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Is teaching the Bible during the school day really legal?
A: Yes! The concept of Released Time Religious Instruction (RTRI) has been upheld multiple times at the US Supreme Court. RTRI guidelines both guard against government establishment of any one religion and allow expression of the right to the “free exercise of religion,” also protected by the First Amendment.
Is LifeWise Academy a political movement?
A: No, LifeWise is not affiliated with or supportive of any particular political party or figure. LifeWise is for all families regardless of political persuasion.
Why should students, even those without a Christian background, learn about the Bible?
A: LifeWise Academy recognizes that the Bible was foundational to the forming of our society. We believe all students, regardless of religious background, can benefit from a greater understanding of such an influential book.
What's the history of LifeWise?
A: Founded in 2018, LifeWise Academy is a division of Stand For Truth, an event-based nonprofit ministry with a mission to reach public school students. The creation of LifeWise was inspired by an RTRI program in Van Wert, OH, which boasts a 95% participation rate among public elementary school students. Stand For Truth and the Van Wert Released Time program teamed up to create LifeWise Academy, launching the first two LifeWise programs in the fall of 2019. As of 2021, LifeWise is serving more than two dozen school districts.
How does LifeWise compare with before and after school programs?
A: LifeWise is complementary to existing before and after-school programs. The primary distinctive feature of LifeWise is that it operates during the school day, thereby engaging the students who are most unlikely to attend before and after school programs due to transportation, extracurricular and other issues.
How is LifeWise different from other Released Time programs?
A: LifeWise offers a structured, “plug-n-play” model which provides communities all the tools to launch and maintain an effective program while limiting administrative duties. The proven model also lends credibility to school administrators, parents, donors and volunteers.
Curriculum, Schedule and Classroom
Does LifeWise interfere with classes during the school day?
A: No, while classes are held during the school day, they do not interfere with children’s mandatory courses or extracurricular activities. The class schedule is set by school personnel in consultation with LifeWise representatives. Usually, LifeWise classes are scheduled as part of the “specials” rotation or for times when other elective courses are offered.
What curriculum is taught?
A: The LifeWise curriculum is designed to take students through the entire Bible, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation, over the course of five years. Each lesson reviews a Bible passage as well as a "Living LifeWise" character trait. The lessons' order and activities are flexible and can be modified as the teacher finds necessary. Download a sample of the curriculum here.
How often are LifeWise classes?
A: Typically students attend LifeWise once each week for a class lasting between 45 minutes and one hour.
How large are the class sizes?
A: LifeWise classes are usually the size of normal school classes, between 15 and 25 students.
Does LifeWise have protocols for behavioral issues?
A: Each LifeWise class should have two adult volunteers to aid teachers with behavioral issues as necessary. The default procedure for poor behavior is to escort the child back to the school through a process agreed upon by the LifeWise location and public school.
Who leads a local program?
A: A local steering committee first coordinates program details with school officials and then identifies a local program director and board to lead the program long-term using the resources and coaching from the LifeWise Support Center. .
Who teaches the classes?
A: Local LifeWise leaders recruit and hire qualified teachers using the resources and coaching from the LifeWise Support Center.
What are the volunteer needs?
A: Volunteers are needed to walk the students to and from the school and assist in the classroom and help as needed.
Church and Community
How do churches with differing beliefs and practices partner together to provide LifeWise to local students?
A: The LifeWise Statement of Faith, Philosophy of Ministry and Team Member Conduct are designed to focus on the core tenets of the Christian faith, particularly the gospel. A special effort is made to avoid teaching an official position on secondary issues.
Has there been local opposition to LifeWise?
A: The very rare and minimal opposition we’ve seen has been based on misconceptions, misunderstanding and false information regarding the legality of RTRI and LW. The most effective strategy in dealing with local opposition is to direct people to lifewiseacdemy.org and encourage them to explore the site and watch the video.
How can a parent elect to enroll their child in LifeWise?
A: Parents complete a LifeWise permission slip that is registered with the school office before their child may attend.
What happens if a parent wants to remove their child from LifeWise?
A: LifeWise is completely voluntary, and parents have the right to withdraw their child at any time for any reason.
How do students get to the off-site location?
A: Students either walk under the supervision of volunteer chaperones or be driven by bus or vans to the off-site location.
How do you start a local LifeWise?
A: Communities collaborate with LifeWise staff on a three-phase launch process. Learn more about the process here.
What are the options for LifeWise classroom facilities?
A: A variety of solutions have been used for LifeWise facilities. four primary types of RTRI facilities:
Existing Space - Rental or donated use of a church or other business.
Renovation - Purchase existing property, like a home, and remodel as necessary.
New Build - Construction using a LifeWise model design or unique local design.
Modular - Using a LifeWise semi-permanent modular building or unique local design.
If a local facility is built or renovated, who owns it?
A: Local real estate is always owned locally. If necessary, the LifeWise Support Center can help a local program with the process of creating a local nonprofit for the purposes of owning real estate.
Who assumes liability for students during LifeWise?
A: LifeWise assumes liability for students the moment they exit the school. LifeWise carries liability insurance and enforces extensive safety and security protocols.
Does each LifeWise Academy need its own insurance policy?
A: No, each local program is covered under the SFT insurance policy paid for by the LifeWise Support Center.
NOTE: The cost of the following coverage for all local programs is paid by the LifeWise Support Center: Directors and Officers, Religious Freedom, Sexual Acts, Employment Practices, Property, Media Fallout, Medical Coverage, Income and Extra Expense and Donations. Building and Personal Property coverage, if applicable, is managed by the LifeWise Support Center, but the cost is passed along to the local program.
Are background checks performed on all volunteers and teachers?
A: Yes, all local leaders, teachers and volunteers are required to complete a background screening to ensure the safety of the students and the program. Child safety video training is also provided.
Does each local LifeWise need to file for 501c3 tax exempt status?
A: No, each local program has 501c3 tax exempt status under the LifeWise umbrella.
Does each local program need its own name?
A: No, each program uses the name “LifeWise Academy” with a school district or geographical
surname, whichever is most appropriate (e.g., “LifeWise River View”)
How much does it cost to operate a local program?
A: The cost varies from location to location. Some of the most significant costs include:
Director/Teacher(s) - Local programs are encouraged, though not required, to hire a part-time paid director and paid teachers.
Facility/Transportation - These costs can vary greatly depending on whether a facility is donated, rented, purchased or built, and whether transportation to the off-site location is required.
Membership Fee - Curriculum, technological systems, liability insurance, background screenings, training, coaching, donation systems and receipting, etc. based on the number of students enrolled.
Miscellaneous - Classroom supplies; printing and postage for promotional materials, permission slips, thank you notes, initial launch and training fees ($1,500), endowment contributions, etc.
NOTE: Our numbers indicate a program can operate within the cost range of $100-$300 per student per year depending mainly on local decisions regarding paid staff, facility and transportation.
How is LifeWise funded?
A: Each LifeWise program is funded by private donations through local fundraising efforts. There is no cost to schools or participating families.
How are the donations raised to support the program?
A: The LifeWise Support Center provides proven strategies, training and materials to local LifeWise leaders to effectively raise the necessary funds.
How do local programs receive donations?
A: Local programs can receive donations via check or online through their dedicated donation page at lifewiseacademy.org/donate.
If a community raises funds to launch a local programs and then decides not to proceed, what happens with the donations?
A: The donations will remain earmarked for the local area for one year from the date the launch is officially put on hold. If no additional donations for the local area are made after the one year mark, funds raised will be redirected to the national launch fund. Additional donations will extend the one-year hold from the date of deposit.