50-plus ways you can help 6 Dayton schools, thousands of students

Dayton Public Schools has six neighborhood school centers designed to serve as resources for students and their community with additional educational and social support. The services they offer are predominantly supported by volunteers, business and nonprofits.

The goal of these centers is to close the achievement gap experienced by low-income and under-served students by encouraging school attendance (kids can only take part in a program if they come to school), improving discipline and supporting academics.

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As part of our Path Forward initiative, the Dayton Daily News contacted the site coordinators for all six schools and asked how the community could most help them meet their mission.

Needs vary by school, though site coordinators for several neighborhood schools mentioned needing volunteers to mentor students. They particularly need male mentors — and especially men of color.

“The power of one mentor, the research has shown, has changed the trajectory of kids’ lives, and that is (based on) research,” said Ruskin site coordinator Emily Gray.

“If (students’) lives are completely and utterly chaos, that they can depend on the same person coming every single Thursday to care about them for one hour at 1 o’clock is the one thing that can literally, actually make them think, ‘Wait a second it’s worth it, I can try. I can do this.’”

Several mentioned needing volunteers who can be trained to help students with reading. Some could use donated items such as toiletries, books and non-perishable food items to send home with children. All of them said they need more mental health resources.

“We would really like to create some partnerships that would help out with mentoring students socially and emotionally,” said Andrew Diamond, site coordinator at Edison Elementary. “Reading help, math help and (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) are also areas we are desperately looking for resources.”

The programs they offer also serve the children’s families and communities.

“We are currently looking for an extreme couponer to help explain the process so that we can share those benefits with our community,” Diamond said.

Cleveland Elementary runs a community garden and garden club for students. “Our Master Gardener volunteer is moving away and I know absolutely nothing about gardens, so any resources that could help me keep the garden up and running would be greatly appreciated,” Site Coordinator Megan Sullivan said.

Below is a list of DPS neighborhood school centers, some of the programs each offers and an estimate of the number of people served. Anyone interested in supporting any of these programs or proposing a partnership can contact the listed site coordinator.

DPS offers mentoring, tutoring and other programs in all 27 of its schools. If you are interested in volunteering or partnering with another Dayton school, contact the school district directly.

Edison Elementary

Program partner: Greater Dayton YMCA

Site coordinator: Andrew Diamond, adiamond@daytonymca.org

Backpack Friday (110 students): Reduces the need for food for families over the weekend by sending home items with children.

Basketball camp (30 students): Encourages active living and the importance of attendance at school daily.

Boys Against Bullying (50 students): Gives peers the chance to talk through bullying experiences and develop resistance to negative peer pressure.

Dancing Divas (25 students): Empowers kids through dancing by teaching discipline and consistency through dance moves and appropriate music.

Edison Cafe (40 students): Students may redeem points earned by promoting a positive school climate for special treats, such as smoothies, frappes and snacks.

Girl Scouts (15 students): Builds girls of courage, confidence and character.

Taylor's Giving Tree (200 participants): At Christmastime a sponsor donates more than 500 toys for pre-kindergarten through third grades so each student can open a gift as if it was Christmas Day.

Young Entrepreneurs (27 participants): Teaches students how to use resources available to create a profitable and sustainable small business.

Fairview Elementary

Program partner: Omega Community Development Corp.

Ste coordinator: Dion Sampson, ddsampso@daytonpublic.com

A Few Good Men Listening Group (10 participants): Provides mentoring.

Fairview United Methodist Church (15-30 participants): Offers Classroom Volunteers Adopt-A-Classroom program.

Freedom School (40 participants): Summer program serves students of Fairview and builds love of reading and literacy.

Girl Scouts of Western Ohio (About 250 participants): Builds girls of courage, confidence and character.

Kids Hope USA Mentoring (15 participants): Offers mentoring.

Project Warmth (50 participants): Provides coats, boots and gloves to under-served students.

Scholars of Hope After School Program (70 participants): Provides additional hours of math, English language arts and enrichment activities.

Second Step (30-60 participants): Offers social and emotional programming for students.

Shoes for the Shoeless (450 participants): Provides free shoes for students.

YMCA Youth and Government (5-10 students): Training young people in public service leadership.

