How One Local Nonprofit Is Working To Break The Cycle Of Poverty

Written by: Andrew Jason

The sense of community in Fargo is strong. With a diverse business and nonprofit scene, there are numerous organizations with the mission of supporting the residents of Fargo-Moorhead. And this is why it’s important that businesses be there for the nonprofit sector. We talked with two business leaders to learn about why they’re being so supportive of CHARISM, a local nonprofit with the mission of breaking the cycle of poverty by building stronger neighborhoods.

From employee morale to increased marketing to tax deductions to helping the community, there are numerous reasons why businesses should support nonprofits. Through a unique angle of hyper-localized support, CHARISM serves the Fargo area by providing programs to low-income families and new Americans with an emphasis on children and youth in-school and out-of-school mentoring and clubs, as well as a food shelf to provide food security.

“To the children and families we serve, CHARISM is like a close friend or family member who is always there when you need them the most,” said James Nagbe, Interim Executive Director. “We strive to be an anchor point of support to every child and family as we work towards building a stronger future for them and a stronger neighborhood in our community.”

Learn About Their Programs

Check and Connect

  • Students who are disengaged from school with poor attendance, behavioral issues and/or low grades might just need a little encouragement. The Check and Connect mentors monitor students’ performance and teach them how to set personal goals and become more independent and responsible.

After School STEAM Club

  • The STEAM program provides academic enrichment opportunities during out-of-school time for children to help them meet state and local education standards in science, technology, engineering, art and math subjects.

C4 Youth Camp

  • An extension of the Check and Connect program, C4 Youth Camp invites at-risk youth to take part in character building, leadership development, recreation, arts and team building activities. 

CHARISM Kid’s Camp

  • Offered to kids in the surrounding neighborhoods, this program typically runs Monday through Thursday throughout June and July. Children are provided with a healthy breakfast and lunch and are able to spend time with mentors and peers during camp activities. 

Grocery Assistance Program

  • In partnership with Great Plains Food Bank, CHARISM redistributes food from local grocery stores to residents in the McCormick Park Neighborhood and the entire community. Groceries are distributed twice a week, Tuesdays from 4-5 p.m. and Fridays from 10-11 a.m. 
Charism logo.
Instagram: Charism_Fargo
Twitter: @Fargo_CHARISM


Why Charism?

Terry Stroh:  I love what the organization does and that it’s in a super high-risk area of Fargo. I think people drive by two blocks away on 25th and don’t even know it’s here. It’s interesting because, to be honest with you, I’ve never been back there before. It really opened my eyes to the need in this town and I’m sure there are other places in Fargo that have similar situations. … I think the whole idea of an organization that pulls people up from their bootstrap and walks the walk with them is super important in any community and it certainly is in Fargo. 

Edward Sheeley: CHARISM has a strong tie to the communities and neighborhoods it serves. Programming like “Check and Connect” helps ensure students are getting to school, performing well in school and after school programs help with homework and academic activities leading to more success in school. CHARISM also has a grocery assistance program that offers food to those families in need twice a week. The other great programs are an after-school STEAM club, C4 camp and a summer kids camp.

What impact do donations have on these people’s lives?

Edward Sheeley: The main impact is providing a better learning environment for children to have the best chance to be successful in whatever they dream about becoming. CHARISM has been around long enough to have examples of youth who’ve gone through the CHARISM program, graduated college and now are working in our community today and sharing their stories about the positive impact CHARISM had on them.

Terry Stroh: The donor base makes it work. If it’s not there, the programs don’t exist. Our children and their families aren’t able to contribute. They’re really on the edge. To even take that pressure off of their parents and know that they have other people looking after their kids and being able to point them in the right direction, get their attendance and grades up and help them in all those things, it’s amazing.

What would you tell other companies that aren’t currently supporting a non-profit?

Terry Stroh: I hope all successful companies out there have some sort of philanthropy arm. My company does. My staff gets behind it. When I first came to work for the Board of Charism and told my staff about some stuff that we were doing, they came over and volunteered on a grocery assistance program. What they gave me for my Christmas present that year was a certificate that they printed out with the logo and all their signatures and it said how many hours they would volunteer that year. That meant more than anything they’ve ever given me.

Edward Sheeley: There are a lot of great nonprofits in our community to support. Pick one that you are passionate about and look for ways to help, whether it’s volunteering or financial assistance. The United Way of Cass Clay can be a great resource to connect you to nonprofits that you may have a passion for.

Above all else, what would you say is Charism’s primary purpose and why does Charism exist today?

Edward Sheeley: The primary purpose started with providing programs to low-income families in the McCormick Pack neighborhood in South Fargo. That primary purpose has evolved today to mainly focus on children’s educational needs and support in multiple neighborhoods throughout the FMWF Area. 

Terry Stroh: It’s really trying to give children, primarily but it does affect their family, the opportunity to break the poverty cycle, put them on a different path and get them to really become the start of a legacy of their family. A lot of these kids are at risk and their likelihood is that if somebody doesn’t do something, they’re going to end up being a statistic instead of a contributing member of the community. 

Terry Stroh, Board President and Founder of TL Stroh Architects-Interiors.
Terry Stroh, Board President and Founder of TL Stroh Architects-Interiors.
Edward Sheeley, Board Treasurer and Location President with Choice Bank.
Edward Sheeley, Board Treasurer and Location President with Choice Bank.Photo courtesy of Choice Bank
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