Putting Education on Our Shoulders – the Stride Tote

It is that time of year again. Families and friends have gathered together for the big meal and we have begun the annual practice of taking stock of all of the things in our lives that we can be thankful for as we prepare for the holiday season.

We at Stride are extremely thankful for the support we have received from our donors. We are preparing to send our inaugural class to college, and we could not have done it without you.

Now it is time for us to begin thinking of the next generation of Stride students. Stride works with children living in high poverty/high risk communities by providing them with both financial and emotional aid as they work to achieve a higher education.

These are the kids that need our help.

As a way for Stride to say thank you for your continued support, we are offering for the first time, some Stride swag! Donors who contribute $40.00 by December 31, 2012 will receive our new tote bag.

Not only is does this stylish bag proclaim you a supporter of New York City students and a friend to the environment, it helps send students to college. And that is something we can all be thankful for.

Pretty sweet bag, huh?

To donate, just hit the donate button on the right side of this screen.  Remember, $40.00 = cool new tote bag!

As always, don’t forget to follow us on twitter @stridenyc and check out our new facebook page.

Thanks,

Chloe and the Stride Team

Helping High School Students from Freshmen Year Until College

“In a city where three quarters of New York City students who were high school freshmen in 2006 did not leave high school prepared for college, what happens early on is critical.” Liz Willen, InsideSchools.org

A few weeks ago, InsideSchools.org writer Liz Willen penned a post for the High School Hustle column titled, “Support for Freshmen?” In it she described the multitude of challenges facing students as they transition from middle school into their high school careers. The physical excertion of long commutes and longer days adults can relate to, even if we’ve blocked the trials of growth spurts out of our memories.

The adjustment to larger classes, increased pressure to perform, and adjusting to a more difficult coursework also takes its toll. Willen asks, “… should high school freshmen have some extra help and support, or should they be taught to get their act together on their own, in preparation for the tough and highly competitive world they have now entered?”

We know what our answer is.

At Stride our mission is give students the best opportunity possible to be prepared for life after high school. Part of this is through mentoring and the other part is the Stride scholarship, granted to students in the freshmen year of high school to assure them that their hard work will pay off with a paid-for college education.

Let us know what you think. Should students take responsibility for preparing themselves for their future? Should this be the responsibility of the schools or should nonprofit organizations like Stride be stepping up to assume this role. Let us know what you think by posting a comment to this post on our website, stridenyc.org.

Click here to follow @stridenyc on twitter,

…and Friend our new facebook page here.

 

We’ve Got Some Work to Do

A Compelling New Website from WNYC and the New York Times

Greetings from Stride!

Recently the New York Times and WNYC radio partnered up to create SchoolBook, a website dedicated to providing data, news, and discussion about the New York City school system. It’s a discussion we wholeheartedly embrace, and it provides a tremendous amount of telling information about the state of education in New York.

Stride focuses on children living in high poverty/high risk communities by providing them with both financial and emotional aid as they work to achieve a higher education. Even in a City as advanced as New York, there is no shortage of high risk communities.

Our partners at Washington Irving High School, for instance, are located right in Union Square, one of the busiest commercial and residential districts in the nation. To the millions of tourists who walk through Union Square every day, poverty is not the word that comes to mind, yet the students there face challenges that simply are not present in the typical high schools.

The results can be seen in the data.

Just 42% of Washington Irving students plan on attending a four year college, and only 40% earn a Regents diploma in four years.

These numbers paint a striking picture of the state of education at Washington Irving, but it is even more astonishing that in New York, these numbers are considered “average.”

Our goal at Stride is to address these alarming numbers by keeping students in school, and encouraging participation beyond graduation. Your donations help make that happen.

We want to encourage you to look around the SchoolBook website, http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook, to learn more about the state of schools in New York City and join the discussion.

You can also go to our recently revamped website, stridenyc.org to learn about our innovative scholarship and mentoring program and how we are working to address dropout rates in public schools.

Sincerely,

Chloe and the Stride Team

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Statement on Recent NY Post Articles on Washington Irving High School

You may have seen some articles recently in the NY Post accusing school administrators at Washington Irving High School of finding ways to raise grades for students in order to improve graduation rates.

These articles exemplify how necessary it is in a school district with a dismal 63% four-year graduation rate that we improve the school system the right way: addressing these issues while students are still freshmen, keeping students in school, and encouraging participation in education beyond graduation.

We hope that you continue to support Stride in its mission to improve graduation rates in troubled schools by providing scholarships during the freshman year and taking the fear of not being able to afford a college education off the table. Stride engages students by providing mentoring and support throughout our students high school years. Through your continued support, we can make a true difference in addressing the issues that impact graduation rates at their source.

