As thousands of families across Queens and New York City juggle the continuous shifts between in-person and remote learning, New York Edge’s Learning Labs are providing a safe, educational environment for children on the days they are scheduled for virtual school – easing the burden for working parents who need assurance that their children are cared for during the workday.
New York Edge, located at 58-12 Queens Blvd. in Woodside, is the largest provider of after school programs in New York City, servicing thousands of students from more than 100 schools in grades K-12. Its programs are located in the five boroughs, with several learning labs at churches, libraries, and catering halls that have been repurposed to provide a space for children to feel safe and supported.
“These two locations provide a safe and nurturing environment where kids can log on to classes and educators are there to support them,” said Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge. “Instead of being home and online, it’s an opportunity for kids to go to these locations and get the support they need, and it eases the burden for parents making sure their kids are cared for.”
New York Edge currently provides a mix of in-person and virtual after school programs, creating a sense of much-needed normalcy during these unprecedented times, according to Gazdick.
“We have 1,400 employees in New York Edge and in each of those schools, they have very personal relationships with the kids who see them as mentors, coaches and educators,” Gazdick said. “Sadly, one of our students lost a parent and she said what was getting her up and out of bed in the morning was her online dance class.”
According to Gazdick, it’s really critical for kids to not just do the activities, but to be with caring adults that help them process some of the trauma they’re facing during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, New York Edge was serving 40,000 kids in all five boroughs. When schools were closed in March, the organization transitioned its entire programming to virtual.
“We were able to give out 600 laptops to our students who didn’t have access to technology,” Gazdick said. “We run both a hybrid in-person and online learning at our labs and after school programs depending on the situation in each of our schools.”
New York Edge’s Learning Labs are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. providing engaging activities that will enhance kids’ learning, enabling them to grow academically and personally, and help them develop the passion and perseverance to meet their goals.
From homework support to STEM activities, visual and performing arts, leadership skills, college access programming and ACT/SAT prep, New York Edge’s initiatives — which are of no cost to the families they serve — are customized to integrate the school day curriculum and lead to improved academic performance at every level. All of New York Edge’s curriculum is age appropriate with a heavy focus on kids’ social emotional learning that includes their overall physical and mental health.
“That can be from eating healthy foods to getting enough sleep to also processing and working through social isolation due to the pandemic,” Gazdick said. “We try to provide our students with a holistic approach to their needs and really create a wrap-around approach for all kids.”
While spaces are limited and are not completely filled, Gazdick is encouraging parents to sign up for the program as soon as they can.
“The work at the Learning Lab is absolutely critical and it’s been very challenging for parents to organize childcare and/or work from home while their kids are at home trying to get online,” Gazdick said. “Our staff is there to help with all of the technical issues that kids might have getting online, and to also keep them on track with their academics. I think, overall, it’s a win-win for students and parents.”
For more information on New York Edge’s Learning Labs, click here.