After-School Program at Casa Romero
Holy Cross Parish
For over 20 years, the Holy Cross After-School Program at Casa Romero has provided academic support and tutoring, nutrition education, mentoring, and a safe place to hang out for countless K–12 students in Chicago. This year-round, no-cost service addresses all of the central areas for healthy youth development: life skills, academic tutoring, mentoring, service learning, recreation, and parent involvement.
Lack of a quality education and inadequate access to resources needed for academic success—including tutoring outside of school and access to computers—are among the most serious contributors to poverty for many families. The need for a tutoring program like this one is very high in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. The average household here earns an annual income of only about $32,000, and 36% of residents live below the poverty line.
The After-School Program at Casa Romero utilizes a small group tutoring and mentoring model where 10 to 12 young people of a certain grade level work with the same trained, college-student mentor every day in a dedicated classroom. The groups spend about two of the three hours they have at the program each day on academics and tutoring. They are required to complete their homework before moving on to supplemental learning activities like journaling, reading groups, math exercises, and computer time.
Along with this academic time, students receive an hour per week of life skills instruction related to nutrition or social skills at Casa Romero. As part of this life skills training, group leaders perform an employability assessment on all of the students three times a year. These assessments are used by the leaders to create a life skills curriculum tailored to each group’s needs. An important goal of the After-School Program is to develop an environment where youth can grow into productive problem-solvers and community leaders.
The rest of the program time is used for recreation. During this time, students create craft projects and play sports and board games. The safety of Casa Romero lets young people spend time together and play without fear.