Under-represented youth are many times underserved in school because of the lack of resources their schools and communities have available. The lack of resources not only affect their traditional learning experience, but commonly lead to the nonexistence of supplementary educational experiences such as STEM, art, and etiquette programs.
These supplementary or extracurricular programs are important for all youth, but especially underserved youth. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, supplementary programs have “been found to reinforce positive attitudes towards learning and encourage improved behaviour, and can help children function better in the classroom and lower the risk of antisocial behaviour.”
Like STEM, other programs that empower young people to be the best versions of themselves also play a major factor in overall academic and professional success. Shelby Mack, a recent American Studies major and graduate from UC Berkeley created Empowering and Healing Girls of Color through Performing Art in Oakland, CA. She incorporates peace-building, mindfulness, and sisterhood by teaching girls how to identify the various systematic oppressions, gender violence, and family trauma that they face within society through performing arts. Performing arts has benefits outside of learning a new skill. Children who are immersed in the arts have higher academic achievement, confidence and self-presentation skills, problem-solving and preservation skills, empathy and compassion, and a medium for self-expression.
Most supplementary programs are established by community organizations and individuals who have a program, passion, talent, or skill that they want to share with the world around them, such as the STEM program from YELL Academy. YELL Academy is based in Tyrone, GA and serves the Atlanta community, offering youth the opportunity to receive fun, hands-on learning. Program Director and Education Teacher, Dharma Stevens, has researched STEM along with project-based learning and began to witness her students express more interest and ownership in their own learning as they participated in project-based learning.
There is no one-size-fits-all supplementary program, but having STEM, art, mentoring, sports and other extracurricular programs available have proven to be beneficial to all involved. Youth who have the options to attend programs that develop skills outside of the classroom equate to success in the classroom and into their adult years.
Other programs that provide power to youth outside of the traditional classroom are happening across the globe. Here are a few we’ve recently funded:
ENVISION Mentoring Program in Norfolk, VA, encourages children to envision better life opportunities for themselves through academic achievement, good decision-making skills, and by building life skills. ENVISION was founded by Teonna Thompson, a student pursuing her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Mind Your Own Biz Jr and Japanese Backpack was founded by 10-year-old CEO Kemery Oparah. Through her programs, Kemery is on a mission to teach at least 500 children how to speak Japanese, start a career in entrepreneurship (dreaming big and turning their passion into profit), and/or how to sew by 2020.
The Up and On Project (UAO) located in Atlanta, GA, serves at-risk youth ages 10-17 around the entire metro area. The project’s mission is to combine the love of sports, with the necessity of education to give underserved youth their best chance at success. UAO was founded by Andre Ainsley, a mentor and sports coach.