Young Scholars Program University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Children from diverse populations and lowincome families frequently experience inadequate readiness for school. Many of these children come from homes where parents neither have the skills to prepare them for school nor to help them succeed once they are there. It is no wonder, then, that an increased number of these 17-year-olds experience difficulties in such school subjects as reading, math, and science.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?
In 1996, Young Scholars Program was implemented in Monroe County, Arkansas, to reverse the negative academic trends of lowincome minority children and help them succeed in school. The program, now expanded to Lee County, promotes male responsibility and targets low-income minority children, ages 6-15, their families, and organizations/agencies that serve lowincome families. Special emphasis is placed on boys and their fathers/grandfathers and/or other male surrogates. Two Extension human sciences educators (paraprofessionals) provide leadership to the county program.
One hundred twenty-six children, referred to as Young Scholars, meet one hour per day, five days a week in a yearlong, after-school program. The program is conducted in public housing in Monroe and Lee counties. The facilities are furnished by the housing authorities in both counties at no cost to the program. The children are taught math and science concepts as they relate to areas of agriculture, nutrition, consumer education, clothing, textiles, housing, and home furnishings. Experiential activities are provided to aid the children in discovering, interpreting, analyzing, and disseminating knowledge. Children engage in learning experiences that strengthen character, build social skills, enhance the development of high self-esteem and successful resolution of conflict. Once the children reach age 16, they remain in the program as mentors for the younger children.
The program reaches the entire family. The parents or caregivers are organized into groups that meet once a week for one hour, and they must serve two hours per month as volunteers in the after-school program (111 parents and caregivers participated). The parental component includes the curriculum for the children as well as information on parenting, job-related skills, career and personal development, stress management and coping skills, family relationships, and economic self-sufficiency skills. …