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Meet Inner-City Students Reversing H.S. Drop-Out Trend

Posted on August 9, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Find Out How They Do It

Touring the White House, camping upstate, visiting colleges in state and out; New York City students shared these memories and more in this just-released video featuring how an innovative partnership between George Washington High School for Health Careers & Sciences and Catholic Charities Alianza Division helps them thrive.

 “Since we go outside and experiment, I see things and, oh my gosh, I want to be and meet everybody and everything” says Hawa, a junior covered in a black and white hijab. “When you put in the hard work you can be anything you wish.”

Fast Facts about the High School for Health Careers & Sciences student body:*

97% qualify for free or reduced lunch based on household income

99% minority enrollment

A large percentage speak Spanish at home

*Public School Review

“Our goal is to make sure every single student applies to a post secondary school or vocational or a job,” says Catholic Charities Program Coordinator Rosmeris Camilo as students smile in their red and white caps and gown.  “They have to have a plan when they graduate.”

Catholic Charities’ work in Washington Heights is part of the NYC Community School initiative.  As the lead community-based organization at the High School for Health Careers & Sciences, Catholic Charities offers not only inspiring trips and help with school and college applications but also the day-to-day support these students need to succeed. 

It serves as a neighborhood hub where students receive high-quality academic instruction, families access social services, and communities congregate to share resources and address challenges.

“The college application process was very confusing to me since in my family I’m the first one that would be going to college,” says Jellamee. “They helped me through all the process, scholarships, grants and loans.”

The community school approach prioritizes student wellness, readiness to learn, personalized instruction, community partnerships and family engagement as key strategies to leverage better academic outcomes among high-need students.

“Thanks to Catholic Charities, close to 30 students now have lawyers working with them on their immigration status,” says Catholic Charities Alianza Director Eddie Silverio. “We have the impact and capacity to get young people glasses; we get them mental health services.”

Community Schools recognize that students who are hungry, can’t see the blackboard, or are missing school regularly face critical obstacles to learning in the classroom. By providing an extra meal, connecting a parent to job training, or enrolling a student in an afterschool program, they can lower barriers to learning and help kids succeed.

  • “It’s been a journey,” says Genesis, a senior sporting an “honors student” t-shirt.
  • “Growth,” adds Odyssey, a sophomore.
  • “Awesome, “ says Brissa, a fellow sophomore.

 “Our mission is to create an environment that not provides not only physical safety but also psychological safety,” says Catholic Charities Community Schools Director Peter Tinguely, “a place to be comfortable, face challenging decisions and explore.”

Learn more about Catholic Charities services for children and youth