At Arete, we pride ourselves on opening up pathways for youth to be successful in their chosen career pathways, specially youth who are alumni of our afterschool, summer, and internship programs in Mott Haven.
This week we offered paid training through our partnership with IDE (Innovative Designs for Learning) to Arete alumni who work as employees in our Summer Programs at MS/HS 223 in Community School District 7 in the South Bronx. Our intergenerational approach to offering afterschool and summer programs in Mott Haven has distinguished our organization. By creating new teaching career pathways for middle and high school students in our teaching internship program, our high school graduates are able to enter the work force during their first semester of college. The specialized training, mentoring, alumni network, and opportunity to give back to their community through direct service in our afterschool and summer programs all provide unique advantages to the youth choosing to work with Arete as employees after graduation. They are caring, talented, problem-solvers and educators who take on leadership and direct teaching roles in our youth development programs.
This week's alumni educator training focused on how to engage students in the classroom by making learning more student-centered. Our alumni are a critical part of our strategy to support our partner schools with building trust with families as they choose to send students back to school this fall. They serve as bilingual family advocates who call families weekly and make connections to humanitarian, education, housing, and health services. They work afterschool as activity specialists, intern supervisors, technology specialists, and program coordinators. Providing opportunities for our alumni to build their skills enables us to have higher quality programs and for our alumni to progress further on the pathway to education and youth development careers.
What do we mean by “engagement” in the content of teaching and learning? What causes students to engage in the learning? How can we tap into their curiosity and drive in order to ignite learning? This professional learning experience will not only expose you to key ideas with respect to student engagement, but will also provide you with a set of concrete tools and strategies for engaging students in academic and social-emotional learning. You will leave the experience with a self-identified goal for increasing engagement in your own work with students.
Focus and Essential Questions for Each Day:
Written by Mariyam Sumareh
Today marks the first day of Summer Bridge for the students at The Laboratory School of Finance & Technology! It is exciting to see many young faces gathered after the year we have experienced. Throughout today, students across the grades engaged in academic and enrichment activities.
We had over 100 students attend summer programming, and we are excited to keep the momentum going. One thing for sure is that today has been a success. It's exciting to know that this is some students' first time being in the building while doing their whole sixth grade experience virtually and were able to engage with their classmates and instructors.
Through all of the first day challenges, we were able to get it done thanks to the students’ flexibility and the drive of all of the amazing staff. Students were able to sample the enrichment activities, exploring and getting a taste of each club so that by the end of tomorrow they can choose where they would like to be for the remainder of the summer.
Take a look at what our students had to say about their first day:
“Today was awesome. I got to meet new teachers and classmates. I got to learn more stuff about the school. So now I’m prepared for the school year.” - Juelz Perdomo, 6th Grade
“My day went good because I got to make new friends and I got to see new faces. It was good to get to know the teachers” - Juliet Flores, 7th Grade
“My first day here today was fine as we did a lot of fun things like play a game for our birthdays and engaged in Ice breakers” - Anonymous student, 8th Grade
We are excited to announce that families in Arete partner schools will be able to join our Arete Hope Network program, an eight-week intervention for families in temporary housing to remove barriers for elementary and middle school students to participate in school.
Thanks to a generous grant from the RTW Charitable Foundation, Arete Education can provide wrap-around supports (stipends, groceries, hotspots and laptops, mentoring, daily attendance support) for up to 25 families in the South Bronx and Harlem with the aim to positively impact their children's attendance rates and grades during the spring term.
This is an 8-week pilot program we are eager to expand beyond March 2021. We have invited families at our partner schools in CSD 7 (Mott Haven) and CSD 3 (Harlem) to nominate families to participate in this program who 1) are currently in temporary housing (shelter, doubled up) and 2) would benefit from wrap around support to maintain attendance or to improve attendance for the new spring term.
Throughout the pandemic, Arete Education has been expanding access to resources for families in Mott Haven and Harlem. With the support of our our Family Help Hotline and Family Advocate team, we have been able to support families with groceries, access to technology, and assistance leaving temporary housing. With the Arete Hope Network, we are actively expanding those efforts.
Family Advocate and Bilingual Family Help Hotline Staff Member
Community Schools Director at 07X223 and Family Advocate Team Leader. Gabriel manages the Family Help Hotline, Family Advocate Program, and Arete Hope Network.
Arete Secretary and Family Advocate. Amy leads our communication and logistics for family access to technology and all program activities; alumni of 07X223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology.
Learning Advocate for middle school students and coordinator for Arete Hope Network family services.
