After School Program Helps Richmond Public Schools

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NextUp RVA, a three-year-old coordinated system of expanded learning for three Richmond middle schools, is seeing improved student performance.

The non-profit after school program began three years ago at Henderson Middle School and has since expanded to Boushall Middle School and Lucille Brown Middle School.

More than 360 students across the three schools participate in NextUp that operates five days a week after the school bell rings at 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

The students are offered a plethora of activities, dinner a snack and transportation home. It is no cost to the students or their families to get involved in this after school program.

Shatavia Vines, a student at Boushell Middle School, has attended the after school program since last year.

“I like after school because I like learning more things,” Vines said. “I do step this year, but last year, I had technology class, tech connect, cooking classes, edible education… I had dance class.”

NextUp RVA partners with more than 30 organizations in the region to offer students a variety of after school activities that also includes chess, computer skills, sports, and running.

Barbara Couto Sipe is the Executive Director for NextUp RVA.

“Robotics, dance class, art classes so kids can continue their learning,” Couto Sipe said. “Making sure kids have safe and productive things to do outside of school time is really important.”

Couto Sipe said the after-school program’s productivity is showing.

According to NextUp RVA, since the program’s inception, 60 percent of students improved or maintained positive school attendance, 84 percent of students improved or maintained positive behavior, and more than 60 percent of students improved a letter grade or maintained a C or higher in English and math.

The after school programs are free to students in these middle schools; NextUp RVA is always seeking help to remain funded to continue helping the students. They are operated out of The Community Foundation which means all donations are tax deductible. They receive grants through the city, private and public donations and grants.

Tuesday, November 29 is Giving Tuesday. Their campaign is Step Up for NextUp, and folks can make a donation on the organization’s Facebook page or on their website.

Couto Sipe said NextUp RVA wants to be in all eight Richmond middle schools by 2020.

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