Flushing HS program receives funding grant

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott (second from l.) speaks at a ceremony at Flushing HS. Photo courtesy SASF
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An after-school program designed to reduce the chances a Flushing High School freshman will fail recently got a $300,000 shot in the arm thanks to a global communications provider, city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced last week.

The 9th Grade Academy is run by a Queens-based nonprofit and provides after-school services to incoming freshmen at risk of failing classes and not advancing to the next grade. Last year, about 85 percent of freshmen who participated for at least 30 days reached 10th-grade. For the rest of the school, that number was 41 percent.

“It is critical that our students receive support to help prepare them for college and a career,” Walcott said, referring to the program run by the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation.

The program works with 100 students at the high school, at 35-01 Union St., and provides them with homework help, extra curricular activities and character-building exercises.

The program was started in the 2011-12 school year, but now they will have the monetary fuel to keep going, according to Walcott.

The $300,000 grant was doled out by AT&T and will fund the program for the next two years.

“This grant provides major academic assistance during the after-school hours for the students of Flushing HS,” said Jim O’Neill, president of the foundation.

AT&T dished out the cash as part of a philanthropic fund in the hundreds of millions of dollars that it uses to promote educational programs across the country.

“AT&T is proud to support a program that not only seeks to ensure that each and every student graduates on time, but ensures that they graduate with the skills and knowledge to succeed in college and careers,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president of the conglomerate’s New York arm.

She announced the grant alongside Walcott and other Queens lawmakers at the school Sept. 19.

And in addition to the program’s success at Flushing HS, other operations under O’Neill boasted citywide success rates as well.

Last year 98 percent of 12th-graders in the program across the city graduated from high school in four years, while the citywide rate was 61 percent, according to the foundation. And during the same time period, 88 percent of high school seniors in the program were accepted to college, according to the foundation.

In total, the foundation serves more than 25,000 students in more than 150 public schools annually.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 5:27 pm, September 26, 2012
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