1077 Remsen Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11236
Schools Out NYC
1077 Remsen Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11236
CAMBA’s Schools Out NYC is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.
Who is served: K–8 students from low-income communities in Brooklyn. Majority are living in poverty; more than half are immigrants or refugees.
Number of participants: 1,988 (not including Beacon/Cornerstone centers)
Location: 2 Middle Schools: SONYC at Huddel, SONYC at Whitman M.S. 72. 9 Elementary Schools: CAMBA All-Stars at P.S. 114, CAMBA Creative Kids at P.S. 139, CAMBA Elite at P.S. 3, CAMBA Kids Connection at P.S. 249, CAMBA Kids Shine at P.S. 361, CAMBA Kids Unite at P.S. 170, CAMBA Kids Unlimited at P.S. 92, CAMBA Kids World at P.S. 269, STARS Drug Prevention at P.S. 249. 1 homeless shelter: SONYC at Flagstone Family Center. 4 Beacon community centers and 4 Cornerstones (rec centers in NYCHA developments run by CBOs; STEM/after-school work in these facilities is similar, but not at the regularity/scale of K–8 school programs)
Frequency/Duration: After-school every weekday for 3 hours per day, including holidays. Summer program for 7 weeks, 10 hours per day.
Eligibility Criteria: None, other than being enrolled at the school where the program is being offered. However, there’s not enough space for every student in a school; priority is given to past participants and their siblings.
Curriculum: CAMBA provides STEM activities as part of its after-school and summer educational programs for elementary and middle school students in Brooklyn. Across school sites, CAMBA delivers STEM education in 4 ways: through purchased curriculum, such as After-School Science PLUS, an inquiry-based curriculum that uses hands-on activities to teach physical science; subcontracts with STEM-focused organizations such as Digital Girl, Beam Center and KoKo; a partnership with ExpandEd Schools Pathways: Computer Science, which trains CUNY students to teach CS to upper-elementary and middle school students; and inquiry-based field trips year-round to the New York Hall of Science and American Museum of Natural History, for example.
CAMBA takes a similar approach at Beacon and Cornerstone Community Centers, including through partnering with NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering to bring a lab-based program called Creativity in Engineering, Science and Technology (CrEST) to Beacon sites during K–5 summer camps.
Outcomes: Students participating in Beacon/Cornerstone programs have been hired to lead those programs.
Partnerships: Colleges/universities including NYU, CUNY; DYCD, which leads COMPASS and SONYC; nonprofit STEM orgs such as Beam Center, Digital Girl, City Science, KoKo, ExpandEd (subject to change annually).
Sources of funding: Mixed
What makes the program stand out? CAMBA reaches some of the Brooklyn neighborhoods most in need of STEM/technology-skills training. The organization’s after-school programs also serve more students than small nonprofits are usually capable of reaching. CAMBA’s reach alone is noteworthy, as are its year-round offerings and efforts to partner with nonprofit providers of STEM programming such as Beam Center and City Science. While computational thinking is not necessarily an overriding focus of CAMBA’s STEM programming, senior vice president of education & youth development Christie Hodgkins strives for programs to foster critical thinking around STEM subjects; even summer field trips to the American Museum of Natural History, Governor’s Island, and the Battery Urban Farm, for example, are inquiry-based.
What do participants need to succeed? More consistent programming and instructor expertise in STEM across K–5 and 6–8 after-school programs. It would also help if students’ families knew further in advance if camps will be offered and where (CAMBA is regulated by DOH, which has to inspect/license every DOE school where camps might be held.)
What does the organization need? Daily after-school programs are funded in part through the DYCD’s COMPASS and SONYC program models. While SONYC programs, aimed at middle school students, are “funded at a level to hire specialists in STEM as well as subcontractors, COMPASS Elementary programs are not,” said Hodgkins. CAMBA tries to fund subcontracts for COMPASS programs through accruals in other areas, but that’s an unpredictable, year-to-year method. “It concerns me because [programming is] not consistent across our elementary school sites,” Hodgkins said. The model “has to be funded at a higher level to support this level of quality” expected by DYCD.
And like many nonprofit organizations trying to deliver hands-on STEM experiences, CAMBA has minimal office space. In schools, CAMBA often shares space with other programs and the PTA, which poses security issues, according to Hodgkins. “Even if we had the expertise and the money, we’d still have a storage problem,” she said.