The Lake County high school dropout rate is the second highest in the state of Indiana. This statistic is what caused Alternatives, Lisa’s Safe Haven and Tag, Inc., three East Chicago nonprofits, to come together and implement a program designed to keep students in school.
The Bridging the Gap Program, or The Bridge, has several different components that address many issues faced by students today. One of the components of The Bridge is the after school program.
The program runs Monday – Friday for the duration of the school year. All students receive a meal provided by Lisa’s Safe Haven upon arrival at the program at 3:00. Then the middle school and high school students begin their homework. They are given access to computers and other resources as well as certified tutors, if needed.
When the elementary school students arrive, they sometimes do not have homework. When this happens, they receive tutoring in the STEM areas. The goal of this part of the program is to make students proficient in the STEM subjects so they do not fall behind and become a dropout risk in later years.
When the elementary students do have homework, they are often assisted by the older students in a big brother/big sister format. This helps the older students to develop a sense of purpose and meaning. When homework is completed, the elementary students engage in supervised recreational activities and go home around 5:30 pm.
When the older students have finished their work, they have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities from group and individual counseling to sports to Bible study. These students are dismissed around 8:00 pm.
All aspects of The Bridge’s after school program are designed to combat falling grades and attendance issues, which are two of the leading causes of dropping out of high school. For more information on The Bridge and its programs, visit foundationsec.org.