Charity Spotlight - CHARISM

Charity Spotlight – CHARISM
Jarod DCamp & Brianna Berg

Artwork created by CHARISM students on display at Integreon's office in Fargo. (Photo courtesy of Integreon)

Artwork created by CHARISM students on display at Integreon's office in Fargo. (Photo courtesy of Integreon)

Integreon is very proud to be a supporter of the associated Charity Challenge beneficiaries and we'd like to take the time to help you get to know them.  To accomplish this we are happy to bring you our Charity Spotlight features where you will meet some of the great people behind these organizations and learn what it is that they are doing for our communities. 

Our first Charity Spotlight is with CHARISM (Community Homes And Resources In Service to Many) and today we'll hear from Brittany LaForte, the Operations Director to learn more about this organization and the great things they are doing for the local community. Don't forget to support CHARISM and register with Team Red today!

(Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

(Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

What is CHARISM’s mission?

CHARISM’s Building Stronger Neighborhoods objective is to provide educational and character building opportunities to underprivileged children and youth to prevent and reduce the cycle of poverty. It also provides resources and support to families and community members to create a sense of security, belonging, and pride, helping to make their community a place where everyone can thrive.

What is CHARISM?  What services are you providing to the local community?

(Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

(Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

The CHARISM Neighborhood Center has been providing support and outreach programs to at risk children and low income families in Fargo for the past 22 years. CHARISM reduces barriers, helping to ensure that everyone has the opportunity for inclusion and is able to access a safe and welcoming anchor point in their community improving the quality of life for all of our neighbors.

CHARISM currently provides:

o  Eight educational, character development, and mentorship focused programs in partnership with five schools Monday through Thursday impacting over 150 children each school year!

o   Three STEM Club (Science Technology Engineering Math) sites , at Cheney Middle School, Eastwood and Jefferson Elementary Schools, where students learn 21st century skills with mentors while increasing literacy and math competencies

o   Two Check & Connect mentorship programs at Jefferson Elementary and Carl Ben Eielson Middle School, working with students who have truancy and behavioral challenges to reengage them in their education and school community

o   Strengths mentorship program at Carl Ben Eielson & Discovery Middle School, focusing on developing positive strong character and leadership skills for young men to become role models for the younger kids in the neighborhood

Artist Jessica Wachter gives guidance during the Faces Project at Discovery Middle School in Fargo. (Photo courtesy of Dave Wallis / The Forum)

Artist Jessica Wachter gives guidance during the Faces Project at Discovery Middle School in Fargo. (Photo courtesy of Dave Wallis / The Forum)

o   Faces mentorship program at Carl Ben Eielson & Discovery Middle School focusing on inspiring confidence, positive self-image, philanthropy and leaderships skills for young ladies

o   All Stars Tutoring, which engages students academically twice a week in math and reading to increase fluency and word recognition as well as improve math competencies

CHARISM Summer Camps include the Playtown Day Camp and English Language Learners Day Camp. (Photo courtesy of Fargo Public Schools)

CHARISM Summer Camps include the Playtown Day Camp and English Language Learners Day Camp. (Photo courtesy of Fargo Public Schools)

o  CHARISM is honored to reduce barriers and provide the opportunity for 60 children to attend a fun filled skill building summer day camp in July and August

o  In partnership with the Great Plains Food Bank CHARISM offers a Grocery Assistance Program (GAP) to increase food security and help community members access over 20,000 pounds of recovered food each month from our Family Center located in McCormick Park. An average of 160 families access this program each month.

(Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

(Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

o  Each summer, CHARISM organizes a community and youth garden in the McCormick Park neighborhood. Not only does this give our neighbors a crop of produce to share with their families italso provide a time for neighbors to get to know each other and work together

o CHARISM focuses on building stronger relationships with our neighbors and connecting them with additional resources in the community. We bring families and other organizations together to expand their knowledge of the community, build networks of supports, develop friendships, and create a sense of belonging in their community.

How did CHARISM begin?

CHARISM is celebrating its 22nd anniversary in 2016! It all started when CHARISM was created in 1994 by five local churches and Community Homes, a subsidized housing complex located near McCormick Park, to provide programming to low-income families in the neighborhood.

How is CHARISM funded; how many employees and volunteers do you have?

