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Times Union Hope Fund supports SPARC!

Times Union Hope Grant funds will be used to expand the Summer Program at the Rotterdam Club (SPARC) and to offer more scholarship opportunities for low income families. We would like to enroll 50 additional children and to increase the average daily attendance. This program currently serves an average of 75 children per day and we would like to expand to serving at least 100 youths per day. There is a critical need to expand the program and to offer more scholarships. Our Camp Lovejoy has a waiting list for all seven weeks of the program. With the majority of our members coming from economically disadvantaged circumstances they are unable to pay the $95 per week fee for SPARC. Although all participants receive a partial scholarship as the cost of the program is $150 per week per child this cost is still too high for many families wishing to send their children to SPARC.

The program offers many benefits to the youth we serve not only for the fun and engaging programs offered but it helps youth to combat the summer learning loss so many of our members experience. Unfortunately, most of the youth we serve are not achieving at an acceptable proficiency for their grade level. The educational enrichment offered at SPARC through the Summer Brain Gain which includes reading and English enrichment, academic games on the computer, reading club, weekly library trips, science enrichment, drama, team building activities and high yield learning games all help youth to build academic skills. Providing youth with daily physical activity is another important benefit of the program. Swim lessons teach important aquatic skills and water safety so important for all youth but particularly critical for African American children between the ages of 5 and 19 who are 2.6 times more likely to drown than whites. (Minority Aquatics International, 2011). The program offers learning opportunities in a fun and interactive way. SPARC offers diverse programming with each child having the opportunity to experience and enjoy a variety of activities promoting the arts, sciences, academic enrichment, technology, health and fitness and above all fun.

SPARC will enroll 50 additional youths over 2015 enrollment. SPARC will increase average daily attendance by 33% over 2015 average daily attendance. To enhance critical thinking and academic achievement SPARC will offer daily activities involving reading, science, technology, the arts, social-emotional learning, and team-building. To promote health and fitness each participant will engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

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