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Arete 2020, A Look Back


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.



 - 01/01/2021 - sbsd@areteeducation.org
intern tutors zoom

Intern-Tutors Engage their Peers in Remote Learning

“The most rewarding part about my tutor experience has been being able to showcase my abilities in helping people in hopes that they will gain from me, the same way I gained from my teachers.”

-Joselyn, 9th Grade Intern

20 High School Students have joined an Intern-Tutor Program led by Mr. Edward Martinez

This 16-week internship program initially began this spring with 8 high school interns preparing to gain job-embedded skills to enter the education field through an innovative internship program at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology led by teacher leader and Areté Education Director of Professional Learning, Edward Martinez. Since the ramifications of a global pandemic have radically altered the context for the internship, these high school students (now swelling to a group of 20!) are now serving as the lifeline for middle school students during the final weeks of remote learning for the 2020 school year.

“The best part of it all is learning and teaching at the same time.”

-Jose, 10th Grade Intern

Below is the program description for the first cohort of 8 intern-tutors, as designed and written by Mr. Martinez.

The goal of the 16-week Internship Program at Arete Education is to prepare students at HS 223 for job opportunities in the education field. Interns are provided with professional development centered on leadership skills, curriculum development, and social-emotional learning. The weekly work schedule allows for each intern to provide 6 hours of small group tutoring services to middle schoolers who need extra help in ELA or Math. The interns also receive up to 4 hours of professional development per week to support their growth. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all professional development is now being delivered through remote learning via Google Classroom and Meet.

“What I find most useful about the Intern-Tutor experience is learning how to manage classrooms, create lessons, and work with students.”

-Natalie, 10th Grade Intern

The Internship uses a community service-learning approach where the interns study education issues and receive specialized training in order to address the academic and social-emotional needs of MS 223 students. Interns who successfully complete the internship program, walk away with updated resumes, portfolios of the work they completed and recommendation letters they can use for future employment. The interns will also have an opportunity to be employed in the summer and fall programs that are operated by Arete Education and its partners.

“My intern experience has allowed me to gain many useful skills such as the ability to manage classroom behavior. This skill is very important when dealing with children and this internship has given me the necessary tools I need...”

-Chanel, 12th Grade Intern

The Interns are currently in the process of preparing enrichment club lesson plans that align with the workshop model. They partnered up to design fun and interactive lessons for the after-school setting. Last week (April 16th), the interns had the opportunity to receive guidance from MS/HS 223’s Principal, Dr. Gonzalez, who participated in a Google Meet session. The students engaged in a discussion to critique each other with feedback. Much of the suggestions that were provided were rooted in consistency with having clear and measurable objectives, simplicity, and alignment. The lessons ranged in genres from analyzing song lyrics, drawing 3-dimensional objects to creating a space for team-building. Dr. Gonzalez was impressed with the high level work that the interns were doing. Before the session was over he let the interns know that “It takes years for teachers to learn these concepts, but you are all showing your learned them after a couple of sessions... Pretty impressive!

“One thing that I have found useful about my Internship experience is understanding that there are different ways to help students... that being an intern is not only about helping a student, but also about building a relationship in which they feel comfortable asking for help.”

-Evelyn, 12th Grade Intern

“I definitely feel more confident to lead a group of middle schoolers because of how I have been taught to deal with different scenarios that I may face. I just overall feel more prepared. I am capable of creating a lesson for kids that is engaging...”

Franklin, 9th Grade Intern

An afternoon PD session on April 21 via Google Meet with Mr. Martinez, Director of Professional Development at Arete Education and a Social Studies Teacher at MS 223.

 - 05/25/2020 - sbsd@areteeducation.org

Combatting Hunger with Hope

Grocery Home Deliveries to Mott Haven Families

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Over the last eight weeks, Areté has re-established online programming, enrolling 300 students at the Lab School in a variety of weekly learning activities. We have also provided resources for direct services to Lab School families to acquire groceries, hotspots, and other critical services and supplies. Working with the Lab School staff, we keep track daily of students in terms of COVID-19 sickness (self and household members), hunger, and family member loss.

We have also seen a desperate need emerge: hunger.

How can our students learn if they are hungry?

How do we connect our students and families to immediate resources they need to bring meals and groceries into their homes during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Areté has responded by starting a Family Help Hotline and Grocery Delivery initiatives for the families we serve in Mott Haven.

We are working every day to garner foundation, private donor, and government funding to expand these efforts. Recently the Tracy Family Foundation funded our volunteer grocery delivery team by awarding Areté $7,500 to purchase groceries for our families recently losing a loved one to COVID and/or suffering from acute food shortages. Private donors have also been filling in the financial gaps needed to continue the initiative beyond the first delivery to 20 families.

Areté and Lab School staff have been volunteering every Saturday afternoon to meet at Fine Fare, load our cars with boxes of groceries, and then deliver directly to the apartment buildings of our families most in need.

We need more help.

Please consider sharing news our hunger relief efforts with friends, families, and foundation who would be interested in supporting our students and families during this critical time.

We have traditionally served the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, home to the poorest congressional district in the nation. We partner with the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology to serve 700 students and their families; those services have been dramatically curtailed due to COVID-19, due to a suspension of all on-site youth and family programming. By virtue of zip code, our Mott Haven families will be hit harder by COVID-19 than most due to decades of historical and structural inequities that erect barriers to accessing healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. The Bronx has the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities as a share of its population of any borough.

You can learn more about our COVID-19 responses to support students and families in Mott Haven by watching a video about our recent efforts in March and April.

 - 05/12/2020 - sbsd@areteeducation.org

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