The Coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated disparities that had long preexisted the public health emergency. Across all academic fields, children of the African-American and low-income populations are significantly behind other children in the state. The situation now is far worse than it was just a few years ago. Even as compared to neighboring Caesar Rodney School District, children in Dover are 16% less proficient in language arts, and 19% less proficient in Math.
Though schools are doing all they can, neighborhood interventions are required in order to prevent a generation of social crises. But downtown is a programming desert; children do not have access to the YMCA or a Boys and Girls Club. They need our help.
In 2021, we launched a pilot program to determine children’s needs and our ability to address them. This year, we will expand that program to provide academic assessment, monitoring, professional tutoring, recreation, social-skills development, and a full afternoon meal. Stakeholders have already invested heavily to launch this program and to renovate the existing building. But the need is great, so much more needs to be done.
The People’s Community Center relies upon public and private partnerships to provide the expertise, volunteers, and funding to make this work possible. We now need investments for programmatic expansion, two new sets of ADA compliant restrooms, an adequate HVAC system, and an elevator for children with limited mobility.