Proyecto Pastoral is one of 26 youth development organizations across the country that will share $1.35 million in funds from the New York Life Foundation‘s “Aim High” program, it was announced this week.

The Boyle Heights community led group, based at Dolores Mission church, will use its two-year, $100,000 grant to support its after-school and summer programming at various Boyle Heights midle-schools.

The grant will help the organization expand Proyecto Pastoral’s IMPACTO youth development program for middle-school children, and the community collaborative Promesa Boyle Heights‘ summer bridge programming, which supports students at three local schools transitioning to the 9th grade.

The group said it will use the funding to train staff in order to launch a “socio-emotional” learning curriculum.

“By building the capacity of staff to integrate socio-emotional learning into classrooms and enhancing our programming with socio-emotional learning content, middle school youth will learn how to effectively connect with others,  practice self-awareness, and think critically to support their successful transition to high school”, said Cynthia Sánchez, Proyecto Pastoral’s Executive Director. 

The New York Life Foundation’s “Aim High” program in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance is part of the organization’s ongoing investment in programs supporting underserved 8th graders to reach 9th grade on time, an effort both organizations say is especially important now because of the pandemic.

“Students and families are facing immense hardships as a result of COVID-19 and they need additional academic and social emotional support now more than ever,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer, New York Life Foundation. “Middle school students benefit greatly from the support and engaging opportunities provided by after-school and summer programs, so it’s critical that these programs have the funding and flexibility to continue this important work.”  

This year’s grant marks the fourth year of awards made under the Foundation’s Aim High education initiative, bringing the total awarded under the program to $4.8 million.

According to the group, under-resourced students need additional learning time through after-school and summer programs to achieve greater academic success, attendance and engagement in classes. Data from the Afterschool Alliance found that 75% of after-school programs are at risk of closing or laying off staff due to funding lost during the pandemic.





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