Martha O'Bryan Center's K-8 Youth Development program serves vulnerable elementary and middle school students attending Stratford, Maplewood, and McGavock cluster schools. We specifically target youth who are isolated by poverty, without access to expanded educational opportunities, reliable transportation, healthy food, and other basic necessities. We offer comprehensive academic, social-emotional, and enrichment programming that meets or exceeds the opportunities accessible to middle and upper class families, thereby creating a culture of attainment and success in low-income communities.
Our short-term goals are to help youth improve key reading and math skills, strengthen healthy social-emotional behaviors, and discover gifts and talents. We measure progress toward these goals using the following programmatic outcomes:
1. 85% of K-8 students will increase skills as measured by the STAR Early Literacy or STAR Reading assessments, or 85% of K-8 students (255 of 300) will increase their math skills as measured by the STAR math assessment.
2. 85% of K-8 students will improve coping skills, healthy social-emotional behaviors, and resiliency, as reflected by assessments that measure students' perception of program safety, support, and opportunity for growth in self-awareness.
3. 85% of K-8 students will increase knowledge of individual gifts/talents and future careers by participating in career exploration courses, measured by pre/post assessments.
4. 70% of K-8 students will attend programming at least 70% of the time, measured by daily sign-in sheets.
Achieving these outcomes ensures we prepare youth for long-term success, as they seamlessly transition to high school and set their sights on college and career. Imagine the sea change in their futures as these students go on to obtain their college degree and create a community where education is valued, employment is expected, and excellence is the norm.
K-8 Youth Development provides rigorous academic interventions, college prep workshops, civic engagement projects, STEM/arts enrichment activities, and health/nutrition programming to vulnerable elementary and middle school students in an out-of-school-time setting. Students receive one hour of targeted literacy/math intervention and 45 minutes of voice and choice enrichment programming each day. We expose students to an array of disciplines, helping them find and follow pathways to success.
Each Site Coordinator partners closely with teachers and leadership at his/her assigned school site to craft out-of-school-time curricula and lesson plans that align with current classroom objectives, Common Core standards, and district priorities. When selecting educational resources, we prioritize those that can be adapted to suit learners of all styles and proficiencies, focusing on evidence-based, research validated, and culturally-relevant programs. For example, we use the evidence-based STAR Reading and STAR Math assessments to identify strengths/weaknesses, create learning plans, and measure improvement throughout the year.
Our students have full voice and choice during enrichment time, giving them the opportunity to engage with content that is both challenging and inspiring. Concerning internal curricula, our Site Coordinators and tutors use their educational backgrounds and professional development knowledge to develop interactive content. We also weave a variety of external partners into our work. These partners truly enhance our program because they are aligned to the interests of our students and build upon our academic goals. For example, through our partnership with Urban Green Lab, students are learning how to become conservation stewards and contribute to a more sustainable planet. Similarly, our partners at Southern World are teaching students to analyze hip hop music and create their own spoken word poetry as a means to positively express their emotions and affect change.