Learning Advocate for middle school students; alumni of 07X223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology.
Learning Advocate for middle school students; alumni of 07X223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology.
Learning Advocate for middle school students.
When Dr. Ramon Gonzalez envisioned that a small non-profit could be the difference maker for kids in the South Bronx, he created a legacy in Mott Haven. Every student coming through the doors of The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology can and will reach their full potential.
Arete, the notion that excellence is virtue, that investing in human potential will create positive and lasting change: that is who we are. Those are the ideals we embody.
Before the pandemic, we served our community by providing free services that expanded the school day with afterschool programming in the arts, STEM, fitness, SEL, and academics; free services that expanded the school week through Saturday Academy; and free services that expanded the school year through our Summer Bridge Arts Institute. We expanded career pathways through internships, leadership programs, College Office staffing, and college visits. We served the Mott Haven community through food and coat drives, community events and celebrations spotlighting youth achievement, and providing greater access to technology. From 2012 to 2020, Arete dedicated itself to cultivating excellence in the youth we served.
The past nine months of the pandemic have transformed the terrain of the afterschool sector and presented a call to action for Arete to respond to the dramatic humanitarian, mental health, and economic development needs of our students, families, and neighborhoods.
We have learned that in the current pandemic setting, youth can reach their full potential, and we have to work differently to set the conditions for youth to flourish.
We have had limited access to school buildings to run Extended Schools programming. When the school buildings are open, we run program at just 15% of the capacity of pre-pandemic operations. Instead of 350 students in the building afterschool each week, we have 70 students.
We are working remotely; we are engaging volunteers; we are hiring and training youth. We have seen an outpouring of public financial and volunteer support from individuals and foundations who are dedicated to the success of youth in Mott Haven. We have channeled new funds from individual donors and foundations to feed our families, staff our family help hotline, provide wifi and computer access, and expand our paid internship programs for youth.
Our older students do not have the luxury to attend afterschool programming online; they are caring for siblings inside all day, struggling to connect via dropped cell and wifi connections, overwhelmed by the amount of time they are asked to be learning in digital spaces, and supporting caretakers who have lost jobs and homes during the pandemic.
Our approach to nurturing youth excellence in the pandemic has been to provide new, one-on-one tutoring and small group afterschool instruction and to pay, train, and hire our students and graduates to offer those services; to continue providing essential academic afterschool offerings (credit-bearing courses, book clubs, 8th grade algebra, debate); and to seek outside investments to provide food, PPE, school supplies, computers, and hotspots to our families.
The results have been inspiring. The creativity, passion, and expertise of our more senior staff has been funneled into our academic afterschool offerings and our expanded career pathways in teaching, the arts, and STEM for our students and graduates. Half of our staff are program alumni who work alongside our 35 high school and middle school students in paid internships to provide peer-tutoring and youth advocacy through the arts. We have raised over $120,000 (10% of our annual budget in 2020) in new funding sources to provide humanitarian aid and digital access for remote learning to our families in Mott Haven.
There is so much more to do in 2021.
Our work begins with gaining financial stability in 2021. We have weathered significant financial losses in 2020 due to unprecedented strains on state and city budgets due to the pandemic. Delayed reimbursements from the city and state agencies who provide roughly 75% of our program budget have threatened our ability to continue our programs uninterrupted in 2021.
We have not yet cut services to families based on the economic crisis in the city. For nine months we have thrived despite city and state budget cuts to the non-profit sector and specifically afterschool programming. We continue to seek public support for our work in 2021 through partnering with the Robin Hood Foundation, Hayden Foundation, Heckscher Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Gen Next, and the Tracy Family Foundation and through individual donor support. In 2020, we saw a $200,000 increase in foundation support (200% increase from 2019) and a $40,000 increase in individual donor support (200% increase from 2019). We are eager to see those numbers continue to soar in 2021 as we work to expand investment in Mott Haven youth.
We believe we have the talent, history, and vision to continue cultivating excellence in Mott Haven youth. We are eager to grow our programs to support our neighborhood in the South Bronx and explore new collaborations in Harlem to support schools and families interested in partnering with Arete in 2021.
Looking back, looking ahead, we are committed to training, empowering, hiring, and bringing out the full potential in our youth.
