Ossining UFSD unveils free, bilingual after-school program
Nearly 200 students are already enrolled in a free and bilingual after-school program at the Brookside Elementary School in Ossining.
"Education United" is targeted to reach immigrant and low-income families.
"This is game-changing," said Tom Gabriel, United Way of Westchester and Putnam president.
The program officially launched in mid-February and is led by the nonprofit United Way of Westchester and Putnam.
It offers students help with their homework, a chance to exercise and learning opportunities outside the classroom for free and in the language they speak most comfortably.
"The curriculum in this program is going to help them close the learning gap for their children and because it's bilingual it's setting them up for success in the future," said Gabriel.
Melissa Ferraro's first grader is enrolled.
"She loves the structure, she gets her homework done, she gets to play with her friends," says the Ossining parent.
More than 40% of households in Westchester and Putnam are living at the poverty line or paycheck-to-paycheck, according to United Way.
So this opportunity allows parents to know their kids are safe and learning while also working to continue providing for themselves.
"Their kids are being cared for and they're putting more dollars into paying bills and saving for the future," said Gabriel.
The program's early success comes at a time when some school districts in the Hudson Valley are preparing for the possibility of welcoming additional migrant children who have come with their families from the southern border.
Brookside Elementary School plans to add another 200 spots this September and expand into the Greenburgh Central School District for an additional 200 students this fall as well.
"It's paramount for so many parents who do work at least until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. to know that their child is somewhere that is safe, secure, and cares about them," said Ferraro.
The program is being funded by a $1.5 million federal grant for five years.