Non-profit organizations are plentiful throughout Tompkins County, and make a big impact in our communities. Despite their contributions, area non-profits can sometimes go unnoticed or unknown. This week we are highlighting Golden Opportunity, a tutoring and mentorship non-profit based in Ithaca. To learn more about the organization, we interviewed its executive director, Kolby Harrell.
“I’m excited to work with GO, the ICSD and community members to let every student know that they matter and that all of us are deeply invested in their success. At the end of the day, I hope we can transform how kids feel about school and their community so they feel empowered to move forward with confidence.”
Like our drought-damaged gardens and trees that will require lots of extra attention next spring, many Ithaca children have started school with great disadvantages. While their ability to thrive lies within, conditions in their young lives often don’t support their academic growth. That’s where Golden Opportunity (GO), a tutoring program for struggling children, comes in to fill a gap that the school district cannot.
Golden Opportunity's founder, Marty Kaminsky, sits down with Lee Rayburn of Morning Newswatch to look back at how it all began and how GO has made a real difference in local students' lives.
This interview originally aired on WHCU radio (95.9fm/870am) on January 29, 2016. You can access the original interview online here.
The organization was founded with a mission to provide low-income students with the kind of in-depth, individualized attention and advocacy they require to empower them in every aspect of their lives. Tutors and students often form tight bonds, with tutors often volunteering outside of the program to attend student performances and parent-teacher meetings when the parent cannot, so that the student always have a consistent advocate.
In August 2005, Marty’s father passed away. To honor him, Marty approached the principals of the two schools in which he had served. Marty offered them a stipend to pay for two children in each of their schools to have tutoring for one year. He promised the two principals that he would use that school year to develop a tutoring program. When the one-year mark arrived, Marty returned to the two schools. He asked if the tutoring made a difference, and the answer was a resounding “yes.”
At his first elementary school teaching position, Marty Kaminsky was paid $35 and seven yogurt cups a week, and he couldn't have been happier. "It's never been about the money for me," he says. "All I've ever wanted to do was change the world one child at a time."
Retired school teachers, school officials and community members alike are coming together to tutor students in four Ithaca area schools who need a little extra help in their academics.
The Golden Opportunity program is a not-for-profit tutoring program that offers 60 hours a year of direct one-on-one time to students who need extra help with their school work.
It's a precarious time for students, especially New York's at-risk population. With a cut of $1.3 billion in state education aid, about 11,000 K-12 education positions, including teachers, teaching assistants and support staff, have been lost statewide this year. The cuts are making efforts to close the achievement gap that much harder.