Development Centers, Inc.
Detroit’s children are experiencing a deficit at the start of entering school. Almost 58% of Detroit’s children are living in poverty. Their socio-economic status negatively impacts their ability to be present and ready to learn. Poverty impacts school readiness in literacy causing a 30,000,000 word gap by the age of four and a 6,000 hour learning gap by 3rd grade. In 2017, 15% of Detroit third grade children were reading at grade level compared to 81% of third graders in Grosse Point reading at grade level. In the Detroit Public School Community District, 58% of the students are absent more than 10% of the days in the school year. Students aren’t able to learn if they aren’t present. This proposed project is the substance of our ongoing work, but an expansion of it. Our first official summer program was in 2007 with 29 youth. It quickly expanded the following years. Developing K.I.D.S. is unique because we don’t provide transportation, nor a court-ordered program, nor offer a fee or incentives to attend. However, we have an 85% retention rate of participants. They continue to age and grow through the program, opening up available spaces in their previous age group. The school-age youth aspire to age into the youth leader summer employment positions to provide the same fun experiences that were provided for them. We know that our programs fill fast because of the “family-like” environment that we provide. We have connections to the parents and often learn of extenuating circumstances happening in their lives and inform the schools. Relationships are key and the special sauce of our programs. We intentionally build relationships with parents/caregivers and provide new experiences for youth and families. Throughout the year, we provide multiple opportunities to engage parents, youth and volunteers to engage in our program design. Due to the relationships that we have with parents, they call us with their thoughts and suggestions regularly. However, we distribute a survey during the summer and fall parent orientation. We provide youth and opportunity to choose activities, their level of engagement in the implementation of programs, thoughts on logistics, and evaluation through self-assessment of the YPQA. The youth have an opportunity once each year to evaluate each staff member on their performance, engagement, preparedness, and creativity through an anonymous process.