United Way of Westchester and Putnam was awarded a $6 million grant by the New York State Education Department, through its 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program (21st CCLC), to offer a Newcomers Program in the Elmsford, Ossining, and Peekskill School districts. 21st CCLC supports academic enrichment and encourages students’ families to be more involved in their children’s education. The award is for $1.2 million annually over the next five years.
“We appreciate that the NYS Education Department identified our Newcomers Program as a transformational opportunity to help underprivileged children and their families living in poverty or paycheck-to-paycheck to get the support they need for academic success,” said United Way of Westchester and Putnam President and CEO Tom Gabriel. “Having cross-sector partnerships with the Elmsford, Ossining, and Peekskill School Districts allows us to utilize their wealth of knowledge and experience. Then by incorporating the programs and services provided by United Way and its network of partners, we can help meet the needs of low-income communities, especially for newcomers and immigrants arriving in Westchester County.”
The UWWP Newcomers Program presents an intervention for delivering academic enrichment, youth development and social-emotional learning activities, and family engagement resources to underprivileged students and their families in three elementary schools, Oakside School in the Peekskill City School District, Brookside School in the Ossining Union Free School District, and Alice E. Grady Elementary School in the Elmsford Union Free School District.
“The United Way of Westchester and Putnam is constantly providing valuable support for our schools by making education and learning resources more accessible for our families,” Dr. Marc Baiocco, Superintendent of the Elmsford School District. “Our most recent partnership will provide tutoring and literacy-based enrichment opportunities for students in the areas of ELA, math, science, and STEM, so they may continue to grow academically. This opportunity is further enhanced by providing a space and engaging as a community of practice where ideas will be shared among several of our neighboring school districts.”
Through the program, a community of practice will be created among UWWP and the school districts for district and program staff to identify and share best practices for supporting newcomer students and their families. This includes using culturally responsive and integrated scaffolding practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Wraparound support provided by UWWP and its network of community partners will further help students and their families, notably through educational, health, food security, transportation, housing, income stability, and 211 Helpline referral resources.
“The Ossining School District is proud to partner with the United Way,” said Dr. Raymond Sanchez, Superintendent of the Ossining District. “Together, we work to address many needs within our school community. The 21st Century grant will provide us the opportunity to support scholars and families that are new to our school community. The extended day program will provide our scholars with unique opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences and offer much-needed academic support programs.”
The Newcomers Program incorporates a theory of change, which provides educational and social service support to underprivileged students and their families, leading to increased academic success and familial social mobility.
“Powerful parent and community partnerships are critical pillars which enable us to achieve our mission,” said Dr. David Mauricio, Superintendent of the Peekskill School District. “Peekskill is grateful to be a part of the United Way’s essential work and will continue to nurture our community through this grant funding. We expect that the programming will further strengthen the support that we provide to our families to help them navigate the educational system and access to critical resources.” The goal of the Newcomers Program is to create an environment where underprivileged families will have various opportunities to receive services and to learn how to advocate for their children’s needs.