The Fairbanks serves as the headquarters for RISE, a program developed through the Northwest Project that's led by Amy Blansit.
SBJ file photo
The Fairbanks serves as the headquarters for RISE, a program developed through the Northwest Project that's led by Amy Blansit.

Poverty initiative to continue as Northwest Project concludes

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The Northwest Project, a five-year initiative designed to reduce poverty in Zone 1, has concluded, and nonprofit officials now are expanding a recently developed companion program.

The program is called RISE, which stands for reaching independence through support and education, and it’s being launched in earnest as a yearlong effort to move participants to self-sufficiency, according to a news release. RISE serves as a revenue stream for the Drew Lewis Foundation Inc., a key partner in the Northwest Project.  

The Drew Lewis Foundation will seek to sell the resource as a fee-based system to organizations nationwide. RISE, a poverty-reduction program built through the Northwest Project, is funded during the next year with support from Community Foundation of the Ozarks Inc. and others.  

“When we look at the nitty-gritty of the success of the RISE program, we know that individuals move out of poverty through education, employment and social capital, which, simply put, comes down to support and relationships,” said Amy Blansit, CEO of the Drew Lewis Foundation and project director for RISE, in the release. “We see the greatest success in members who are able to stick with the program long term and benefit from the support system of the community that results from participation.”

Since being developed amid the five years of the Northwest Project, RISE has been expanded to the cities of Aurora and Salem, with new groups being formed in Eldon, El Dorado Springs, Hermann, Monett and Neosho.

As with the Northwest Project, RISE will be housed at The Fairbanks, an 1126 N. Broadway Ave. property Blansit purchased with her late husband, Drew Lewis, in 2013. 

With a $1.3 million philanthropic investment, the Northwest Project over the past five years has worked with 464 individuals, according to the release. 

The Northwest Project's highlights include an increase in average monthly income of $568 for participating households. Those same households increased their average credit scores by 48 points. For members who remained active in programming for 36 months, their average monthly income went up by $798, according to the release.