Yesterday, Tuesday March 24, 2015 the Atrium at New Haven City Hall was filled with smiling students and proud family members. Pictures were snapped, certificates distributed and gift cards awarded to excited young students ranging from kindergarteners to Seniors in high school. The infectious spirit of Elm City Believes permeated the air!
Elm City Communities/Housing Authority of the City of New Haven (ECC/HANH) Executive Director Karen DuBois-Walton joined with Mayor Toni N. Harp, Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries and ECC/HANH Board Chair Erik Clemons to recognize the winners of our Inaugural Report Card Challenge. Over 50 students whose families are supported by our low income public housing or housing choice voucher (Section 8) programs were feted during this reception in their honor.
What was the Report Card Challenge? A simple idea borne out of our overall ECC Believes Initiative to support the academic achievement of our low income students, the report card challenge simply asked students to submit a copy of their report card to one of our management offices located throughout the city. The incentive was the promise of recognition, gift cards and prizes to the development that had the highest percentage of participation in the challenge.
While simply designed, the challenge represented much more. It sends a message throughout our portfolio that attendance, education and achievement are valued. It sends a message to our children and their families that their entire community cares about their success and stands ready to support their efforts. It provided yet another reason why parents made sure to make it to report card nights at schools throughout our city to pick up their child’s report card. It created buzz amongst the youngsters in housing communities as they encouraged their friends to also submit their report cards so that their development could have the highest percentage and win the prize. It helps to create the culture of academic achievement that is so important when closing the achievement and opportunity gap.
And so this simple challenge was so much more than an effort to collect report cards. It is a demonstration of our belief in our children. It is a demonstration that education and successful social emotional development are keys to the successful launch of our young people and key to breaking cycles of poverty. We believe in our students and we believe in our families’ and our communities’ ability to support the dreams of our kids. Together we will ensure that our kids continue to rise.
And during the upcoming April school break we will celebrate with the children of Farnam Court – who as recipients of the prize for highest participation during the Report Card Challenge will have the video game bus and pizza party on site for a day of fun and reward. Congratulations to all our young people!