After-school program serving disadvantaged areas proves why its students are all-stars
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After-School All-Stars is one of the most effective after-school programs in Hawaii, and the non-profit has the track record to prove it.
“We do have a lot of data in relation to how our students are achieving better grades, better behaviors, and better attendance while they’re in our program in the middle-school time,” said Paula Fitzell, the organization’s president and CEO.
She oversees the free after-school programs that started in 2009. Now ASAS is in a dozen schools — nine on Oahu and three on the Big Island.
“Our mission is to provide specifically after-school programming in disadvantaged areas, to disadvantaged students or underserved students,” Fitzell said.
Last year, After-School All-Stars served 2,643 kids, averaging about 700 a day in after-school activities that include academics, athletics, and service-learning projects.
Fitzell believes the latter is one of the most important.
“We create in them a responsibility to their community and an understanding that the little things they do can really give back to everybody in their communities,” she said. “Suddenly they realize their place in the community.”
ASAS also involves youth in summer school activities and enrichment programs and courses that expose young teens to different career possibilities because it’s never too early to start.
“You have to show them what is the potential of these careers,” Fitzell said.
Overall, the non-profit wants to teach youngsters how to successfully make the jump to high school.
“By doing that we provide them with the skills to do better at school, to attend better, to have better behaviors, and to achieve better grades, and therefore hopefully progress through the education system,” Fitzell said.
After-School All-Stars relies on federal grants, and there’s a lot of competition for that money.
By the end of the year, it hopes to add one more middle school to its list.
“There’s a lot of schools that certainly want us to into their schools, but of course funding is the issue,” Fitzell said.
Probably the best evidence of success are the students who graduate from ASAS then return to help the non-profit work with youth who are in the same place they were in not that long ago.
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