For more than 25 years, the Youth Development Center has been providing elementary students in Greater Fifth Ward with critical after-school care and instruction. Through a new partnership with HISD’s Sunrise Center, they’ll be able to help even more youth thrive academically.
The Center serves up to 120 students in grades 1-6 through its after-school remediation program, free of charge. Most of the students are enrolled in HISD.
“This is a very rigorous academic program that we take our kids through,” said Jason Skaer, Youth Development Center Executive Director. “Most of them when they come to us are two to three years behind in school. If they stick with us the full calendar year, we can catch them up about two grade levels in literacy and about one grade level in math.”
Students who live within a five-mile radius of the YDC get picked up from school and taken home every day. During their three hours at the Center, they get help with homework, reading and math tutoring, a full meal, and food to take home.
“If a kid is hungry, it’s really hard to focus on learning. If they don’t have the right clothes, it’s hard to focus on learning. If the lights aren’t on at home, it’s hard to focus on learning,” said Skaer. “There’s a myriad of obstacles in their way, and I think what today is doing is helping remove some of those obstacles.”
On staff, there are five certified HISD teachers and teaching assistants. In addition to math, literacy, and homework rotations, the students get to participate in weekly enrichment classes like art and gardening (outdoor and hydroponic). They also get to visit the library every Wednesday.
Through HISD and its community partners, families will receive more comprehensive supports including case management and health services.
“What a special Sunrise that we have here in Fifth Ward—an exceptional opportunity to come together with two incredible organizations that feed one special product, which is our students that exist here and cohabitate in this ecosystem that we call education,” said Orlando Riddick, North Division Superintendent. “To be able to walk in a special facility like this and get the nurturing and care that distinguishes them amongst so many other things. Our kids deserve the best.”
HISD is set to launch two more Sunrise Centers.
- West Orem YMCA Sunrise Center
- Cornerstone Sunrise Center
- Mission Milby Sunrise Center
- Morefield Boys & Girls Club Sunrise Center
For more information on HISD’s Family and Community Engagement Department, visit the FACE webpage, and for more information on the District’s many valuable community partnerships, visit the Community Partnerships Department webpage.