (compared to Oregon state average). One reason students drop out of high school is that they feel that they do not fit in with the other students. They are too embarrassed to come to school in old clothing, shoes with holes, etc. This causes a lack of self-esteem and they just stop coming to school.
As a result, JCF students launched a project – Campus Closets – to upgrade the resource rooms at their schools to make them more like a small boutique where students would want to use them and to offer more products other than used clothing and shoes.
- The JCF students have determined that their community service projects will have the goals of increasing graduation rates and providing basic health and other services to those living in poverty. Current data shows that children living in poverty is at 27% in Josephine County, while the average for Oregon is 17% and for all of the U.S. it is 18%.
- There are many factors which impact students staying in high school to graduate. There are roughly 3,500 high school students in Josephine County and over half of those students are considered low income (half of whom are living below the poverty level), including homeless students, and are therefore eligible for free or reduced cost meals. These students have the highest dropout rate from school.
- A factor influencing Josephine County’s low high school graduation rates is that students from low income families frequently have old and outdated clothing, unlike what their peers wear, or are not able to afford the necessary school supplies. These students frequently drop out because they “look different” and feel that they do not fit in.
“I am so proud of our JCF students who recognized the need for the Campus Closets, did the hard work of developing the Closets and their commitment to help fellow students stay in school and succeed.” ~ Jewel Shane, North Valley High School Student Advocate.
- The high schools in Josephine County have a resource room where students can get used clothing, food, school supplies etc. After talking with fellow students, JCF students learned that the resource rooms were only being used by a small percentage of those eligible to use them. The rooms were not appealing, with clothing piled on tables and shoes in boxes on the floor. Most of the clothing was not what high school students would wear. The result was that the students were simply just too embarrassed to use the rooms.
- JCF’s goal is to establish a Campus Closet at each of the county’s four high schools stocked with age appropriate new and used clothing such as pants, dresses, shirts, coats, undergarments, socks and personal hygiene items as well as school supplies and a limited food pantry for students needing these items. The Campus Closets would have a dressing room and look like a ”boutique” to make students using the Campus Closets feel more comfortable.
- The Campus Closets would also have more formal attire so students could attend events such as proms and have appropriate clothing for job interviews.
- Students have raised almost $10,000 to remodel and stock the Campus Closets.
“I would like to take a moment to thank the Josephine County Foundation for your donation to Illinois Valley High School’s Cougar Closet. Your support will help many students whether they are low income or homeless feel better about themselves and be more productive in school.”