News & Events

A message from the Bright Futures Joplin Board of Directors

Several weeks ago, Bright Futures Joplin requested that the Board of Education agree to extend the funding of two salaried positions to continue the important work of coordinating volunteers and serving students for the 2016/2017 school year. This request was not to take away from any tax-payer revenues, but rather would have come from the Bright Futures Joplin designated activity fund remaining in the district that cannot be spent for any other purpose than to fulfill the mission of Bright Futures Joplin as per donor intent. These positions have been funded through that account since the inception of Bright Futures with the full support of the Board of Education, the Bright Futures Board, and the donors that gave, so this was not a request that would have been out of the ordinary. It would have allowed BFJ additional time to become self-sufficient with external funds, as it has always been BFJ’s goal to never take away tax-payer revenues from the important work of education – but rather for this effort to supplement and support that work. We felt this was a very reasonable request, but last night the Joplin Schools Board of Education voted to decline to fund the positions from the BFJ activity account.

We want to be very clear – we are moving forward with our mission and will raise the money necessary to continue helping Joplin students. We know we have the support of the Joplin community. We had five wonderful people speak on our behalf last night, and could have had many more. Just today, we have received a host of calls, emails, and text messages from Joplin Schools administrators and staff concerned that they will no longer have access to these vital supports for kids, and we are here to say that this need not be a concern. Bright Futures Joplin will continue its work! We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to become completely self-sufficient and are committed to working in alignment with District leadership to best serve the needs of Joplin Schools staff and students. Our mission is simple, clear, and devoid of any other motivation than to ensure that our kids are successful in school and in life.

We look forward to meeting with many of you to discuss our plans and appreciate the many dedicated partners who help us in this work. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and your encouragement. And thank you to the thousands of volunteers and donors who have helped Bright Futures Joplin over the last six years. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our great organization! The best is certainly yet to come!

One Million Meals

Arvest2Special thanks to Arvest Bank for their support of the Snack Pack program! Through their One Million Meals drive, they’re working to collect food items for Joplin kids. You can drop off food items at any Joplin Arvest location throughout the month of April, and those items will go to support our own Joplin kiddos. Please help us share about this opportunity to support!

Here’s a list of needed items (all individually packaged):
– Fruitables fruit/veggie juice boxes
– Peanut butter crackers
– Fruit snacks
– Granola bars
– Kraft Easy Mac microwavable mac & cheese
– Beef flavored ramen noodles
– Fruit & cereal bars
– Slim Jim beef sticks
– Instant Oatmeal
– Snack items such as animal crackers

Learn more about what Arvest is doing here:…/local-news-today-one-mi…

Bright Futures Joplin Update – March 29, 2016

The following update was sent to the Joplin Schools Board of Education on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 following a retreat of the BFJ Board of Directors.

To:  Joplin Schools Board of Education
Cc:  Dr. Norm Ridder
        Bright Futures Joplin Board of Directors

Dear Distinguished Board Members,

Recently our Board convened with the expressed task of realigning and redefining our core mission and program clarity.  We have added some new members to our Board (see attached) and are very excited about the path forward.  The result of our work is as follows:

1.  Mission Clarity.
Bright Futures Joplin exists to serve children in need with the Joplin School District.  Our critical focus is providing clothing, school supplies, food, and the basic necessities for Joplin students to be successful in school.  These requests come directly from front-lines school personnel through the BFJ online request system.


2.  Financial Independence.
Bright Futures Joplin will be financially independent by the end of the 2017 school year.  The BFJ board is committed to raising $125,000 in the next year to support BFJ efforts and to ensure long-term viability.


3.  Program Clarity.
In addition meeting the basic needs of our students (which is the primary focus), we will continue to support Joplin Schools by being vocal advocates for education and the role of the community in Joplin Schools to support children.  BFJ is committed to increasing volunteer capacity and partnerships throughout the district.  BFJ will continue with the TREK and Lunch Pals initiatives to bring support to Joplin teachers and students.  These programs have had a decline in volunteer participation in spite of school appreciation of these efforts and requests for more community involvement.  The programs will undergo evaluation by a committee of our Board members, program volunteers, as well as school personnel, and we will report their recommendations in a later correspondence.


