New organization CRAVE Academy offers programs that motivate students with disabilities

FLINT, Michigan — Flint native Jordan Johnson understood the impact of losing a vital community resource when the organization she worked for announced they had lost funding. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, this community loss inspired her to create the The CRAVE Academy which seeks to bridge a gap in resources for families and individuals living with disabilities.

Their mission seeks to champion the cause of students living with disabilities by guiding them on a journey toward independence. This mission is achieved through a holistic approach by offering tailored programs that not only educate but empower students. 

“I saw a need not being prioritized, so no matter how much it cost, no matter how much time I invested, I wanted to make sure my students had what they needed,” said Johnson. “That’s what really inspired me to start The CRAVE Academy.”

Watching her aunt and uncle struggle to find adequate resources for her cousin who has autism allowed Johnson to gain a personal perspective of how difficult it can be for families to access these services.

The CRAVE Academy can offer programs and services in neutral locations, often meeting families where they are in schools and community centers. Michigan School for the Deaf, Beecher Community School District, Carman-Ainsworth Community School District, The Transition Center, and Atherton are a few places The CRAVE Academy has previously partnered with to offer student services.

CRAVE stands for 'Creativity, Reverence, Accountability, Vision, and Evolvement. The organization combines these characteristics to bridge a gap for families, especially in disenfranchised areas. In communities that are historically underserved, families affected by disability may be misdiagnosed or even miseducated.
The official logo for The CRAVE Academy.
The CRAVE Academy targets misinterpretation of disabilities by educating disenfranchised populations on supportive intervention services.

“I want to provide support to families by helping them answer questions like, “How do I advocate for my child’s IEP in school?” and “What are supplementary resources?” 28% of children in Flint have autism or some type of cognitive disability after the Flint Water Crisis,” said Johnson.

The CRAVE Academy will offer a place for these families to come for answers and gain support. 

CRAVE also offers programming at no cost to participants. These programs focus on career readiness and provide students with any necessary accommodations. Work-based learning experiences offered during the summer by CRAVE Academy provide hands-on learning experiences for participants. They seek to teach students to be prepared for specific careers while supporting organizations to adequately accommodate students’ needs.

Partnering with local businesses allows students to be exposed to diverse career paths and prepares them for their desired employment by participating in mock interviews and paid internships.

Johnson stated that they are always looking for additional organizations and businesses to partner with to continue to be able to provide diverse learning experiences and opportunities for students. Volunteers are also needed to support these programs. 

If you cannot volunteer your time, Johson explained that community members can also support the organization by simply being inspired by her story. Believing in a small idea allowed her to create community change and she believes if others do the same, the community can build a new reputation and create a higher standard of services for these populations.

Community members can also show support on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. at The Dryden Building where Johnson will participate in a pitch where voters can help CRAVE Academy gain funding to support the organization.

Johnson will also be performing a spoken word poem entitled 'CRAVE' at the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library for its 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Community Celebration Program on Monday, January 15, 2024, at 2 p.m. 

To stay up to date on The CRAVE Academy, follow them on Facebook
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