Leaders from Bronx charter transfer schools Urban Dove and John V. Lindsay Wildcat called on elected officials Wednesday to deliver fair funding to their students.
For nearly a decade, charter transfer schools, which serve over-age, under-credited and at-risk high school students have been systematically denied access by the NYC Department of Education, DOE, to its “Learn To Work” grant program, which funds community-based organizations so they can partner with transfer schools and provide students with important non-academic services.
Learn to Work grants pay for attendance intervention counselors, workforce training, paid internships, college counseling, social-emotional services and other supports – all critical interventions for supporting vulnerable students who are at risk of not graduating high school.
“For years, the de Blasio administration has promised to right this wrong, and they’ve promised to make charter transfer schools eligible for these critical services,” said Urban Dove Executive Director Jai Nanda. “But there has been delay after delay and excuse after excuse. This is very simple: At this perilous moment for students, at-risk children have been targeted by adults and denied fair access to this important program – simply because they attend a charter transfer school. It’s wrong, and we are calling for these grants to be funded in the FY22 budget for all transfer schools – not just some.”
Yet these grants have been made accessible to all transfer schools citywide, except a handful of charter transfer schools, because they are public charter schools. That has meant that schools such as Urban Dove and John V. Lindsay Wildcat have been denied access to DOE grants and millions of dollars to fund these interventions.
Now, after a challenging year during the pandemic, and as federal funding to support schools, districts and students has removed any financial barriers to fully fund these grants, charter transfer high schools are speaking out. The schools also sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling on him to make charter transfer schools eligible now for the Learn to Work program through the $500 million “academic recovery plan” City Hall is designing.
They also released a candidate pledge for the mayoral candidates, calling on the next occupant of City Hall to do the right thing and make at-risk children in charter transfer schools eligible for these services.
“Transfer students like myself require these extracurricular programs to help us succeed in school. I am a New York City public city school student, and today I speak on behalf of thousands of students who attend our schools,” said Kayla D., a student at Urban Dove Charter School.