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New Settlement Apartments is a not-for-profit housing and community service organization located in an under-served area of the southwest Bronx. The organization has a 20-year track record of active commitment to neighborhood revitalization and community development, including working towards excellence in community public schools.
Mariah comes to the Edgies center almost every day. The Center rewards students with the best attendance; Mariah is slated to receive an award this year. “I like it a lot. The Center gives me something to do so I stay out of trouble and don’t get bored.”
At the center, Mariah is able to do homework, talk to the staff about any problems she is having, and socialize with the other 80-100 teens who attend the program daily. The Center also offers a wide variety of activities, including dance, cooking, art, and theater classes and open-mike sessions called “girl talk” and “boy talk” for girls and boys respectively. Mariah described the value of these exercises: “During spoken work sessions, we are able to discuss serious issues in a private, comfortable setting. Nothing leaves the room – that is very important.”
Mariah is very active in the intergenerational dance troupe and the youth leadership council at Educational Alliance. The leadership council raises money for various events, such as the annual Valentine’s Day Dance, and charitable causes, and it organizes community service days. The group recently raised enough money for the six participants to go on a leadership retreat together.
In addition to these activities, Mariah attends SAT preparation classes at Educational Alliance every Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. “I get almost all of my college counseling and preparation here. I don’t know what I would do without it,” Mariah explained. “The Edgies Center and other programs at Educational Alliance put a real emphasis on college and making a future for yourself,” she continued. “They create incentives for you to do well and participate; for example, they post high school honor rolls and take honors students on trips. I have gone on trips to ice skating rinks and movies – lots of fun things.” Mariah also described the annual spring college trip that Educational Alliance organizes for its students. “I liked a lot of the schools and definitely want to go to college,” she declared.
Mariah largely credits after school programs for her success thus far. “After school has always been central to my education and social life. I have met some of my closest friends at Edgies, and the staff members are wonderful role models and advisors. After school is a very important addition to high school, and I am very grateful for all the opportunities I have had through it.”