Stories from the Midland Area Community Foundation

Students get a PASS: New program addresses teen school suspension through The ROCK

February 21st, 2017

By Kathleen Davis
MACF Volunteer

A solid physical and mental foundation enable people to be strong and resilient so they may reach their potential to achieve their goals. The ROCK (Reaching Our Community Kids) Center for Youth Development is a teen-focused organization that helps youth succeed and thrive to reach their potential. The mission of The ROCK is to build hope and resilience in youth based on a foundation of acceptance, support, and respect that results in positive life choices.

This comprehensive non-profit organization for middle and high school students uses three proven programs – ROCK Exposure (life-skills and character development programs), ROCK Grounded (after-school programs) and ROCK Unplugged (community events) to provide youths with the tools and skills to cope in a positive manner with today’s myriad of issues and challenges in a safe and healthy environment. Many youths in the school districts of Midland, Bullock Creek, Coleman, and Meridian continue to take advantage of the high-quality programs The ROCK has to offer.

The ROCK is sustained by many generous donors which includes the Midland Area Community Foundation. The MACF, along with other foundations, corporate donors, and individuals enables The ROCK to serve community youth with the fundamentals to help create solid foundations for them.

As The ROCK continues to respond to the needs of today’s teens, a new program was introduced in January 2017 that addresses school suspension. The Positive Alternative to School Suspension (PASS) program is providing skill building and structure for middle school teens from all four of Midland’s school districts who get suspended. The initial funding for this new program was made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation.

The PASS Advantage

Research shows that students are better off when alternatives to school suspension are presented. Typically, students who get suspended encounter poor school performance, low self-esteem, peer group or public humiliation, and get involved in destructive behavior and activities. The PASS program will provide a structure for those teens who are not in their classroom due to suspension. Components of the program include skill building, homework/study, development of a personal success plan, and may also include exercise and community service. The intention of PASS is to reduce the deficits realized from school suspension and help to increase the teen’s academics and behaviors. “Providing a positive alternative to school suspensions has been a dream of ours for years. We are excited to see it become a reality in all four school districts. The long-term impact of school suspensions can be devastating to a youth. This is a powerful move that has the potential to address deficits and build skills,” said Beverlee Wenzel, Executive Director, The ROCK.

Currently, the program is available only to middle school students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the ROCK’s location within the Greater Community Midland Center. The ROCK plans are to expand the PASS program to include high school students and make it available Monday through Friday as more funding is secured.

To learn more about The ROCK or the PASS program, contact them at or visit their website at To provide funding for The ROCK and their PASS program through the MACF, contact them at 989.839.9661 or