Young Leaders Elementary School - Bronx, NY
Youth in the Mott Haven section in the South Bronx face difficult odds because of extreme poverty, crime, health concerns, and pervasive literacy deficits in their community. When we began our partnership with Young Leaders Elementary School (YLE) P.S. 369 in 2015, our students were no exception.
At the beginning of our partnership, only 3% of YLE third graders were proficiently reading at a third grade level. According to the National Assessment of Educational Process, reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development. It is at this point when students begin to apply their reading skills to learn other subjects. A lack of reading proficiency can cause a child to feel frustrated in school which can lead to a downward spiral of learning and behavioral issues. Moreover, almost 1/5 of children who do not read by third grade will not graduate high school. Those incarcerated are about 80% non-graduates.
Fulfilling a Need
In response to this crisis, we made a promise to YLE's new Principal, Jaleelah Cooke, to facilitate high-quality programming designed to extend the school day beyond 3pm, creating a positive learning environment of belonging and perseverance to boost literacy levels in the school.
Our approach included:
(1) Literacy-infused arts education
(2) Organized phonics and site word recognition activities
(3) English language call-and-response cheers and songs
(4) Facilitation of the iRead software program
(5) Increasing enrollment in Saturday test prep by planning incentives such as field trips and fun events for students and families who attended
By addressing the 3pm-6pm hours, parents were empowered to find or maintain employment by having their childcare needs satisfied.
The Result of Hard Work
After 5 years, third graders at YLE exceeded the New York statewide English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency average of 45% with a rate approaching 60%. According to Principal Cooke, our program was "the consistent staple which contributed to the success of rising third graders" at YLE, despite inconsistent funding sources available from the government or other funders.
What the progress of these resilient, young South Bronx residents demonstrated to us was that with access to the proper tools, resources and encouragement, our young people can succeed and reach their full potential, even surpassing the accomplishments or wealthier peers throughout the state.
We do not doubt that our young people can succeed in their endeavors when given the proper access to resources, guidance and support. Unfortunately this is the obstacle that many of our youth face. That is why we have made it our mission to instill inspiration and empowerment in all of our programs - to close this gap and help young people take control of their future.
Contribute to our year-end campaign and help remove the obstacles our youth are facing by providing them with access to the resources and opportunities that match their current needs.