By Matthew Taub
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief
Appearing at a Middle School in the Bronx yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced the selection of the 271 providers that will oversee expanded after-school programs for middle school students throughout the five boroughs beginning in September, and also encouraged middle school youth to take advantage of free summer enrichment programming.
“Middle school is a tumultuous time for teenagers, and we need to ensure we are giving them the resources to support their development beyond the school day,” said the Mayor. “Whether it’s finding a passion in art, playing sports, or getting extra time to focus on academics our students are struggling with, after-school programs are critical to our young people’s educational experience.”
As a result of a Request for Proposals (RFP) released by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) in March, middle school students will have access to after-school programs in 562 schools beginning this fall, a 142 percent increase over the current 231. The number of seats citywide will jump 76 percent, to more than 79,300. Overseeing the new programs will be 108 eligible community-based organizations, nearly half of which currently do not operate a DYCD-funded after-school program. A separate RFP for non-public schools and community sites will be issued this fall.
“Ensuring students have access to academic enrichment programs outside of the classroom can often be the key to a student’s success inside the classroom,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who appeared with the Mayor.
In addition to expanding after-school to 85 percent of middle schools in the City, the RFP calls for programs to be open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year. Providers must offer 540 hours of after-school programming during the school year. The proposed price per participant was also increased to $3,000 (higher for providers servicing youth with special needs) to cover additional hours and reflect the actual costs providers say will enable them to hire and retain certified staff and offer high-quality programs.
“From STEM and the arts to dance and fitness, after-school and summer activities tap into a young person’s passions and existing skills, building on what they learn in the classroom,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong.
The middle school expansion builds on the initial OST launch in 2005, which included a significant investment in elementary school. The City will continue that longstanding support, with a projected enrollment of 37,480 elementary school students in 289 different programs across all five boroughs.
“By the time students enter middle school, kids born into poverty have spent, on average, 6,000 fewer hours learning than their middle class peers through experiences such as afterschool and summer programs,” said Lucy N. Friedman, President of TASC (The After-School Corporation). “By making high-quality after-school learning opportunities available to tens of thousands more kids, New York is bringing schools, families and great youth-serving community organizations together to shrink that gap.”
Summer enrichment programs will run from the first week of July through August 22, and are designed to support children of working families. Approximately 55,000 students will receive free summer programs in 2014, including 34,000 middle school youth, twice as many as the current number. Summer participants must pursue literacy and STEM-enrichment activities, along with other projects in theater, music, creative arts and recreational activities, plus planned trips and community explorations. Programs are open from 8 AM to 6 PM (varying by program). For pre-enrolment information and application form, visit www.nyc.gov/dycd. Deadline to enroll is June 30.