Doing Better at School through Basketball: Saturday Night Lights at Henry Street Settlement

Posted in: Blog

Posted on February 19, 2016

Henry Street Settlement is a proud recipient of Criminal Justice Initiative funds, administered by the Office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. Through a CJII grant for Saturday Night Lights, Henry Street Settlement is able to provide recreational activities for youth ages 12 to 19 and also connect them to critical social and academic services at our two youth centers on the Lower East Side.

Because the grant allows us to offer such a high quality sports program—Friday Night Drill and Play basketball clinics are led by professional coaches, tournaments have professional referees and great trophies, and the Facebook buzz has made many players into social media celebrities—youth are clamoring to participate. And while our typical young person involved in sports activities is averse to receiving counseling or tutoring, we require youth to engage with both our tutoring and social work staff as a prerequisite for open gym, clinics, and tournament play.

One such success is Norqui, who has participated in our program for years. Norqui excels in basketball, but struggled academically. There were even concerns of having him repeat eighth grade last year. With the help of the entire team, countless school meetings, and social work support, Norqui was able to move on to high school. Now in ninth grade, Norqui’s struggles are being addressed. With tutoring two nights a week, Norqui works to stay on top of his academics.

In all, more than 300 young people have participated in our Saturday Night Lights program this fiscal year alone.

–Gregory Rideout, deputy program officer of education and employment services at Henry Street Settlement 

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