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Published by marcbmorgan, 2020-01-14 18:05:28




Bridging Youth Enrichment Programs from the Community to Waterbury Public Schools, a pilot
Kris R. Noam, Ph.D. & Chemay Morales-James, Ed.M

Bridge to Success (BTS)was formed in 2010 and is a cradle to career community partnership in Waterbury,
CT. BTS’s mission is to ensure all of the City’s children and youth succeed in school, work, and life. In 2016, BTS
received funding to implement comprehensive after-school programs through the Boost! model. BTS partnered
with Waterbury Public Schools (WPS) and selected four PK-8 schools to pilot the program. The objective of
Boost! is to identify, and ultimately reduce ethnic and racial discrepancies within schools and reduce gaps in
academic outcomes between Waterbury and the rest of the state.
Quality afterschool programs have numerous scientifically proven advantages, as identified in figure 1, such
as increased connection to the school, reduced absenteeism, improved academics, and reduced deviant
behavior. To identify which programs would be suitable and beneficial for students in the four pilot schools,
three steps were taken: 1) asset maps were conducted with the schools to identify current services; 2) students
were surveyed about their current activities and after-school program preferences; and 3) caregivers were
surveyed on their needs and desires for their child(ren)’s after-school program offerings.

Figure 1: Scientifically proven benefits of attending an afterschool program

Asset Maps showed that in 2016-17, schools offered most of their programs to most of their students but did
not have the capacity to serve all students if all students would be interested. Most enrichment programs (e.g.
Girls Inc., Chorus, Reading Tutor) took place during the school hours.
Student Surveys revealed that nearly all (83%) students go Figure 2 Activities students engage in at home
home or to someone else’s house, where most are
accompanied by a parent. Most popular activities at home are
eating, watching TV, doing homework, and taking a shower.

©BTS, October 2017

As shown in figure 3, only a third of the students attends an afterschool Figure 3 Students attending an
program at least once a week. First graders are most likely to attend an after-school program
after-school program (36%) and second graders least likely (26%).
Most students (70%)are interested (surely or maybe) in attending an after- 70%
school program. Overall, students are interested in a range of subjects, the
most popular are sports and academics. Students are also interested in 33%
learning to cook and in behavioral health programs (e.g. team building).
30% 37%

Currently Would like to in

the future

Yes Maybe No

Caregiver Surveys included questions on home situation (e.g. number of rooms, number of household

members) and caregivers’ challenges around meeting basic needs. Three in four caregivers (73%) identifies at

least one basic need. Figure 4 Figure 4: Caregivers identifying basic needs
illustrates the most commonly

identified basic needs. These struggles 48%
are especially concerning when taking

caregivers’ employment status into 17% 17% 14% 14% 12%
account: 66% of the caregivers works

at least 25 hours a week. Paying utility biils No healthy food Access to a Transportation to Unsafe Long-term
Most caregivers (80%) are surely or
to eat laundry machine work Neighborhood unemployment

maybe interested in their children attending an afterschool. As figure 5 shows, most (86%) caregivers hope it

will teach their children new things, 50% see it as a place for child to do homework, and 39% value after-school

care because it provides children with

a safe place to be. Asked about Figure 5: Caregivers hopes for the impact of after-school programs
evidence based benefits of after-school 86%
programs, 63% of caregivers hope that 50% 39% 63% 59% 55% 46% 34%
by attending an after-school program

their children will increase their

grades, or establish deeper Child learn child can do Child at a Increase School Connection College Increase
connections between the child and the new things homework safe place
school (59%) and/or peers (55%). grades engagement w peers attendance chance HS
Caregivers’ preference

Scientifically proven outcomes

In conclusion, it is safe to state that schools, students, and caregivers are all ready to engage in after-school

programs. The next step is to connect schools and potential after-school partners and make sure that they
provide quality curricula that support and stimulate students. The Boost! model is one piece of the larger puzzle
through which BTS aims at helping all Waterbury youth succeed in school, work and life. Optimizing the pilot
will enable BTS to learn and improve, before scaling the model to more schools. Throughout the implementation
the focus will lie on data collection and outcomes, to guide the work and to safeguard continuous quality

©BTS, October 2017

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