After-School Tutoring Successes
An after-school tutoring program based at a Cleveland apartment complex is not only giving children the extra help they need to succeed in school. It’s also improving the image of the development by attracting more stable, family-oriented residents.
Open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m., the Learning Center in the Moreland Greens Apartments provides children from preschool through high school a quiet, supportive environment where they can do homework and join in activities related to what they’re learning in school. About 35 students attend the center every afternoon, and 75 are on its roster.
Alvin Siegal, the chairman of Leader Mortgage, the apartment complex’s parent company, included the tutoring center as one of many improvements he made to the development when he bought it in 1994. The center is modeled after a similar program that Mr. Siegal visited in a low-income neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
“There is a lot of peer pressure on children not to get ahead,” says Rick Johnson, a general partner of the mortgage company. “We want to eliminate the obstacles.”
Children who live in Moreland Greens, east of downtown Cleveland, go to school in suburban Shaker Heights, a well-regarded school system. But because many of the youngsters go home to empty apartments in the afternoon, they didn’t have the extra support they needed to keep up with their peers.
Since the Learning Center opened in 1995, their teachers have seen improvements.
“Teachers are seeing homework on a regular basis. [The students] are studying for tests, and they have a more positive attitude toward school,” says Stephanie Hamilton, the executive director of the center and a former teacher in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Preliminary findings from an evaluation by the Shaker Heights district also show that when students attend the Learning Center, their grade-point averages increase.
Ms. Hamilton’s staff includes paid tutors as well as student volunteers from John Carroll University in Cleveland. Though many of the volunteers are education majors, Ms. Hamilton has also recruited business students and even one who was studying archeology. That, she said, gives the children an idea of how subjects such as math and science apply in the real world. The center is also equipped with computers and a variety of software programs.
Since it opened, there has been a waiting list for two-bedroom apartments at the complex, which are more popular with families.
Because the children living in Moreland Greens are occupied after school, maintenance workers never have graffiti to clean up at the complex, Mr. Moreland says. "[The children] stay out of trouble and get a little help to boot.”
Organizers believe the Learning Center can be duplicated in other apartment buildings. Already, a similar program has opened at an apartment complex in Akron, Ohio.
Initial funding for the center came from the Cleveland Foundation, the Gund Foundation, and the Thomas H. White Foundation. But Mr. Johnson believes the apartment complex itself will eventually be able to support its operation.
Community Guidance for Youth Program Results
The accomplishments of the Community Guidance for Youth Program, an effort to improve the lives of children in four rural and three urban communities in Indiana, are summarized in a report from the Public Education Network, a Washington-based nonprofit association that works to improve education in high-poverty areas.
Launched in 1988 by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, the program seeks to build relationships and services within the community for school-age youths, provide students with guidance as they make choices about their future, and expand the variety of opportunities available to them after high school. Through the project, after-school enrichment programs have been set up, new child-care facilities have been opened, and student achievement has improved.
Copies of the report, “Growing Together,” are available from Michelle E. Hynes at the Public Education Network, 601 13th St. N.W., Suite 900 North, Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 628-7460.
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A version of this article appeared in the April 30, 1997 edition of Education Week