These college students can bring their kids along for summer school.
Hostos Community College is now part of a national network using two-generation approaches to fight poverty.
The South Bronx college received a $50,000 grant in April from the Aspen Institute Ascend Network to run a pilot program this summer that will allow 25 student who are also parents to attend one class this summer while their children attend Hostos’ College for Kids Summer Academy, both free of charge.
Felix Matos Rodriguez, president of CUNY Hostos, said the idea came from discussions the school had with students who are parents who “would like to use to the summer more.”
The grant combats the two main obstacles that keep student-parents from continuing their education in the warmer months, he said.
First, he said financial aid usually does not cover summer classes. Second, student-parents lack childcare while school is out. The grant also allows for a free metro card for each student.
The benefit is that the parents will be able to complete their program more quickly. The summer academy, open to kids 5-14, provides “stellar academic enrichment”, and introduces the concept of college to them early, said Matos Rodriguez. “We all know education is valuable in terms of human capital,” he said. “Investment in two generations makes the most sense.”
He noted the percentage of Hostos students who are parents is in the “high forties”, and that it’s important to the school to support that population.
He feels strongly about the need for a two generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty, saying “You’re not going to make a dent on quality of life until you do so.”
The school will select the 25 students with the help of guidance counselors, and their progress tracked, looking at retention and graduation data for measures of success, said Odalys Diaz Piñeiro, Director of Special Projects at Hostos.
The children’s progress also will be tracked throughout the summer with academic testing before and after the camp.
Matos Rodriguez has high hopes for its implications, calling it “a pilot program based on common sense and things we know work.”