4.  School, Administration, Teacher and Counselor Alignment
Feedback from every building indicates that there is a great need for additional community volunteers and resources at their buildings.  In spite of the 121 human service, faith-based, and business partners meeting at building-level councils throughout the district, every school indicated a need for more engagement.  In the last 5 years since the tornado, volunteer engagement has waned, and our schools are feeling it. BFJ will work to re-invigorate active and engaged partnerships at each school.  We are actively seeking input from all schools to align with their needs and address any concerns they may have.

Specific services we have offered this year to support classrooms and buildings:· 


In closing:

While the original mission of BFJ was very clear, the tornado and the funds brought in after all of the national attention on BFJ created a situation in which BFJ took on more than was originally intended simply because of the gravity of need in Joplin and the resources available.  The BFJ board was passionate about making an impact and took on many initiatives and efforts that spread the team too thin, unintentionally created burdensome programs/processes that school personnel could not sustain, and created confusion in the community regarding its real purpose. All of those efforts were well-intentioned, but not sustainable – with some of them really being the responsibility of the District, not BFJ. This muddied the water and caused confusion internally regarding what was “school” and what was “Bright Futures” and unintentionally created a culture that was less than collaborative in nature internally.  On top of this, the creation of BFUSA (a separate entity entirely) was a response to the requests of many neighboring communities with the explicit purpose of supporting those new Bright Futures communities (not meeting the needs of students).  These efforts were important and valuable, but also caused confusion locally.

The truth is that every young group of world changers has a learning curve when you’re creating something new, and certainly Bright Futures Joplin has faced those challenges.  In spite of the challenges and lessons learned the hard way, the BFJ board strongly believes that the Bright Futures model was born in Joplin and has now spread to dozens of other communities – something for which Joplin should be very proud.  There is great ownership of Bright Futures as “our own thing,” and there is a strong commitment among board members to stay true to the original Bright Futures model and mission.  BFJ has been working hard to get “back to basics” and will continue to do so in the months/years ahead.  We appreciate your ongoing support and partnership as we realign and refocus for the benefit of Joplin kids.

We look forward to many years of continued partnership –

The Bright Futures Joplin Board of Directors

Bright Futures Joplin UPDATE

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During the December 15, 2015 Joplin Schools Board of Education meeting, the Board of Education voted to accept a request made by Bright Futures Joplin to separate the organization from the district. This means that beginning Jan. 1, 2016, funds donated to support Bright Futures Joplin will be kept in a fund at Community Foundation of the Ozarks rather than within the district. This move enables Bright Futures JS_EagleWithTextJoplin to become a Missouri nonprofit corporation utilizing the 501(c)3 status of CFO and better meet the information needs of our donors and supporters through annual non-profit financial reporting.

Current Bright Futures Joplin funds will remain with the Joplin School District and be spent down according to donor designations. Bright Futures Joplin will continue to serve the students of Joplin as it has in the past. One additional change is that the district employees who served Bright Futures Joplin will now be paid out of district operational funds rather than from the Bright Futures Joplin activity fund. They will continue to support the Bright Futures Joplin program in addition to other district initiatives.  Questions?  Please feel free to call the office anytime at (417) 625-5200, ext. 2229.

Click here to read the MOU between Bright Futures Joplin and Joplin Schools.

Help us STOCK THE CLOSET November 9-20!

Every year, Bright Futures Joplin meets the needs of hundreds of Joplin children whose families need a little help to keep their kids focused on school. With the winter months upon us, we could use your help to keep our kids warm. When you are cleaning out your closets or out doing your routine shopping, please consider donating any of the following items in male/female, all sizes from 5T and up.

New or gently used:StockTheCloset-Logo

New items:

Drop off all donations at your school lobby in the blue Bright Futures Barrel November 9th through the 20th, 2015!

Bright Futures Joplin On the Move

This year has been a different one for Bright Futures Joplin. With new district leadership and a focus on continuous improvement, BF Joplin has been working hard to step back and evaluate everything that we do – the what and the why – to ensure that we are doing the BEST things with our time and resources.

