The Children’s After School Achievement (CASA) program at Hope College has recently received two grants in support of its summer and school-year sessions for elementary-age students.

This year’s six-week summer program, which will focus on developing writing skills across a range of activities, will begin on Wednesday, June 18, and continue through Tuesday, July 29.  The next school-year program will begin in September and continue through April.

The Coach Foundation of New York City has awarded CASA a grant that will support both sessions.  The Junior Welfare League of Holland is providing support for Parents’ Day activities this summer.

The Coach Foundation award is a $10,000 grant that resulted from a nomination by 2011 Hope graduate Katelyn Rumsey, who was a volunteer tutor with CASA as a student.  The foundation emphasizes organizations that empower, educate and support women and children around the world, and it invites employees of Coach (Rumsey is a senior planner within the Global Merchandise Planning team) to nominate causes whose missions align with its own.

“External grants make a tremendous difference in helping CASA to work with the children,” said Fonda Green, executive director of CASA.  “We’re grateful to the Junior Welfare League of Holland for the support that it has provided to CASA not only this year but in previous years, and appreciate the first-time grant from the Coach Foundation.  It’s especially meaningful to have been nominated by a former tutor who valued CASA so much that she felt the program deserving of the award.”

CASA, a community program of Hope College, provides academic and cultural enrichment for at-risk first- through fifth-grade students. The program, which runs year-round, is intended to improve the students’ academic performance by providing the tools they need to succeed in school.

During the school year, the students meet after school twice per week in one-on-one sessions with volunteer tutors, most of whom are Hope students.  During the summer session, CASA runs five classes, each led by a certified teacher and assistant four mornings a week, providing a mixture of academic work as well as enrichment programs.

Featuring the theme “Write.  Right!,” this year’s summer program will emphasize a variety of types of writing:  personal notes including email; creative writing including poetry and haiku; factual writing reporting on science activities; descriptive writing based on classroom field trips; opinion; and an autobiographical journal which the students will also illustrate.

In addition to class time, the summer program will include visits to Herrick District Library, the Holland Area Arts Council and the college’s Biology Museum; a presentation by the Saugatuck Chamber Festival and a play by the Children’s Performance Troupe of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre; and participating in science exploration at Hope for a week.  Further, on “Thrilling Thursdays” the students get to choose from among teacher-led workshops like “Magical Musical Class” (choosing an instrument to play), “Backyard Games,” “Becoming Global Citizens Through Sports” (emphasizing the 2014 World Cup), “Puppet Making Workshop” and “Who Am I?,” creating a self-portrait.

During the Parents’ Day, which will be underwritten by $800 in support from the Junior Welfare League of Holland, the students and their parents will work on projects together and attend a mathematics-themed assembly featuring Maciek the Magician, who was a favorite during the program’s 25-year celebration in 2012.  Each family will also receive a book to take home.

CASA was established in 1987 by Marge Rivera Bermann and Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and originally housed at First United Methodist Church. CASA moved to Hope College in 1989, and has its offices and summer classes in Graves Hall and its school-year activities in classrooms in Lubbers Hall.

The academic-year and summer programs serve Holland and West Ottawa students.  A total of 145 elementary-age students participated in CASA during the 2012-13 year.