Marco is a typical, energetic nine-year-old from the suburbs of New Jersey. He has very definite opinions on the current crop of super heroes and he loves to play soccer. But unlike many kids his age, Marco’s favorite after school activity is, well, going back to school. Marco is one of 22 children enrolled in Success for All, an after school program hosted by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown.
“I love coming here,” explains Marco, a fourth grader who has been coming to Success for All for the last two years. “We get great snacks, teachers help us with school, there are other kids and games AND we get to go outside almost every day and play soccer!”
Marco’s lives at home in Morristown with his parents and two sisters and attends public schools. As is the case for nearly all the children in SFA, both of his parents work outside the home. Though English speakers might not guess it in meeting him, Marco’s first language is actually Spanish. Assistant Director Vivian De Los Santos explains that these two challenges, faced by many families in the area, are key issues SFA seeks to address. “Parents in many households each need to be at their workplace until the close of business each day—around 5:30 or 6 pm. We welcome the kids right from the school bus and provide care until their parents come at the end of the day,” she says. “We also provide tutoring in English and work closely with the public schools to individualize the help we provide each student. Many students speak English very well but need assistance with reading.”
Success for All began four years ago as an expansion of a summer camp program at the church. De Los Santos, a seasoned educator with fifteen years of teaching experience at many levels, told of how the program really took off, going from 11 to 22 students in four years. Grateful for the help the Alleluia Fund provided in 2015, she hopes in the future the school can be expanded. “We actually have the space here at St. Peter’s, but we would need more funding for staff.”
Besides a safe environment for their kids where they can play, learn, and receive the tutoring they need to succeed in school, SFA offers working parents sliding scale fees that range from $20 to $50 weekly per child, an amount nearly every family can find manageable. The after school program also received New Jersey state certification and is approved for the state’s voucher program which, in some cases, can cover the entire cost of tuition.
Marco and other kids and teachers at the Success For All after school program are as fine an example as could possibly be found of the amazing difference the Alleluia Fund is making in our diocese and our world.