Mills Discusses Rise & Shine After-School Program


Last updated 4/26/2021 at 4:53pm

William Mills

Transylvania County SCORE knows that leadership is essential for growth and survival in any community. This is the fourth in a series of articles from local leaders about their reflections on where they are after one year of COVID, and how their organizations handled the challenges. These articles are the backbone of a public recognition series by Transylvania County SCORE focused on the leaders, both for profit and non-profit, in the community.

William Mills, executive director and program director for the Rise & Shine After-School Program

What happened to us in 2020?

COVID-19 has been difficult on teachers and students across the nation, and the Rise & Shine scholars have been no exception. Many of the scholars started the year with virtual school but moved back to the classroom for in-person learning mid-year because virtual learning proved to be quite challenging.

Before the pandemic, our scholars attended Rise & Shine five days per week, receiving academic support each day. With the altered schedule this school year, we have not been able to see scholars every day. It has been difficult for them to manage their time on the remote learning days due to distractions at home. Some of them have gotten behind on assignments and have not been able to meet teacher deadlines. This has greatly impacted their grades and progress in certain subjects.

After spring break, all of the scholars are attending in-person learning at school four days per week. Many of our Rise & Shine scholars are excited about returning to the classroom for face-to-face learning. They know they have struggled and are looking forward to the extra instruction and support from their teachers. Of course, we will continue to provide them with support, as well. We are hoping that their performance in the fourth quarter will be higher than previous quarters. We are grateful for our dedicated team of tutors and staff who continue to work one on one with the Rise & Shine scholars.

Where is my organization today?

The Rise & Shine program has always been an integral part of the Rosenwald community but has become even more important during this period of COVID-19. With some scholars doing virtual school and some attending school on a modified schedule, our scholars have needed extra support in order to be successful in school. They often are not able to receive immediate feedback from teachers and many have had difficulty maintaining focus on their classwork. This is where our dedicated tutors have made an impact. The tutors can give them the attention they need to sustain focus and provide immediate feedback during work sessions. The scholars know that they have a support team with the teachers at school, their parents, and the staff and tutors at Rise & Shine.

Rise & Shine is thrilled that we have been accepted to be a Freedom School sponsor in 2021. We previously enrolled our students in the Freedom School (www.child Its aims of building literacy and awareness of African American history fit hand-in-glove with the goals of Rise & Shine. We were forced to withdraw from this program because of funding shortages and have greatly missed the access to its outstanding educational strategies and materials. In the Freedom School's model, we empower youth to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country, and world with hope, education and action.

We are grateful for our dedicated volunteer tutors and generosity of our donors and foundation partners throughout this challenging time. Rise & Shine has been dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our scholars for 25 years. Our program focuses on three key messages: "You Matter," "We Believe in You" and "Dream Big."

What do I foresee for Transylvania County for the rest of 2021?

In this period of increased racial tensions, Rise & Shine's mission to be a place that fosters racial harmony and promotes racial justice is an important message. We must continue to create cross-cultural relationships and instill acceptance for all people as we comply with community safety guidance from state officials, and we work toward "herd immunity" in our community.

SCORE began in 1964 and has helped 11 million entrepreneurs to start or grow a business. SCORE's 10,000 volunteers provide free mentoring, workshops and educational services to more than 1,500 communities nationwide, Visit SCORE at for more details. SCORE is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For local assistance, call (828) 693-8702 or email [email protected]


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