The Arete Internship Program recruits outstanding middle and high school students, as well as, alumni from the Lab School who are interested in pursuing careers in the field of education. As interns, they develop job readiness skills and experiences that enhance their college applications and job resumes. Interns are specifically trained to provide up to 5 hours per week of tutoring and mentoring services to middle schoolers who are struggling with remote learning assignments. The free virtual Tutor Program takes place during after school time (Monday - Friday, between 4 and 7 PM) in secure grade-level zoom supervised by Arete staff members.
Each student who participates in the virtual Tutor Program is recommended by their teachers and approved by their guardians. Intern-tutors are provided with access to Google Classrooms and communicate with the teachers on a weekly basis in order to better prepare for their tutoring sessions. In order to keep teachers and families informed, tutors email weekly reports of their students’ progress.
Interns learn about various education issues, are trained on specific teaching skills and engage in ongoing reflection to improve. Interns receive professional development in the areas of community outreach, social-emotional learning, lesson planning and overall job readiness. They participate in weekly meetings to track progress toward goals and collaboratively discuss ways to improve. In addition, each intern undergoes 3 observations per term as part of their job readiness evaluation. Their evaluation consists of data from observations, student progress reports, family and teacher surveys, as well as, their own self-assessments.
Interns who successfully complete the program, walk away with an understanding and appreciation for what it takes to support students and families in their community. They exit their internship with specific job readiness skills that can be applied in many different types of work and professional settings.
Below is a sample of an intern-tutor’s weekly schedule (interns can work up to 8 hours per week)
Watch Senior Intern Kailyn Espinosa share what she has learned about planning mini-lessons in this video where she presents a lesson she will use to train new peer-tutors.
Arete is proud to announce the hiring of Yaritza Montiel, a graduate of the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology (MS/HS 223) and alumni of Arete programs, in the new position of Youth Service and Leadership Fellow. In this role Yartiza will be leading youth service and leadership initiatives for middle school and high school students across our programs in Mott Haven. She will be focusing on the areas: financial literacy, community service learning, advocacy for racial equity, food security for children and families, and high quality job access for youth.
Yaritza is enrolled at Cornell University and is majoring in Information Science and also serves in the U.S. Army Reserves. She will be taking a GAP year for the 2020-2021 school year and during this time will serve as an Arete Fellow and figure out what she is passionate about, enjoys doing, and should explore for a future career. We are thrilled to have Yaritza join the team.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across the country have struggled to recover from the financial strain imposed by measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Black-owned businesses are especially vulnerable, with studies indicating they are shutting down twice as fast as Nonblack-owned businesses. In light of these disparities in the economic health of Black-owned businesses, Engage@IHSMarkit and Barclays Embrace will partner with Arete and Black-owned restaurants to raise funds for meal distribution in Harlem and the Bronx.
This initiative is aimed at supporting Black-owned restaurants in the surrounding areas to source the meals that will be distributed. Funds raised will be used to purchase meals from La Morada in the South Bronx and Melba’s in Harlem, both being active partners in their communities.
This Feed Our Needs Initiative builds on Arete's past work raising funds to feed the families at the schools we serve in Mott Haven (South Bronx) and Harlem.
This month Arete is launching a Youth Leadership Initiative integrating the topics of Love and Racial Justice.
What does love have to do with racial justice?
Can understanding the dynamics of love lead towards racial justice?
When prompted, many of us can list all of the injustices that racism has caused in our society. However, can we discuss what it would look like if racial justice was achieved?
Discussions of love as a force of healing are often neglected in talks about racial justice. Research has proven that love is a powerful force of healing in the body and has a positive outcome on the lives of people who experience love.
Starting November 12, 2020, we are inviting our student and alumni leaders to join a year-long study on these topics. Monthly hour-long sessions (5 pm on Thursdays) will provide spaces for youth to engage with expert coach and facilitator, Dr. Maria Akinyele, who is serving as Arete's Coach in residency this academic year. She has designed a six-part series of workshops, where youth leaders will explore conceptions of love as a pathway for imagining and achieving racial justice.
Our your leaders will:
Beginning in February 2020, our youth leaders will begin working with Dr. Maria to design bilingual family workshops on the topics they are exploring in their work and offer those sessions in English and Spanish for all families in our school community.
This youth leadership team will also begin working as professional learning facilitators in Arete Forum sessions as all staff across the organization follow the lead of our youth leaders and delve into the topics and learning activities presented in the 6-part workshop series. Our youth leaders will be co-facilitators during those professional learning sessions.
At the end of the youth leadership initiative, we will have 8 certified youth leaders on the topic of racial justice and love, having gained 25 hours of learning and coaching. We look forward to the new community learning initiatives and service projects that come forward through this focused work over the year.