The Door

My previous post gave an overview of two community centers that cater to at-risk youth, the Next Generation Center and the Academy. I really should have also mentioned The Door, which has welcomed New York City’s youth (ages of 12 to 21) to take advantage of its comprehensive services since 1972. They offer everything from academic help to legal services and health care, as well as recreational activities and counseling. You do not have to be classified as “at-risk” to become a member, though they do offer services designed specifically for youth who are in foster care or are homeless.

College access is one of the bigger concerns there. They run a competitive program called Talent Search, which offers individualized counseling and support to promising students. Aside from helping them graduate from high school or earn their GED, the Door also helps with test prep and college selection, and furthermore aims to equip their members with the financial, academic, and emotional resources they will need to succeed in college.

I first heard about the Door from Rachael Metz, the caseworker I work with at New Alternatives for Children. She mentioned it as a terrific resource where I could hold my programs. Lynne Echenberg agreed, adding that I might try her contacts at the Door, especially since they’ve since opened up a supportive housing program and brand new charter school for at-risk youth.

The Broome Street Academy boasts four features intended to give their students the best educational outcomes: 1) membership at The Door, 2) personal advising from day one, 3) an extended school day and academic year, and 4) high standards for everyone. I am on board with each of these points. I’m especially excited about how they are allocating more time toward learning because the nine-month academic year just makes no sense to me. Sure, I have wonderful memories of summer breaks, but I also remember how difficult it was to get back into the swing of things in the fall, trying to remember what it was I had just learned the year before. And as a teacher, the school year just felt like two long 800 meter dashes (my least favorite track event), where everyone inevitably ends up limping toward the finish line.

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