NY Post Article: http://nyp.st/nYBTrd
NY Post Editorial: http://nyp.st/q0Bu3z

From Tenzin…

One of our students sent me this note the other day. It was so beautifully composed and such a thoughtful letter, that I couldn’t help but share it with all of you…

“I am very fortunate, besieged, excited, ready, and slightly nervous to start my senior year at Washington Irving High School. I would like to thank everyone who has generously and thoughtfully been with me until now. I am so excited to apply to colleges and I am hoping for the best results. Knowing that Stride is supporting me is a great feeling to discover many more opportunities and continue what I have accomplished these past years.” – Tenzin

Chloe Kaplan Hall, President
Stride Foundation

Hooray! Summer is Over!

We know that is not what you were probably thinking, but on Wednesday, September 7, a new school year will begin for New York City students and we could not be more excited. There will be new opportunities to learn, grow, and have fun for students all over the five boroughs. For Tenzin and Alejandra, who comprise Stride’s founding class, it will be their final year at Washington Irving High School as they prepare to go to college next fall.

When we asked the students how they felt approaching their senior year, this is what they said:

“Omg it feels like just yesterday since I walked into W.I.H.S and now its my last year, I’m so excited for my senior year!” – Alejandra

“It’s amazing that I am a Senior this year. I can’t wait to see what this year brings and I’m excited to apply to college!” – Tenzin

This is an exciting time for Stride as well. It seems like just yesterday that we were filling out paperwork to become a 501(c)3 and taking our first steps as an organization by awarding Alejandra and Tenzin the very first scholarships in our history. They were only freshmen then, but now they are seniors and we are incredibly proud of their accomplishments. Both have grown so much as students, as members of the community, and as people over the past few years.

Stride has grown too. We now have seven board members dedicated to strengthening our organization, mentors for each student, and a brand new website. As the new school year begins, we are incredibly excited about what the future holds.

We believe we can help improve the graduation rate in New York City pubic schools by awarding scholarships during the freshmen year and allowing students to focus on their studies secure in the knowledge that their hard work will pay off upon graduation. We are proud to have the faculty and staff of Washington Irving High School as our partners.

Of course, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the help and support of many of you. Your contributions have made a tremendous impact on the future of these students and our organization. We can’t thank you enough for all you have done.

This year we will begin preparing for a new class of Stride scholarship students and we need your help spreading the word.  Make sure to visit our Facebook page for news and updates, and follow us on Twitter. As always, we hope to see you at our annual fundraiser, but contributions can also be made anytime in the Donate section of the website.

Thank you for your continued support,

Sincerely,

The Stride Team

A word from our students

(Originally posted December 15, 2010)

Alejandra and Tenzin, Stride’s inaugural class of high school students, are in the midst of their junior years and are excelling!  Below we share some of their reflections on what they’ve accomplished thus far.

***

Dear Stride,

First of all, I would like to wish you a joyful holiday and a happy new year, full of happiness and prosperity. Lots of wonderful things have happened in my life that I hope to continue to impact my future. I hope I will be able to share with you as a new year comes even more good news!

I am giving my best effort in my studies, and I took advantage of the opportunities I have discovered. I got accepted into S-PREP at Columbia University, and I attend there on Saturdays and take Physiology and SAT Math Prep classes since October. Through this program, I recently got accepted into the Columbia University Pipeline Program sponsored by the Charles Drew Premedical Society where I have a mentor from Columbia University. Over the summer, it was very nice to go back to Sloan Kettering and work there as a patient escort. I am grateful for the people I met this year and I am thankful to my family for always supporting me.

I am also thankful to my mentor, Roberta, for always being there for me and for the entire Stride’s members. I would like to take this moment and thank you for being part of the Stride foundation and helping students like me turn my dreams a little closer to being realities.

Best Wishes, Tenzin Yingsal

***

Dear Stride,

Here are some of the things that I can be proud of from this past year:

1.  My dance studio won entertainer of the year in our “That’sEntertainment Dance Nationals” 2. I got accepted to do an externship with 1st grade students and have been enjoying working with the kids, especially since teaching is my passion. 3.  I got a 95 in my math class 1st marking period. 4.  I received a small scholarship in my dance studio which helped to cover the cost of the classes that I take. 5.  I got asked to dance in Washington Irving High School’s Christmas Show.

Thank you for all of your continued support.

Sincerely, Alejandra Romero

Making it happen

Stride relies on private donations for all funding.  The private donations make it possible for Stride to build a fund that will support the day-to-day operations of the program, as well as provide the promised college scholarship to each of the students enrolled.  Stride is operating under Chloe Kaplan, Founder and President and Sabina Breece, Chairperson.  Chloe Kaplan and Sabina Breece dedicate 20 hours per week to growing and building the Stride community.  This includes organizing the annual fundraisers, pursuing grant and funding opportunities, and marketing.  Once the first class of students is accepted into the program in the Fall of 2008, Chloe Kaplan and Sabina Breece, will be directly involved in the students’ progress on a bi-weekly basis.  Washington Irving faculty will be asked to notify Stride leadership of any academic issues that may arise with any of the students.  Stride’s mentors will also be actively involved in each of the student’s growth throughout their high school career and encouraged to maintain a mentor relationship with the student after graduation.

