STORY’s ML2 Youth Development Program, began as a pilot in 2015 to address the need for quality youth programs in Hopewell and specifically to improve math and literacy scores among public housing youth. The afterschool and mentoring programs are provided at no cost to low-income families thanks to generous grant support from local foundations, the Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and individual donations. Participants receive homework assistance and tutoring, mentoring, and field trips. Our program has bimonthly parent socials to keep parents engaged with our program and their children’s educational progress. STORY has provided after-school care, summer programs, and mentoring for more than 100 children in the Thomas Rolfe Court public housing community.
Youth who attend regularly have shown a marked improvement in grades, literacy, and citizenship. Over the course of five years, ML2 participants have gone from 36 to 85% skill level in their math and literacy grades and shown tremendous improvement in leadership skills. Our summer program focuses primarily on STEM activities and includes a weekly field trip. STORY partners with other agencies and nonprofits in the area to provide cultural and creative arts and healthy relationship activities. ML2 is based on a proven logic model that increases the academic success of youth from low-income communities, therefore giving them a greater opportunity to graduate high school in a region with a high dropout rate. Our program is delivered using a trauma-informed care approach and training is available to all staff and volunteers who interact with ML2 youth. We began offering mindfulness activities in coordination with our systems change work in 2019 and intend to expand in this program area to assist with trauma incurred from adverse childhood experiences (ACES).
It is our goal to increase ML2 program sites throughout the Southside region by partnering with housing communities, school districts, and citizens who wish to help us transform lives one story at a time.