ICC’s after-school programs operate daily (MONDAY-FRIDAY or 7 days a week) 3-6 pm. Students are picked up by staff at their respective schools or, in the case of Hawkins, transition smoothly within the building from the school day to the extended day. Both procedures – picking up and transitioning within the school – have been in operation for years; their success and smoothness are the product of good practices and solid relationships with school staff. The program at our Community Center accommodates school holidays and early dismissal.
After-School Programs provide academic support as well as enrichment activities. In recent years, teachers and social workers in our programs and in the local schools are encountering more children and families with multiple needs. This is not surprising given the vulnerable populations we are serving. The need for services in the community is apparent. Ironbound is a historically immigrant enclave: 64% of the nearly 50,000 residents are foreign-born; one-third have arrived in the last 15 years primarily from Central and South America; 82% speak a language other than English at home; 25% live in poverty; and 55% of adults have not completed high school.
The need in the Hawkins School neighborhood of 7,500 people is even more striking: a per capita income of $8,288 and 57% of adults having less than a High School diploma. More than 500 families live in low-income housing in need of improvements.
ICC’s programs have been designed by staff, partners and stakeholders, including students and parents, to address children’s needs and create a sense of community. Providing a safe and connecting haven sets the stage for improved learning and academic achievement as well as stronger relationships, stronger self-esteem, and improved attitudes and behavior. Additionally, our Family Success Centers provide supportive wrap-around social services to the children’s families that improve family stability and parenting practices.
Each day is typically divided into three parts: snack, homework, and enrichment. Activities are designed around student needs, are aligned with the school day, and aim to provide a sense of leadership, civic responsibility, and strengthening of academic skills so that the students have a stronger sense of self-worth and a greater opportunity to succeed. Student groupings are never larger than 20 students, and we maintain a 10:1 student to adult ratio to maximize attention and quality. A strong director and site coordinators ensure solid program leadership.
Activities are led by ICC staff who include college students, local artists, social workers, environmentalists and civic leaders, and community residents. They are positive role models and bring a passion as well as expertise for their particular work that is shared with students. Artists infuse the students with the inspiration to imagine beyond their little world as well as providing them with new technical skills. Environmentalists engage the students in neighborhood truck counting and air monitoring and in community gardening and environmental justice education, bringing science, math, civics, and leadership to life in a holistic – and surreptitious – way. Likewise, in activities like playwriting, chess, and dance, students can grow in ways they do not initially even realize, but immensely enjoy. In all activities students learn to respect each other and work together in teams.
In addition to enrichment activities, student needs, as well as parent demands, require the program to provide daily academic assistance, typically in the form of homework help. Literacy and language development are particular needs in a community where English is typically the second family language and educational attainment among parents is very low.
Through these activities, we aim to realize program objectives, including students demonstrating an increase in their academic achievement scores in comparison to their grade level, a greater sense of self-esteem as it relates to their pre- and post- self-assessment tools, and behavioral improvement based on a self-assessment chart and staff observations.
For information about our After-School Programs call: Ironbound Community Center programs: 973.465.0947
Hawkins St. School program: 973.344.5949