As a part of that process, the Bright Futures Joplin Advisory Board has been looking at ways to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important work. Through many conversations with community stakeholders, it has been made evident that there is a lack of clarity in Joplin about the separation of Bright Futures Joplin funds from other dollars collected through tax revenues and other state and federal funding sources to the district. Nearly a year ago, the conversation began to look at the possibility of separating BF Joplin funds from Joplin Schools to create a more clear distinction.

At the Joplin Schools Board of Education meeting held in October, the Bright Futures Joplin Advisory board submitted a request to have the Bright Futures Joplin designated funds moved out of the district and into the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. You can view the request submitted by the BFJ Advisory Board Chairman here.

At that same BOE meeting, Joplin Schools CFO Paul Barr presented on the current financial position of Bright Futures Joplin and how the funds have been managed over the past five years.

See the presentation in full here:

Mr. Barr made a couple of important points in his presentation:

1.  BF Joplin funds have always been kept separate from taxpayer revenues in a designated activity account.

2.  These funds are managed by the Joplin Schools finance department and are subject to all Joplin Schools’ policies and procedures including personnel, financial, purchasing, etc. and audits.

So why the possible changes? There are two important reasons the Advisory Board made this request to move the funds:

1. Increased clarity and transparency – while the BF activity account is open to the public via the Sunshine Law, there is not regular reporting out to the community of the nature of our work with a breakdown of income/expenses (as most non-profits typically report).  Moving funds to the Foundation will allow us to report this information on an annual basis through the traditional 990 report. Having BF funds moved to the foundation will also create a distinct separation from BF dollars and taxpayer revenues, which will give donors greater levels of confidence.

2. Investment opportunities – To reach the level of financial security that would create long-term sustainability, we must be able to move funds to a location where they can be invested and earn a return.  We would like to be able to accept endowments and other investment gifts (stocks, annuities, etc.) that would create a strong base of long-term financial viability for many years to come. Moving to the foundation gives us that opportunity.

So, what’s next?

The District lawyer, Mr. Norman Rouse, is investigating state statutes and looking at possible options in partnership with the district’s auditing accountant, Mr. Chris Churchwell. There is a committee that has been formed to work through the development of a Memorandum of Understanding that would help clarify roles and responsibilities between Joplin Schools and the Bright Futures Joplin Advisory Board and staff, as well as the direction of the monies. These teams will be bringing back recommendations to the Board of Education, hopefully by the November meeting.

We are incredibly appreciative of the amazing five years of support we’ve experienced in Joplin and look forward to many more years of successful partnership for the benefit of our kids!

Serving together,

Melissa Winston, MSMFT, PLMFT

Bright Futures Joplin Coordinator

Christmas for Kids Cards on Sale Now

BF-J_ChristmasCard_DigitalAds2015-02Every year throughout our community, there are kids (little kids and big kids) who will go without at Christmas. Thankfully, we live in a generous community that is committed to taking care of its children. There are a number of amazing groups of people that help bless these children with gifts and meals for the holidays, but the reality is that there are always gaps…kids who fall through the cracks and are not served by other agencies and efforts.

Bright Futures Joplin works together with our teachers, counselors, and principals to fill those gaps. Once a child has been identified as being in need, we work to connect those kids with area agencies that can serve them. We also invite the Bright Futures partners at each school to participate in sponsoring the kids from their building. If we find that there are kids who are not covered in any of these ways, Bright Futures Joplin will jump in.

And that’s where YOU come in! Our Christmas for Kids cards are designed by our Joplin Schools’ students, and they are a great way for your family, business, or group to participate in taking care of Joplin kids this Christmas. You can order custom cards or standard cards, and 100% of the proceeds go to take care of kids this Christmas. We hope you’ll join us in taking care of kids this Christmas!

Click here to purchase your cards online now or click here to download an order form and mail/fax it in. The deadline to order is October 16th, so don’t miss out!

Bright Futures Joplin Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary

Design LogoRead the Globe story here!

Watch the KOAM story here!

Bright Futures Partner Gathering 2015

Triple Crown Race – Joplin Leg 5K & 15K Results

BF-J_TripleCrownAds_FBadSpecial thanks to all those that participated in our Triple Crown Race 5K/15K!  We are excited to share the results of the Race with you here.

Click here to like our Facebook page and view pictures from the event.

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to our sponsors and volunteers who made it possible!

Sponsors for the Joplin Race were: