GBC’s Pre-K subcommittee discusses additional after-school programs

In an effort to focus business resources on expanding and strengthening after-school programs, the GBC’s PreK-12 subcommittee received presentations from two additional after-school programs: Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprises and Higher Achievement.

As reported in the August 26 GBC Leader, the subcommittee has concluded that there are not enough engaging and positive activities for Baltimore City’s young people during out-of-school hours, including the summer months. The GBC PreK-12 subcommittee, formed from the GBC’s Education and Workforce Committee and chaired by Tanesha Boldin of PNC Bank, has continued to learn more from education advocates that focus on providing services to the community relating to enhancing after-school activities for city students. The GBC committee members are working to recruit business supporters for after-school initiatives.

One non-profit after-school entrepreneurial program heard from, Individual Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprises, is a group that hires young students to share knowledge with other students regarding academics, debate, videography, store management, financial literacy. The peers also teach a variety of “soft skills” including communication, leadership and teamwork. It’s a win-win arrangement where the paid teaching peers have jobs and obtain employment skills while the taught and mentored peers have quality programs. It costs approximately $4,000 to hire a young person for a full year during after school hours.

Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprises produces jobs that enable young students to stay in school, help their families, and be positive role models for other youth. The program creates another part of the small business and knowledge-based economy through positive work.

There are more than 20 groups in the Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprise Coalition and the Coalition hopes to grow that number over time to include teaching financial literacy, green practices, and other important skills. Two of Peer-to-Peer Enterprises’ measurable results are:

  • Baltimore Urban Debate League – One-hundred percent of high school students in the program graduate from high school. More than 75 percent of all the students involved stay in the program from middle through high school.
  • Baltimore Algebra Project – Students improve in math enough to increase two grade levels. One-hundred percent graduate from high school, and many of them stay in Baltimore for University.

For more information about Peer to Peer Enterprises, contact the project consultant, Odette T. Ramos. Businesses who contribute more than $250 will receive a 50 percent state tax credit through the Community Investment Tax Credit program which supports worthy non-profits dedicated to enriching their communities. Donations received by July 2010 qualify. Any business or personal contribution qualifies for the federal charitable contribution deduction.

Another after-school summer program is Higher Achievement, a nationally recognized program with more than 30 years of experience in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Its innovative approach to working with youth has earned national attention, and has recently received public recognition from the White House. The outstanding outcomes of Higher Achievement in Washington, D.C. resulted in the launch of a national expansion. Higher Achievement received seed funding from Atlantic Philanthropies to open two Achievement Centers to serve youth in East and West Baltimore.

Higher Achievement extends learning opportunities for middle school youth, providing underserved students equal access to success in both school and life by helping them advance to college preparatory high schools. During the scholars’ four years in Higher Achievement, they study social-justice oriented curricula; work with mentors weekly; self select enriching elective courses; and participate in academic contests, university stays, and field trips. In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, 95 percent of the students who completed Higher Achievement’s full four-year program have gone on to college.

As Higher Achievement-Baltimore prepares for the October 2009 launch of its After School Academy, the organization is seeking help from the business community to recruit volunteer mentors. Higher Achievement mentors tutor a small group of 5th and 6th grade students in an academic subject for two hours a week during the school year. Higher Achievement equips its mentors with easy-to-use and interactive curricula, as well as ongoing support and training.

Businesses willing to sponsor or participant in efforts to strengthen after-school programs for Baltimore City students should contact GBC Director of Government Relations Kisha Brown at 410-727-2820, x38.

 

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