Effort Highlights Value of Community-Based Organizations’ Strong Ties to Quickly Assess and Address Educational Needs
(East Harlem, NY) — Amid a citywide school shutdown, East Harlem Scholars Academies launched a full virtual-learning program for its scholars Monday morning, distributing laptops to more than 500 families, as well as Wifi access to almost 200 of them.
It is just one of the steps that the school network, an extension of the 62-year-old nonprofit East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP), is taking to ensure that its community of 1,200 students can keep up with their studies and stay in touch with their school community. Educators facilitated lessons through Google Classroom; meanwhile, the organization’s High School after-school program launched virtual tutoring via Zoom. The organization’s virtual College Mentoring Program will start this evening.
In addition, EHTP is providing free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals daily to its students and their families at its 2050 Second Avenue site. The organization has also converted the gym at that facility into a library for College Scholars, whose campuses are closed (to ensure social distancing, capacity is capped).
“East Harlem Tutorial Program has always been incredibly dedicated to the community,” said Executive Director Jeffrey Ginsburg. “I’m so proud of our team of educators, who worked tirelessly over the weekend to ensure we wouldn’t miss a beat in providing a quality education to our scholars. It is a testament to their passion and commitment that we were one of the first in New York City to roll out a virtual learning plan.”
EHTP closed its physical spaces on March 7 and 8 for precautionary deep cleaning; amid rising safety concerns, East Harlem Scholars Academies made the decision to close their doors on Friday, March 13. The community-based organization, acutely attuned to the educational inequities families of color often experience, sent school surveys in advance of the shutdown to assess technological needs. This allowed the organization to be proactive in its planning, and serve its families in real time. Scholars had little to no interruptions in their learning.
To date, neither EHTP nor its Scholars Academies have any confirmed cases of COVID-19. While the organization is following Department of Education guidelines and is closing its doors until at least April 20, its leadership is prepared to continue virtual learning for as long as necessary.
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About East Harlem Tutorial Program: EHTP prepares students with the academic skills, strength of character and emotional well-being to excel in high school and college, to lead in their communities, and to realize their best possible selves. Over six decades, the organization has grown from a small tutoring program into a multi-site college preparatory and after-school program, and is the operator of five Pre-K to 9 schools and a Teaching Residency.