After-School Programs Set To Expand
Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Bill Chong visited on Monday, Aug. 25, a Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF) training “boot camp” for more than 130 after-school professionals who will be administering SONYC (School’s Out New York City) after-school programs for middle school students beginning on Sept. 8.
The week-long training event is among the preparations being made by 108 community-based organizations in all five boroughs who will oversee the city’s SONYC programs. Enrollment applications for city-funded middle school and elementary school after-school programs are available at nyc.gov/afterschool.
The mayor recently addressed the gathering at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens Clubhouse in Richmond Hill, and observed a panel of middle school students who spoke to the trainees about the value of SASF’s Champions Club After- School Program and the role afterschool is playing in their development.
“I’m extremely pleased to see this group of professionals getting ready for a major expansion of after-school programming. Middle school is a tough time for students and parents alike. We must do right by our families and ensure we’re continuously giving middle schoolers the tools they need to succeed. This includes deepening their learning and offering them safe places and quality programming during after-school hours. Whether it’s finding a passion in basketball, cooking, fashion design, or getting a little extra homework help, programs like SONYC will help provide our children with a supportive environment that enriches their educational experience,” said de Blasio.
“One of the keys to successful SONYC programs is giving a voice to young adolescents in the types of programming they want to see,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. “This weeklong ‘boot camp’ will enable staff to learn from their peers about strategies to engage young people and ensure they are exposed to high-quality, diverse opportunities that make learning fun.”
“SASF will open a record 33 SONYC middle school programs on September 8, and in the upcoming school year, we will be providing sports, arts, and academic help in more than 158 New York City schools in all five boroughs. We are working very hard with the City to help equalize educational opportunities for all children in the critical hours when school is out,” said Ross Sandler, Chairman of the Board of Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF).
“I am delighted that we have so many highly capable people who will be administering SONYC’s afterschool program for middle school students throughout New York City. The week-long training that this group of professionals is receiving will go a long way toward ensuring that they are fully prepared to give our students the education they need to achieve success. As the Chair of the Youth Services Committee, I commend these fine professionals for their commitment and dedication to the children of this great city,” said City Council Member Mathieu Eugene.
As part of an unprecedented $145 million (FY15) investment to increase educational and recreational opportunities for city students ages 11-13, SONYC programs will be available in 562 schools (including 60 in District 75), a 143 percent increase over the previous 231. The total number of middle school seats will nearly double this year to 78,903 and to over 85,000 in FY16. Enhancements include programs being open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year, and a higher price per participant to cover the additional hours and to enable providers to hire and retain qualified staff and provide high-quality programming.
Middle school can be an especially challenging time for students, parents and teachers, with young people undergoing extraordinary changes and facing obstacles to becoming successful adults. After-school programming helps develop new skills and interests; prepare students for high school, graduation, college and beyond; encourage young people to pursue their passions during the challenging years of early adolescence; keep youth out of trouble between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.; and help reduce the achievement gap in diverse communities.
The SONYC offerings mirror the highly successful Summer Enrichment programs ending this week at more than 300 middle schools and Beacon and Cornerstone sites. The number of Summer Enrichment seats doubled this year to more than 34,000, and enrollment exceeded 100 percent citywide.