How can the lives of underperforming students be improved by weaving them together with the lives of adults? This is the question Thread CEO Sarah Hemminger set out to answer 15 years ago, when she founded the organization. Through customized demonstrations of support, like providing lunch, giving rides to school, or help with homework, the relationships that Thread is based on are formed. These bonds are the groundwork students to access community resources, become more independent, and ultimately, according to Hemminger, grow up in a more equitable city.
Located in the Mondawmin neighborhood of Baltimore, Thread draws heavily on the work of volunteers. These adults form networks to rally around students from several partner schools in the city who are in the bottom 25% of their class academically. At first glance, Thread clearly seeks to help the isolated youth it serves. Yet, Hemminger says, the relationships that are built between the children and adults benefit everyone involved. This social reciprocity, according to Hemminger, is a core value in the organization.
Although “success” for adults who are involved in the program isn’t quite as measurable, the high school graduation rate for enrolled students improves by over 65%. Eventually, Hemminger hopes to expand the program to enroll seven percent of all high school students across Baltimore City.