School failure has many causes. However, the single, most common disadvantage of kids who fail is the lack of traditional support in their immediate communities – family, neighborhood, and school.  Historically, poverty in America was overcome by motivated young people. These young people found their incentives in the interlocking networks of adults around them, who cared for them, gave them the encouragement and the help they needed.  We still see this in some of the more cohesive immigrant groups, but it is sadly absent from too many sectors of our society, notably in the inner city schools that have become drop-out factories, and the neighborhoods around them that have become concrete jungles of social, economic, and spiritual neglect.  The Stride idea is to demonstrate that this culture of despair can be reversed, by showing how communities and students can work together to achieve high school success.  Starting extremely small – five students, in one New York City high school, growing to about 40 students over five years and only then branching out toward other high schools, the Stride goal is nonetheless extremely bold and large.  If we want to, we can change the meaning of high school for inner-city kid.

More About The Program

THE STRIDE PROGRAM

Stride addresses the issue of high school drop out rates in the New York City Public School system, at the source, by keeping students in school, and encouraging participation in education beyond graduation.  By utilizing an investment/reward approach, Stride requires that selected students participate in community service and internship opportunities throughout their high school years.  Every year students participate in Stride, their scholarship incentives grow.  After graduating from high school, participants will be awarded scholarships to the college of their choice, having gained job and life skills along the way. This approach allows students to give back to their communities while investing in their own futures.

In order to combat an alarming percentage of teenage drop-outs, Stride selected Washington Irving High School, located in New York City’s Union Square, to be the first school to benefit from the program.  The Washington Irving High School student population grew from 2,400 in 2002-2003 to 3,000 in 2003-2004 due to overflow from other public schools around New York City.  Educators blame the overcrowding at Washington Irving for its inability to maintain high attendance or to contain the frequent outbursts of violence in its classrooms and halls.  By January 2004, Washington Irving was placed on the list of the city’s most dangerous schools, falling into the category of Impact Schools.  Washington Irving was removed from the list in January 2005, after a year of heightened security and extra police officers assigned to the school; however, low attendance and graduation rates remain a critical concern, with just half of the freshman class actually graduating four years later.  In 2005 Washington Irving had 1,243 freshmen students enrolled and just 141 seniors. Of those seniors, just a little more than half went on to pursue a 4-year college education.  On average, well over 1,000 students get lost in the shuffle between 9th and 12th grade.  This is a significant drop in students and typical of a given year at the high school.  With such numbers, it is evident that Washington Irving students need incentives to stay in school and to strive for graduation.

In the Fall 2008, Stride will enroll the first five high school freshmen students into the program.  Stride leadership will work closely with Washington Irving faculty to determine which students are accepted into the program.

Over the course of the following years, Stride will continue to enroll freshmen students while, simultaneously, working with the upperclassmen already enrolled in the program.  Stride’s involvement in the student’s high school career will include:

Encouraging students to maintain an acceptable GPA (to be determined by Washington Irving faculty and Stride leadership,) by staying informed and involved in the student’s day-to-day activities.  Stride will also provide each student with a mentor.  Stride’s mentors commit to a minimum of one hour per month with their assigned student.  Mentors work on a volunteer basis.  In the event that a mentor cannot fulfill his or her obligations, Stride will provide an alternate for the student.

Stride will provide internship opportunities during the summer months.  Starting in their transition from 10th to 11th grade, students would be able to apply for internships provided by Stride partners – the businesses contributing to the program.

Stride requires a minimum amount of community service on entering the 10th Grade.  Stride students will develop a volunteer project of their own design, conduct the project throughout the school year, and then report on it, in writing, to the Stride leadership at the end of the year.  This project could be continued each subsequent year, or the student could develop something new to do each school year until reaching the 12th grade.  Regardless of what they choose to do, or how they do it, students must participate in some kind of civic engagement during their 10th and 11th grade years in order to maintain Stride enrollment.

Upon receiving acceptance to an accredited 4-year college or university, a Stride student will be eligible to receive the promised scholarship. The hope is that their Stride scholarship has underlined their motivation, and has been inspiration throughout their high school career.  The amount awarded would be contingent upon Stride funding, on the total amount of funds needed by the student, and on each student’s success in navigating the program.  The funds awarded would be given for each year that the student is matriculated at their chosen college or university.  Should there be a need, Stride leadership would review specific cases where a student might transfer schools or need to attend part time.  By focusing on five students per year, Stride will be able to maintain personal relationships with each of the students. The program’s small size will give the students the attention they need to stay focused and committed to graduating from high school, and to gain acceptance to college. Thereby, going on to become productive and educated members of their communities.