Holland Public Schools and Hope College to provide academic and cultural enrichment through mentor p


Hope College’s Children’s After School Achievement program has received a grant from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area to provide remote programming this fall.

The program, first established in 1987, provides “academic and cultural enrichment” for around 100 students first through fifth grade from Holland and West Ottawa. It is intended to improve student academic performance by providing students with the tools they need to succeed.

The $25,000 grant comes from CHFZ’s COVID-19 Community Stabilization Fund and will provide additional materials and Hope-student staffing for the program.

The programming will begin Tuesday, Sept. 8, and continue through Friday, Nov. 13.

“We’re grateful to the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area for its support,” stated Fonda Green, executive director of CASA. “We’re committed to helping the children succeed academically no matter what the format, and the funding from the foundation is enabling us to reimagine our approach and provide robust and engaging remote tutoring.”

Typically, students go to Hope’s campus twice a week after school to meet with volunteer tutors, most of whom are in Hope’s education psychology class. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings will now occur over various online meeting platforms.

To help volunteers make use of the online format, CASA will be hiring upper-level education students to mentor the tutors.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for both CASA and the students that we’ll be hiring,” Green said. “Our tutors and the children will benefit from their experience, and they in turn will be gaining additional experience that they will take with them into their careers as teachers.”

Holland Public Schools Superintendent Brian Davis said the program is valuable for both the elementary and college students involved.

“The program of CASA is unique in form and function in its pairing together of a college student at Hope, with an elementary student of Holland Public Schools, brought together on a college campus,” HPS Superintendent Brian Davis stated in an email to The Sentinel. “This special time focuses on building relationships, leadership development, social/emotional supports and academic progression.

“It is an opportunity to engage in an environment which fosters goal-setting and high expectations. Ongoing communication with the child’s teacher provides the feedback necessary to support growth in each of these areas. As with any mentoring program, my hunch is that the college students get just as much personal reward from this experience as do the HPS students.”

The Children’s After School Achievement program is part of a network of Hope College programs focused on enhancing student’s educational achievement, along with Step Up and Hope College TRIO Upward Bound. Each of the programs will be working with students remotely this fall.

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