The is partnering with community groups to create an intensive program that they hope will address the needs of its most vulnerable students.
In development since last spring, the program, dubbed Union City Kids’ Zone, is a collaboration of local entities that aim to give disadvantaged students the services needed to be successful “from cradle-to-career.”
“The underpinning theory of Kids’ Zone is to fight poverty, implementing innovative approaches that surpass the limits of traditional approaches in addressing student achievement and success,” said NHUSD Superintendent Kari McVeigh in a staff report presented to the Board of Education Tuesday night.
“Kids’ Zone intends to serve an entire neighborhood comprehensively and at scale by creating a pipeline of support; building community among residents, institutions and other stakeholders, and cultivating a culture of success rooted in passion, accountability, leadership and teamwork,” she said.
The initial effort will be concentrated in the Decoto neighborhood in collaboration with the , , Congregations Organizing for Renewal, Kidango, and other community groups.
A neighborhood with a large immigrant population, Decoto was selected as an area of focus for various reasons. According to the presentation, some of those factors included:
- a history of insufficient resources and economic injustice
- poverty, with 62 percent of New Haven students qualifying for free or reduced lunch
- a history of gang activity, crime and violence
- low academic performance: 34.2 percent of Decoto third grade students and 29.7 percent of sixth grade students are proficient in English and language arts; 27.2 percent of Decoto sixth graders are proficient in math; 20.5 percent of Decoto high school students are proficient in algebra; and 59.7 percent of Decoto students graduate
To tackle these key concerns, the Kids’ Zone will focus on social health and educational development for students and their families by building upon the existing programs and resources in the community.
With social services integrated into the program, the Kids’ Zone will see to it that Decoto families prioritize college and career readiness, that all Decoto children have access to high-quality early education and that all Kids’ Zone students reach high academic levels.
“Only through a partnership of committed community groups could every student be guaranteed success,” McVeigh wrote.