All About Youth Community Center (AAYCC) was created to address a need in the community for preventive programs for our youth. AAYCC’s goal is to make a positive impact on the educational and social lives of at-risk youth by providing individual academic and social support. Our goals are to reduce the dropout rate and improve academic achievement of disadvantaged students.
Research has shown that a number of communities that invest in their youth early are able to demonstrate impressive results in reducing criminal, delinquent, and pre-delinquent behavior among young people. Risk factors and underlying conditions that propel some youth to crime are identifiable early in life. According to Richard A. Mendel, crime prone youth are more likely to come from families where parents are abusive or neglectful, provide harsh or erratic discipline, or exhibit marital discord. They tend to live in communities rife with drugs, crime, guns, and poverty, where positive role models and safe, constructive recreational opportunities are scarce.
Other studies have shown that students who are considered to be economically disadvantaged and who live in urban neighborhoods are more likely than their middle-and upper-income peers to fall behind academically during out-of-school time and the summer months. These students also spend many unsupervised hours and are easy targets for drug and alcohol use and juvenile crime. Additionally, they are at risk of academic failure and dropping out of school.
According to the Harvard Family Research Project, participation in summer and out-of-school enrichment programs is associated with better attitudes toward school and higher educational aspirations, higher school attendance, less tardiness, less disciplinary action, lower drop-out rates, improved homework completion, and engagement in learning.
Looking beyond academics, participation in summer and out-of-school enrichment programs is associated with decreased behavioral problems, improved social and communication skills, increased self-confidence and development of initiative (Harvard Family Research Project, February 2008).
AAYCC programs are designed to produce excellence in every aspect of life for each youth. One of the program’s primary goals centers on providing direct and effective services that will increase the educational skills of participants. Volunteers will provide youth with computer training sessions to help them complete projects, prepare homework assignments, write papers, and facilitate other educational challenges.
In recent years the attention given to out-of-school and summer enrichment programs for disadvantaged students has grown. The heightened attention has gained momentum thanks to the No Child Left Behind legislation and studies on summer and out-of-school learning loss for at-risk students.
In 2006, the Rand Corporation published a study that found that 58% of black students and 70% of non-black students complete their high school education. The statistics for black males demonstrate a further decline with 50% graduating from high school. A study from the Center of Labor Market Studies at Northwestern University in Boston, indicates that Americans without a high school diploma have considerably lower earning power and job opportunities in today’s workforce. Over a working lifetime from ages 18-65, high school dropouts are estimated to earn $485,000 less than those who graduated from high school. Due to their lower lifetime earnings, dropouts will contribute far less in federal, state, and local taxes. Additionally, they are more likely to be unemployed, in poor health, living in poverty, on public assistance, and a single parent with youth who drop out of school. Over their lifetimes, they will impose a net fiscal burden on the rest of society. By contrast, adults with high school diplomas contribute major fiscal benefits to society.
A 2009 survey of city school dropouts by the Pittsburgh Public Schools and Workforce Investment Board demonstrated that the primary reasons given for dropping out of school included lack of academic support and a feeling of hopelessness caused by poor attendance. A separate study indicated that nearly 80% of potential drop outs exhibited warning signs as early as the sixth grade. The red flags included failed courses, poor attendance and out-of-school suspensions.
Although in-school supports are necessary to keep students from falling behind and ultimately dropping out, youth spend 80% of their time outside the traditional school day. By keeping youth engaged and learning beyond regular school hours, out-of-school and summer enrichment programs can provide academic support students need to succeed. Enrichment programs give students the extra time, help and instruction they need to meet the demands of their academic coursework in reading, math, and other subjects.
All About Youth Community Center combines a traditional school setting with out-of-school and summer enrichment programs that offer individualized instruction. Academic as well as social progress is monitored on a weekly basis, and caregiver engagement in the youth’s school work is encouraged.