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Florence and Joe Catledge
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011
The Catledges provide access to education to at-risk populations using a holistic approach.
When she retired after more than three decades in the Ohio public school system, Florence Catledge returned to her hometown of Montgomery, Ala., where she rekindled a romance with her high school sweetheart, Joe, who was also an educator. As happy as that circumstance was, Florence nevertheless became depressed by the idleness she found in retirement. “It was like Jeremiah. I had fire in my bones and could not stand to stay at home,” she remembers.
She found her calling right in their neighborhood, an area rife with drug use, unemployment, dysfunctional families and neglected children. Tapping into their retirement savings, the Catledges founded the New Beginnings Resource Center in 2002 to provide education assistance for kids.
At the center, children as young as 4 can get after-school tutoring in math, English, science, social studies and writing, or enroll in the summer camp enrichment program. People who never graduated from high school may receive one-on-one GED preparation and mentoring. For adults the center offers life skill courses covering everything from relationships and self-esteem to parenting and anger management.
Working closely with parents, schools and churches, the center has helped more than 500 at-risk children and adults take a step toward escaping the poverty that surrounds them. Because of the center’s holistic approach, other organizations are seeking the Catledges’ guidance on how to successfully combine academic, character education and life skills components in their programs.
2016 Update: The nonprofit formerly known as New Beginnings Resource Center is now New Beginnings Educational Center.