1 – PROGRAM EXPERTISE: SGHY does not run programs. We develop program ideas, in conjunction with our partner schools,  and then identify and engage the City’s best, top-caliber program providers and camps in their respective fields. This brings a uniquely high level of expertise and expert instruction to the children we serve (as opposed to the common model where the same organization provides a range of programs).* SGHY negotiates generous discounts with all program providers and camps.

2 – SCHOOL  FACULTY COLLABORATION: SGHY uniquely involves school faculty, teachers, administrators, or paraprofessionals, in all SGHY programs. We create collaborations between the expert providers and teachers who know their students to conduct all SGHY activities and camps. This ensures the communication and cooperation between the school and the program or camp to best meet individual student needs and provide needed encouragement and support to students. (Other programs do not involve school faculty and maintain minimal contact with host schools.) Schools select the students for all SGHY programs on the basis of who will benefit most.  SGHY compensates school faculty  in accordance with union collective bargaining agreements.

3- UNIVERSITY AFFILIATION: SGHY engages Columbia University, and we expect, soon, Hunter College, in SGHY programs. University students and professors conduct programs and clinics in our partner schools and welcome our middle school students to campus for complementary activities.  This provides role models and college inspiration to our middle school students;

4- VARIETY: SGHY offers an unusual variety of healthy school-year programs and activities in sports, dance, hands-on science, outdoor nature, cultural exchange, and music and drama. This includes enhanced tried-and-true activities so middle school students can build on interests and skills, perhaps leading to college scholarships or careers. It also includes new activities to expand student horizons. SGHY intentionally offers a wide variety of programs so that every student can find enrichment activities to enjoy and explore as they grow and develop.  

5 – SUMMER CAMP: SGHY offers students whose families cannot afford tuition the opportunity to attend top-quality sleep-away or day camps. School faculty accompany students to camp, to supplement the nurturing, outstanding camp staff. Camp offers our students their only time away from concrete neighborhoods, their first times swimming in a lake, holding a frog, beholding a nighttime sky full of stars. SGHY supplements the camp program with our astronomy program, providing telescopes, model rockets, and space science counselors to enable our middle school campers to explore the cosmos. Our camp program combats the well documented “summer slide” phenomenon in which low-income youth left unengaged for summer vacation suffer social and intellectual setbacks. The NYC Department of Education recently underscored the following: “Studies show that summer learning benefits include closing the achievement gap and combating summer slide. Summer enrichment opportunities have positive effects on social behavior, self-perception and can reduce risky behavior.” Teachers at SGHY partner schools report that SGHY’s summer camp program does just that. 

6- VALUES & THE VALUE OF NATURE:  All SGHY activities, in addition to their particular skill sets, promote the life skills of self-esteem and self-confidence; teamwork and tolerance; self-responsibility and individual initiative; perseverance and sportsmanship; college inspiration and grand dreams. Our Outdoor Nature and Environmental Science programs enable our urban youth to directly experience nature in the great outdoors. When we asked a group of 50 South Bronx eighth graders how many had ever hiked in the woods before, only five raised their hands. Sophie Gerson believed, as we do, that nature belongs to every child and that experiencing nature benefits any child.    

7 – TOTALLY FREE: SGHY, with your support, provides these activities totally free-of-charge to children and families. This SGHY covering transportation, meals, snacks, canteen allowances, proper attire and supplies as needed. When some of our families could not afford to provide their children with basic camp attire like bathing suits or sneakers, SGHY discreetly provided that. When one child who really wanted to join our swimming program required prescription goggles, SGHY provided that. We take to heart our commitment that income will not hinder access to any SGHY activity for any child. 

8 – Middle School: SGHY partners exclusively with NYC public middle schools, grades 6, 7, and 8  (some programs with K – 8 schools admit 5th graders; camp enrolls rising ninth graders.)  Sophie Gerson taught what was then called Junior High School for 36 years. Middle school provides the time when children begin to formulate life habits and dreams, and take the first steps on their lasting paths in life. Educators and the NYC Department of Education have identified these grades as critical crossroads  in a young person’s life, requiring enhanced resources. SGHY answers this call. 

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