Finnu Wood Design's Josh Humble assisting Little Learners program students with a creative reclaimed wood sculpture project. (Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

Finnu Wood Design's Josh Humble assisting Little Learners program students with a creative reclaimed wood sculpture project. (Photo courtesy of CHARISM)

CHARISM realizes that making a difference in the lives of the people we serve is a community effort, and that we couldn’t do it without the help of some wonderful partners! CHARISM is able to do all the awesome things we do thanks to support from government grants, foundation grants, and individual and corporate contributions.

We also work closely with the Fargo and West Fargo Public Schools, the Fargo Park District, the Fargo Police Department, colleges, churches, and numerous other organizations in Fargo to assist us in the delivery of our programs.

CHARISM has eight full time employees, 20 college-aged mentors, and a database of over 100 volunteers who had generously contributed 2,739 hours of their time in 2015.

How does CHARISM use any contributions, monetary or otherwise?

Contributions are used to maintain and enhance programming. Programming expenses include activity supplies, curriculum development, educational field trips, nutritional snacks, and mentors.

Could you highlight and explain an initiative or program that CHARISM is particularly proud of?

CHARISM’s Check & Connect Program

The Check and Connect program works one-on-one with 20 at-risk students at Jefferson Elementary School and Carl Ben Eielson Middle School. CHARISM has a mentor designated to work directly in the schools and meet one-on-one with students throughout the week. Each student in the program has been identified to initially have a significant number of tardies, unexcused absences, behavior reports, or some combination of these concerns that are affecting the student’s academic performance.

Photo courtesy of CHARISM

Photo courtesy of CHARISM

Mentors work with each student to meet self-created goals, and also works with the students’ teachers, principal, social worker and family to identify ways the students’ goals can be supported. This holistic approach to the students’ attendance concerns helps address the root causes of students’ poor attendance and behavior. This evidence-based program has led to amazing results for the participants – in 2015, every student showed a decrease in unexcused absences, tardies or behavior reports; in fact, some students showed a decrease in every one of these areas! There has been a 73% decrease in number of unexcused absences and 65% decrease in the number of behavior reports.

What are CHARISM’s goals in the next three to five years?

We have planted strong roots in the Jefferson / McCormick community however, we want to increase our reach to address our community’s needs on a larger scale.  Our goal in three years is to expand our reach to a broader audience throughout the Fargo-Moorhead Area. We would also like to be able to deliver a continuum of programming for different age ranges; with the objective of starting participants at elementary school age and keeping them engaged into adulthood.

Photo courtesy of CHARISM

Photo courtesy of CHARISM

How will these goals be achieved?

We need to identify and express the greater need and provide information on the successful outcomes of our programs. Ensuring the public is aware of CHARISM and continuing to build partnerships with local organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be crucial.

What message would you hope to share with potential participants or supporters of the Integreon Charity Challenge?

The Integreon Charity Challenge is a wonderful event for citizens to come together and mix fitness and fundraising to support local programs and your neighbors.  It's also a chance to celebrate the wonderful work and how all four of these organizations are making Fargo-Moorhead a better place for everyone.

Thank you Integreon for all your efforts bringing the community together in a meaningful way and allowing us this opportunity to enhance our reach and impact more lives.

Why should the community donate or volunteer to help CHARISM?

Investing in and supporting your direct community helps children and families build their skills, meet their goals, and reach for their dreams, and helps make our city a place where everyone can thrive. 

When you support CHARISM, you are...

  • Creating connections to resources and services that help to make better neighborhoods.
  • Building dreams by connecting children and families with the tools and skills they need to reach their goals.
  • Increasing food security through our Grocery Assistance Program, helping community members access over 10,000 pounds of recovered food each month!
  • Improving academic and social skills through our quality, mentor-based in-school and after-school programs.
  • Teaching basic skills through our community outreach efforts, which equip individuals to be both great employees and great neighbors.
  • Instilling confidence and leadership skills in middle school students through our Faces and Strength projects.
  • Developing a sense of belonging through our large community garden as neighbors work together.

CHARISM Neighborhood Center is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide outreach programs for low-income children and families located in Fargo, North Dakota. They connect people to essential services such as supplemental food programs and after-school enrichment and support for youth, and also provide opportunities for community through neighborhood and holiday events.  There are many opportunities to volunteer. If you are interested, contact CHARISM at 701.356.0260 or go to