Will Mayor de Blasio’s new budget save COMPASS?

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Students on their way to a rally to save their after-school program.

On June 30, nearly 2000 kids will lose the safe, welcoming place they go to every day after school.

COMPASS, the after-school program started by Bloomberg, was never meant to be a permanent part of the city’s programming. But the city may have underestimated how important these programs would become to the kids they serve.

Providing individualized tutoring and homework help, plus a full slate of enrichment activities to help students find their talents and develop social emotional skills, these programs were desperately needed community resources in underserved neighborhoods, and a waitlist quickly formed. But unless the revised budget, scheduled to be released tomorrow, provides funding for the programs, they will be cut.

letter to save compass

Maya Abigail, a student at PS 273, woke up on a Saturday and wrote this letter on behalf of her after-school program.

The 17 locations serve 1900 students citywide. Two locations–PS 96 in South Ozone Park and PS 273 in Richmond Hill–are a part of The Child Center’s youth development programs, and students here have been mounting a campaign to save the programs. They’ve written letters, painted posters, held rallies, marched on Queens Borough Hall, and shared videos and images online.

“It is very scary not knowing what lies next for us,” said Shantryce Hare, the director at the COMPASS program at PS 96 in South Ozone Park.  “These students see after school as their second home. Losing this program means leaving hundreds of students without a safe, supportive and motivating environment to complement what they learned during the day.”

Saher Mahmood, program supervisor of the COMPASS program at PS 273, said, “Parents trusted us to be in the lives of their children and this community, and we quickly became a part of the village that it takes to raise a child. It is an extraordinary feeling–we have the power to empower these children, to give them stability and encourage them, and help them find bright futures. We hope that we can continue to provide robust programming that provides a safe and fun place for our youth to grow.”

Mayor de Blasio’s first budget, released in April, did not provide funding for the programs. His office is expected to release a revised budget Thursday, May 7.

Learn more and see videos made by the students at https://www.facebook.com/groups/OSTps273/

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