Afterschool Programs That Get It Right: Golden Opportunity

By Leah Levy | Edudemic | August 25, 2015

Founded in 2005 in Ithaca, NY by veteran educator, Marty Kaminsky, the organization Golden Opportunity pairs experienced retired teachers with students in grades 2 through 8 for mentoring and tutoring. Tutors meet with students for 2 hours each week for 30 weeks per year to work one-on-one. Unlike most similar programs, student and tutor pairs stay together year after year, to foster deep relationships. In fact, the average time spent together is four years.

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. Students benefit from specialized academic attention, and more generally from feeling like there is an adult in their lives who believes in them and to whom they can turn in times of need.

“Every child deserves a chance to succeed,” says the organization’s founder, Marty Kaminsky. “Who is to say where that genius violinist, jazz drummer, brain scientist, computer scientist, or the next president of the United States resides? Just because a child is born into an impoverished family, does not mean that or she does not deserve the same opportunities of a child born into a middle or upper middle class family.”

Tutors receive curriculum training throughout the year in math, reading, and writing to keep them up to date with the latest educational trends. For their part, the retired teacher tutors thrill in getting to teach in that intensive manner that is so often an impossibility in the classroom. Finally, they can customize their approach and experiment with different strategies without keeping their eye on the clock or rotating to another set of students who urgently needs them, too.

In the ten years since the organization’s founding, numerous students have graduated the program and gone on to do well in high school, especially compared to cohorts who do not participate in the program. As such, Golden Opportunity offers confirmation of the academic research, which indicates that a student’s environment and the amount of support he or she receives is crucial in achieving success.

This article is adapted from a story that originally appeared on Edudemic in August 2015. You can access the full, original article—The Unique Power of Afterschool Learning—here