Launch of the INSPIRE Program
Thanks to the generosity of Grace Works, Grace Community Services was able to launch a pilot program for ten students from the Beloved Charter School during the 2019-2020 school year. The students come from various socio-economic circumstances, many with demonstrated leadership skills. The Inspire Program was created to build a network of support around its students from the 6th grade through college, supplying everything needed to achieve their goals in adulthood. The program is doing this by 1) Providing a Social Worker who is focused entirely on the academic and social/emotional needs of the INSPIRE students. 2) Offering one-on-one tutoring for students in need of academic help. 3) Offering enrichment programing for those who would benefit from accelerated learning 4) Organizing vocational field trips during which students meet professionals from a variety of disciplines and introduce them to a wide range of careers. Our goal is to spark their curiosity, develop critical thinking and leadership skills. Ultimately, we would like for the students to have a wider understanding of what is possible for them in the future.
The program director is Maria Robles, MSW. During the past school year she met with the students on a weekly basis becoming familiar with their academic challenges, gifts, and family dynamics. Maria has worked closely with all of these children and their families to identify what unique supports are needed to help them reach their potential.
The individualized tutoring and support INSPIRE students received significantly improved many of their grades. However, the pandemic has had a negative effect on our kids. The shift to virtual learning hit the same head winds all educational programs did. All of the students found virtual learning less fruitful and as the weeks went by it became harder for them to focus. The tutoring continued during the summer and the students found it to be very beneficial.
This summer INSPIRE Committee decided to perform an evaluation of the program after our inaugural year. We met with both the students and their parents. They shared that the field trips were the most beneficial part of the program. Going to visit Google headquarters in Manhattan was a highlight. They spent a day with Paul Silverman who spoke about the neighborhood he is creating.They were introduced them to an architect and construction workers. Another highlight was taking photographs with Chi Modu and learning about his work as a professional photographer. These are just a handful of the field trips that opened the INSPIRE student’s understanding of a larger world filled with possibilities they might not have been able to imagine before.