Keystone/West Seventh Providing for our Future

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside…

[Creed and Masser/Whitney Houston]

The Keystone Community Services Community Kids After School and SummerCampprograms, operated in partnership with St. Paul Public Schools, recently received notice that they have been funded for three years (with the possibility of a three-year extension, depending on federal funding) as a Minnesota 21stCentury Community Learning Centerby the Minnesota Department of Education (administering federal funds). This funding comes after a rigorous process of evaluation and represents a level of achievement of which our community is proud.These federal funds are awarded through a competitive peer review process that prioritizes programs serving students in high-poverty, low-performing schools.

The importance of providing educational and social enrichment opportunities after school and during the summer months inspires Keystone’s Community Kids program. It is an accredited, year-round out-of-school-time program that features high-level services with a dual focus on school success and social-emotional skill development. From its base at West 7th Community Center, the program serves 150 low-income children and youth in grades K-10 each year. Most enroll year-round for a total of 925 hours per year of high-quality out-of-school time programs — almost as much as the 1,290 hours they spend in school.

Academic components include Extended Day Learning math and reading classes with licensed teachers two days a week, daily homework help, daily independent reading, literacy tutoring, and mentoring from an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow who uses the University of Minnesota’s Check & Connect model to help older youth manage their schoolwork and plan for post-secondary opportunities.

All students participate in weekly evidence-based character education and violence prevention curricula that sequentially build social-emotional skills. A Youth Advisory Council engages youth in leadership roles. Community Kids also offers a wide variety of enrichment activities, including nutrition and fitness, Junior Achievement, youth internships, service learning projects, high quality arts experiences with teaching artists and arts organizations, and a wealth of STEM offerings including FIRST Lego League competitive robotics teams. Community Kids’ students are drawn from more than 50 public, private and charter schools.Parents actively participate in an Advisory Council and meet with teachers for conferences a minimum of three times per year. Community Kids is well known for excellence and recently completed its participation in a multi-state, five-year study of effective afterschool interventions for middle-school youth with researchers from the University of Minnesota. Because of their participation in Community Kids, 150 St. Paul youth each year improve their academic proficiency, social-emotional skills, school engagement, college and career readiness, health and wellness, and positive connections to peers and adults.

A Parent’s Appreciation

Hello! My son and I have been involved with Keystone since 2016. My son is seven and a half years old. This is his third year attending the Community Kids after school program. When we immigrated to Minnesota from Ethiopia, I knew I needed an after-school program for my son. I do not have family nearby to help care for him after school or during the summer so I like that he can ride the bus to the community center after school and he will be safe until I can pick him up after work.

My son really likes going to Community Kids. He enjoys the swimming lessons and field trips. He is always learning and his English levels have greatly improved. I love that he gets to experience new things, learns how to get along with others, and his education has been supported by Community Kids.

Without Keystone, I would be very stressed. I would not have anywhere to go or anyone to help me take care of my son while I am working. I would not have had the assistance I needed to get the education required to get the job I currently have, so I would not be making enough money to support myself and my son. The Community Kids program means so much to me and my son. You are all a blessing to me.

A Student’s Experience

Hi, I am writing this to tell how I feel about Community Kids. I have been going there since first grade and now I’m in eighth. Over the years Community Kids has done a lot for me. They have taught me empathy. Empathy is when you are in someone’s shoes metaphorically. It basically means to understand the feelings of someone.

Community Kids also helped improve my reading skills when I was younger. Tutors would come in and read with students for as long as we needed and helped us with homework. During each season, we would take a reading test to see how far we grew over the months and based on results they would help us improve our skills.

If you could have the chance to come to Community Kids I would recommend it 100%. They provide fun activities and field trips for students to attend. Community Kids is a good place for students to attend and feel safe with caring staff and a good education source for students.

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