5/3 Bank Young Bankers (20 students): Offers financial literacy education.

Cleveland Elementary

Program sponsor: YMCA of Greater Dayton

Site coordinator: Megan Sullivan, msullivan@daytonymca.org

After-school program (50 students): Provides educational programming and enrichment.

Backpack Fridays (80 students): Provides food to children in need to take home over the weekend.

Chess Club (10 students): Teaches basic chess skills and children participate in a tournament.

Garden Club (50 students): Teaches children the basics of gardening and about different environments and ecosystems.

Math Club (10 participants): Prepares fourth through sixth grade students to be proficient at math skills at each grade level.

Project MORE (30 students): Helps students who struggle with building fluent reading skills

Kiser Elementary

Program sponsor: Dayton Children’s Hospital

Site coordinator: Donna McCoy, mccoyd@childrensdayton.org

Band (20 students): Students learn instruments with the goal of building musical abilities, increasing discipline and improving academic performance and attendance.

Basketball (10 students): Provides fitness and athletic opportunities to promote teamwork, and assist with discipline, attendance and achievement.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters (27 students): Increases developmental assets through mentoring with a caring adult.

Christmas at Kiser (75 students): Volunteer opportunities for University of Dayton students to work with Kiser students.

Christmas at UD: Exposes first and second graders to the University of Dayton and provides them with the experience of being on a college campus.

Families Night (375 participants): Families participate in educational and fun activities that support the academic achievement, attendance and positive parenting of children.

Girl Scouts (57 students): Provides activities that support empowerment for female students.

Good News Club (17 students): Offers faith-based outreach to students to discuss spiritual issues.

Mentoring Day and Afternoon (117 students): Mentoring program for youth.

Project Read (22 students): Build reading skills through activities and offers tutoring for students.

Science Night (375 students): Offers STEM activities to students and families.

STEM/Literacy (33 students): increases academic achievement through hands-on STEM activities and reading activities.

Trunk or Treat (500+ participants): Brings children and families together to celebrate Halloween in a fun, safe way.

Walk the Neighborhood (35 participants): Builds community relationships and helps identify family needs.

Ruskin Elementary

Program sponsor: East End Community Services

Site Coordinator: Emily Gray, ebgray@daytonpublic.com

Big Brothers/Big Sisters (20 students): Pairs trained adult mentors with students to meet once a week at the school for a year.

College Mentors for Kids (40 students): Pairs trained college mentors with students in third through sixth grades to meet once a week on the University of Dayton campus for a year.

Family Night (137 participants): Fun and educational monthly activities designed to reinforce learning for children, provide information about resources and build parenting skills.

Family Service Association (20 students): Offers family therapy to students and parents.

Foodbank Weekend Bags (125 students): Non-perishable food goes home every Friday for students and their families.

Kids Life Miami Valley (8 students): Matches trained adult mentors with fifth and sixth graders.

Miracle Makers Afterschool Program (200 students): Provides remediation and enrichment in a trauma-informed program focusing on the whole child.

Muse Machine Artist Residency (150 students): A Muse Machine artist works with students in classrooms during the school day on performing arts.

Project MORE (12 students): Reading tutoring program to help kids meet or exceed the third grade reading guarantee.

Q the Music (60 students): A tuition-free after school music education program provided by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Westwood Elementary

Program sponsor: Wesley Community Center

Site coordinator: John Terrell, jwterrel@daytonpublic.com

Afterschool program (50 to 70 students): Afterschool programming.

Baby Ready Program: A baby shower for pregnant women living in the Westwood area and connection to prenatal medical and support services.

Community garden (Entire neighborhood): Partners including Homefull operate a community vegetable garden tending by youth and adults in the spring, summer and fall.

Food Assistance (Entire school): Food pantry program for area families.

Leaderships for Equality and Action in Dayton (20 students): Provides tutoring to build academic skills and includes community organizing effort to improve preschool outcomes.

Parent and family supports (Entire neighborhood): Family supports such as social service case management, job readiness training, a culinary arts vocational program and adult basic education.

Summer Freedom School (50 students): Summer program for students with a focus on building a love of reading and increasing literacy.

Wright State University partnership (School-wide): Wright State provides students to assist Westwood students through tutoring and other supports as part of service-learning.

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