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‘Summer Rising’: New York turns the heat up on education for city’s youth

New York City is looking to expand a youth mentoring program and is in need of more adult volunteers. Photo Credit: iStock

Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to go for broke this summer and launch new programming for the youth, he said in his briefing this Tuesday.

The Summer Rising Initiative, said de Blasio, focuses on reaching all public school students, ranging from kindergarten through high school, that want to participate in additional programming and enrichment activities.

“This year is so important to really build partnerships to bring our schools back and to make Summer Rising an experience like no other,” said Department of Education (DOE) Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, also present at the mayor’s briefing.

De Blasio said it’s estimated that 200,000 kids will be participating in the program this summer and it will cost about $120 million to run. The program is during the week and free, said de Blasio, which can be a great alternative for childcare as parents get back to work.

High school students will also see the return of Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) opportunities this summer.

There will be remote programming available for students mandated for summer learning or have a 12-month Individualized Education Program (IEP). Senior Executive Director at the DOE Chris Caruso added that they are partnering with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), social workers, and other mental health professionals to ensure that IEP students and others have support.

Porter said that the goal is to have more school buildings open and outdoor fun for children and adolescents heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Porter said principals are trying to be as thoughtful as possible about students and their needs this summer.

“We’ll be able to provide students across the city with a holistic summer experience. This will include academic support, social and emotional learning, and exciting enrichment opportunities. And, it couldn’t come at a better time after a year of heroic work on the part of our families and schools, we are embarking on an unprecedented reimagining of what summer needs to be,” said Porter. “After a uniquely challenging year, I’m so excited to give our students something to look forward to.”

City Council Member Mark Treyger called the ambitious initiative a “grand slam” for beginning to address inequities for IEP students, multilingual learners, socially isolated youth, and teens looking for employment. “I think that we’re hitting on all cylinders to best meet the needs of our kids at this very trying time, and to create a bridge connection for a deeper connection in the fall,” said Treyger. 

Of course de Blasio had to swing back to reiterating that safety for students was also a main concern. 

“There will be regular testing, we’ll keep adjusting as the data and science warrants, but the basic concept is that there’ll be regular testing. There’ll be a situation room, and we’ll act according to what we see, site by site,” said de Blasio. “That said we’re really encouraged by what we’re seeing overall in our school community and I expect it will only get better.”

Applications for Summer Rising open on Monday, April 26.

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