This summer was an exciting time for Apex for Youth. We offered two 4-week summer programs for students in our School’s Out NYC after school programs. Our We Run As One summer basketball league with the Dynasty Project had 18 teams and over 200 players participate. We offered our first ever art & movement program for 1st-3rd graders. Finally, Apex provided 12 college scholarships to our graduating seniors.
I’m proud to report 71% of our graduating senior mentees were accepted into private or state colleges this year. That’s even better than Brooklyn Tech, one of the top high schools in the city. Getting our mentees into private and state colleges was a goal we set for ourselves at the beginning of last year, and we hope to do even better this coming year.
The unfortunate fact is, not all of the youth Apex serves join the mentoring program, and not all of mentees stay with Apex through senior year of high school (though we do have an excellent retention rate in the mentoring program: 80-90% of our mentees stay each year). Mentoring is our only program where students are designed to continue year after year. While our other programs provide a high-quality service, students from those programs do not join our mentoring program afterwards, and we have few ways to stay in touch. It’s like the summer camp my 3-year-old son just participated in–he had a great time this summer and it was a terrific program, but the camp will not know whether my son makes it through to college.
Rather than serving students piecemeal through separate programs, we want to create a pipeline of students from 3rd through 12th grade who are confident, ready for college and active in the community. We want our services to align to the needs of each individual child, not the other way around. We want the youth who come to Apex to stay with Apex, and ultimately succeed with Apex.
To achieve this, our strategic plan identified a few necessary changes. To engage and retain students from a younger age, we will need to extend our mentoring services to elementary school. If our goal is to retain our students from 3rd through 12th grade, we will need to modify our curriculum so that each year progressively builds on our various goals. Last, if we want to monitor and track the outcomes of our youth, we will need to add staff capacity and expertise.
While it sounds like we’re adding a lot of new things, we are actually building on what this organization has always been about: serving Asian immigrant youth in underserved communities. Once we’ve built this foundation, we will be able to empower more struggling students throughout this city and maybe even beyond.