Giving Kids a Shot

After-School All-Stars Cleveland (ASAS Cleveland) serves a population of students whose schools have suffered from poor academic performance and low-test scores. ASAS Cleveland launched at their first school in 2015. “While we have made some progress, we still have a lot of work to do,” said Traci L. Jadlos, the ASAS Cleveland Executive Director. With three school sites: Case Elementary, Hannah Gibbons STEM Elementary, Patrick Henry Elementary, ASAS Cleveland serves low-income communities with under-resourced schools and students who suffer from homelessness and food insecurity. More than 90% of their students qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

Case Elementary is close to downtown Cleveland, but like many schools in urban areas, the students witness more asphalt than greenery in their playgrounds. Recently, in an intense scrimmage match, the basketball hoops on campus were damaged. With no funds to repair the hoops, the school’s opportunities for physical activity significantly decreased. Through a Dominion Energy Foundation grant, ASAS Cleveland replaced the basketball hoops. Hoop Heroes is a summer day camp free to students and funded by ASAS Cleveland, through the generous support of Dominion, and the Rainey Institute, ensure these hoops saw plenty of positive action during the summer months. The camp pairs students with adult mentors in their community while leveraging basketball to expose kids to career and educational paths.

ASAS Cleveland is working to engage as many students as possible through their daily after-school programming. To increase participation, there was a March Madness competition around the students’ attendance. At the end of every week, they would tally up the number of times a student showed up and rewarded those students with the highest attendance. Their attention to student retention goes beyond student engagement, as they are committed to checking up on their student whenever they stop showing up to after-school programs. As a result, their average daily attendance has increased by 47% in the last year. As ASAS Cleveland looks to continue this growth, and increase engagement with students, they applied for and received a 21st Century grant that allows them to extend their student’s afterschool time by half an hour and hire more college interns that can provide additional support and mentorship to students.

When ASAS Cleveland first arrived at Hannah Gibbons Elementary, the principal expressed a strong desire for a coding class for 7th and 8th graders. ASAS Cleveland responded to the need for a coding class despite initial low interest from students. However, by the end of the year, the kids enjoyed the course so much that they were starting to code in their free time and during other programs. The principal’s office is now regularly visited by students wanting to share their progress on recent projects and their excitement about new possibilities. The principal was also impressed by ASAS Cleveland’s strong parent communication and support. Teachers at Hannah Gibbon Elementary share that they love how the program creates community and that parents responded positively in surveys about consistent and effective communication from ASAS in their community. This critical communication with parents is essential as these schools work hard in partnership with ASAS to turn around academic performance and improve school conditions.