Thursday, February 12, 2009

East Village Youth Program

Yesterday I trekked all the way out to the northwest neighborhood of Avondale to visit East Village Youth Program. East Village Youth Program was founded in 1989 in order "to encourage and prepare primarily low-income Latino youth for a college education." They started out in the West Town area, but have since moved to Avondale and have found the need for quality tutoring and mentoring to have only increased since their move. To continue to accomodate the population they worked with in West Town, EVYP continues to operate an after-school elementary school program at Mitchell Elementary School.

East Village Youth Program serves youth in 6th-12th grades. 6th-8th graders are required to come twice a week, either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. The students will come in after school and work on various academic enrichment exercises that are fun and instructive. At 6pm, the students will either meet one-on-one or in small groups based on grade and do their homework and other schoolwork with a tutor as well. Students also have an option of participating in the mentoring program where they are matched one-on-one with a mentor.

For high school students, Monday is freshman day, Tuesday is sophomore day, Wednesday is junior Day and Thursday is senior day. When I observed yesterday, on a Wednesday, the after-school academic enrichment program time was spent in an ACT-prep class taught by volunteers. Just like the elementary schoolers, at 6pm, the high schoolers meet with one-on-one or small-group tutors to work on their homework. They also have the option of having a one-on-one mentor that they meet with outside of the program.

Since East Village Youth Program's primary focus is on college admission and completion, they have a variety of programs to help their students both get in to college and be successful in college. Every mentor of a junior in high school is required to help them complete an ACT-study program. Students also have an option in participating in a variety of career-preparation workshops focusing on job interviewing, work-appropriate attire, resume-building etc. The students who participate in this program then get to do job shadowing in professions they're interested in.

What makes East Village Youth Program most unique, however, is their college program. A problem with many low-income youth is not getting into college but staying in college. In order to combat the college-dropout rate of their students, EVYP has a college program as well where students have to mail in their report cards, check in with a counselor at EVYP and participate in workshops that happen during school vacation time. Alumni of EVYP also must come back to speak to the students or help out with the program in some way. This is a great way to create a base of committed alumni who stay in touch with the program in the years after their graduation.

So, to Katherine Moone (pictured in the top photo, on the left), Sarah Bird, and Jane Napoli (they're in the bottom photo, left to right respictively) and all the kids at East Village Youth Program who I met - Thank you for allowing me to come in and observe and have fun with the kids. You guys have an awesome program!

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