United Way of Long Island has received $325,000 from JPMorgan Chase to support its Community Schools Project initiative, which operates in the Westbury and Freeport School Districts. The project serves middle and intermediate school students (grades 5-8) from the Westbury Middle and the Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School in Freeport.
Community Schools are a national model in which community organizations partner with local schools to provide in-house academic support, homework help, enrichment programs, parent programs, health, and social services as part of an extended day program that makes the school a center for neighborhood life and a hub for learning in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and math).
According to a 2011 report, Long Island’s Future Economy – A New Beginning for Nassau and Suffolk Counties prepared by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, “Too many students are graduating without enough exposure to the STEM subjects. An increasing number of children are attending the poorest schools and are not being prepared to be as productive as possible. These students have the potential to succeed in STEM education and reap the benefits. Despite earnest efforts, there is a lack of K-12 technical graduates and programs aligned with the skilled non-professional needs of technology-based and manufacturing industries. There already is a shortage of engineers, and while the region’s highly skilled workforce is aging, there are 129,000 fewer 25- to 34-year-olds—too few to replace this critical population group.”
United Way of Long Island’s Community Schools Project is helping to create the next generation of critical thinkers, increasing science and math literacy, and is creating the innovators of tomorrow. Fifty-four percent of students enrolled in Westbury’s Community School program have seen an increase in grades over the past year, – 30% finished the school year on the honor roll. Figures are not yet available for Freeport, as the program was launched earlier this year.
“Our Community School Initiatives at Westbury and Freeport are a combined effort of all the community stakeholders who understand the value of our educational system and the power of the communities in which we live,” said Vinford Mentar, Vice President, JP Morgan Chase Corporate Global Philanthropy. “The program and services that are available at these Community Schools have evolved, so that they not only benefit the whole child, but the entire family and community. JPMorgan Chase is proud to be part of these Community School initiatives.”
“United Way of Long Island is incredibly grateful to JPMorgan Chase for supporting the Community Schools Project initiative,” said Theresa Regnante, President and CEO, United Way of Long Island. “We are thankful to JPMorgan Chase – as the key investor of this program – for partnering with United Way to help give kids in underserved districts an equal chance to succeed academically. We hope that 10 or 15 years from now, one of our students from Community Schools will be working toward a cure for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, or build an engine that does not pollute. This program helps to ensure greater success in these students’ futures.”
In working with the students at both schools, Sandra Mahoney, Vice President for Education, United Way of Long Island, quotes Marian Wright Edelman: "We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."
Through the efforts of United Way of Long Island’s sponsored programs under its Education platform, thousands of children are now writing a new narrative for their lives, on track for college and the workplace.
Photo ID: From Left: Vinford Mentar, JPMorgan Chase Foundation; Theresa Regnante, United Way of Long Island; Louis Mastrianni, JPMorgan Chase; Sandra Mahoney, United Way of Long Island.