Thursday, September 18, 2014

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City After School Program Undergoes Expansion, Rebranding

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The city is rebranding its middle school after school program, but the change comes with a lot more than just a new name. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Movie-making, the art of the monologue, flag football, cooking and then eating—at Manhattan Youth summer and after school programs, middle school students are in charge of what they want to do, and they're free to change their minds everyday.

"I tried basketball and I ended up doing it all three years and then I thought of trying something a little different in eighth grade so I went for theater and it has been a blast, honestly," says student Julietta Cozza-Cordero.

"We always have, for every age group, something artistic, something athletic, and something quirky," says Manhattan Youth Director of After School Programs Theseus Rosche.

It's a formula, he says, that gets kids in the door—and keeps them coming back.

Now, as the city expands after school to serve every middle school student, it's a formula officials hope to replicate citywide.

Step one: renaming and rebranding the program, which until now was called Out of School Time, or OST.

"OST was a little bit antiseptic and kids didn't really know what it meant," Rosche says.

Even with the re-branding, officials tried to involve the students, and a renaming contest drew more than 400 entries.

The winner? Schools Out NYC, or SONYC, for the middle school programs, and COMPASS, for the overall, comprehensive after school system.

"I love SONYC so much," says student Chloe White.

I think that's awesome. It's sounds like space," says student Madeline Atwood.

Expect to see new names and logos all over in August, when the city launches a $90,000 marketing campaign.

Just like with universal pre-k, the city's after school expansion has had a very tight timeline. This means it has been—and will continue to be—a busy summer for everyone involved.

"Helping them to find program directors, teaching artists and coaches. We did that in collaboration with CUNY. My team is working on getting the money flowing," says Assistant Commissioner at the Department of Youth and Community Development Denice Williams.

By September 8, they plan to have 271 new programs up and running—with activities five days a week, three hours each day—in schools all over the city.

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