Positively JAX winners provide nurturing environment for refugee students through mentoring, tutoring

PONTE VEDRA, Fla – This month’s Positively JAX winners are proof that age is nothing but a number. Teenagers who are shaping and helping develop their peers.

JaxThrive is a tutoring and mentoring program for refugee students. It’s student led and has connected hundreds of students

Young people can be powerful connectors, teachers and friends. That’s what Lexi and Hope are proving while carrying on the legacy of JaxThrive. It’s a Jacksonville nonprofit that’s giving local young refugees power through peer lead tutoring and mentorship.

“We all have similarities, even though we’re coming from different backgrounds, we all have commonalities, so just being able to find the foundations upon that and build and keep building the relationship through tutoring,” said co-president Alexis Magnano.

Its reach is well beyond Jacksonville. There are now eight clubs across the world, one in the United Arab Emirates. They’ve worked with more than 200 refugees since 2017 and have had more than 300 volunteers.

While the students eventually move out of the program when they graduate, the work continues. Friends Hope and Lexi are the co-presidents now, but Hope’s sister and Lexi’s brother started the group when these two were just in the seventh grade.

“My older sister has always been my greatest role model. She’s four years older than me. So I always kind of saw her and always looked up to her in that younger sibling sense. But as I got older, I really got a sense of understanding of what she had done for her community and for her family and for her friends,” says Hope Freeman.

They tutor in person every other Saturday from a local church. The students are all different ages and they learn from each other. Lexi’s greatest role model is Dar Salam, a student she worked with who is now headed to college.

“When she first got here, she, her age was messed up in the system. And so she wasn’t able to go to school. And so for the first year, she was here, we would just give her stacks of books, and she would come back and read them. And even though she wasn’t really in the best situation, she was so excited just for any opportunity she was given,” says Lexi Magnano.

Lexi and Hope are graduating this year and they’re ready to pass the torch. News4JAX believes the light will continue to shine making JaxThrive Positively JAX.

For more information go to https://www.jaxthrive.org/.

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Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.