Between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, what will you be doing today? In Far Rockaway, Queens, New York City, 600 kids will be running for their lives.
Different from a majority of neighborhoods in the country, Far Rockaway youth are not safe on the streets near their schools and their homes. It isn’t just the thugs who get shot in gang wars, it’s anyone in the vicinity.
• NYPD police report that there are 20 active and violent gangs in the Rockaways
• The 101st Police Precinct in the Rockaways was one of only five precincts city-wide that saw an increase in crime with a 9.15% increase in overall crime
• Large street gangs readily employ violence to control and expand drug distribution
• The 6 public housing units in the Rockaways comprise fully 50% of the public housing in all of Queens
• Many housing units experience severe problems with drugs and gangs
• Recent undercover drug sweeps have arrested individuals selling drugs within drug-free school zones, in housing complexes, near child and day care centers, near public schools, and using children to deliver drugs—selling with near impunity
• In Queens, homicide accounted for the most teen deaths, at 36 deaths, among youth aged 12-18
The hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm are noted as the most dangerous time for teens. In 2008 alone, the Rockaways saw 6 youth gunned down during those hours in a short two-week span of time.
But 600 kids weren’t. Those kids were safe, because they were at The Action Center, an after-school program that has been helping kids and families since 2001 by offering a variety of programs that not only keep them off the streets, but offer productive and healthy activities such as piano and ballet lessons, karate and fencing, choir and band, language and basic tutoring, cooking, television production, drama and dance, volleyball, soccer, golf, fashion design, conflict resolution, and—most importantly—a solid relationship with adult role models who deeply care.
And, not one Action Center participant has been involved in a single incident of crime, drug, or unwanted pregnancy. This is a staggering level of success against a challenge of monumental proportions.
Thus far, over 4,000 young people have been safe and engaged in positive, healthy activities at The Action Center. Over 40,000 Rockaway families and 4,000 youth (aged birth to 19) have reduced the overwhelming odds in their lives and are on the path to happy, healthy, and thriving lives. Action Center effectively reduces risk factors in a youth’s life and increases their protective factors.
Research has proven time and time again that the most powerful weapon in keeping kids alive is after-school programs. If Action Center were not on the front line:
• Kids will die (Example: an American child or teen is killed by gunfire every two hours and 40 minutes; kids are three times as likely to be unsafe during the hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm resulting in 3-4 kids dying each day. Each dollar invested in an at-risk child brings a return of $10.64 to $15.39. )
• Families will collapse (Example: after-school programs keep children safe and learning until parents get off of work—90% of Action Center parents work until 5 or 6 pm. Without after-school programs, these parents would not be able to keep their jobs in order to provide for their children—this would result in more than a 90% increase to an already-high and persistent child poverty rate.)
• Crime will escalate (Example: after-school programs have shown 22% decreases in drug activity, 13% decreases in juvenile arrests, and 12.5% decrease in youth vandalism . Without after-school programs, an already-high crime rate in the Rockaways will skyrocket. Youth not in after-school programs are 49% more likely to use drugs and 37% more likely to become teen parents. After-school programs result in 33% reduced crime costs. )
• Dropout rates will increase (Example: after-school participants are 20% likely to drop out of school. The lifetime earnings losses associated with dropping out of high school are $262,519 and a high school dropout will contribute $59,210 less in federal and state income taxes over his or her lifetime. )
• Youth intellectual capital and earnings potential is lost (Example: after-school programs are powerful learning centers for students with lasting and far-reaching effects, and possess an asset that gives them the ability and opportunity to influence students to develop a belief system that will ultimately impact their academic and social futures—that asset is social capital. )
• Remedial programs at colleges and workplaces will increase (Example: regular participation in after-school programs is associated with gains of 20 percentiles in math achievement test scores for elementary students and 12 percentiles for middle school students. Test scores of low-income, at-risk youth improved significantly in both reading and mathematics after they participated in after-school programs. Improvement in achievement scores increases an individual’s earning potential by 81%. Corporate Voices for Working Families found that American business spends over $60 billion annually on training, much of which is focused on remedial reading, writing, and math—after-school programs significantly eradicate the need for business remedial programs. )
• Youth violence will increase (Example: studies of after-school programs have shown statistically significant reductions in student misconduct, fights, and problematic behaviors. )
• Intergenerational poverty will persist and increase (Example: low-income teenagers who participated in after-school programs were more likely to be high school graduates (63%) as compared to nonparticipants (42%) and were more likely to go to post-secondary schools (42%) as compared to nonparticipants (16%). The increased earning potential for after-school participants is 31%. )
• Taxes go up (Example: youth who attend after-school programs are 30% less likely to participate in criminal activities. Researchers estimate that every dollar invested in after-school programs saves communities $2.50 in crime-related costs. The average cost of a high-quality after-school program is between $1,500 and $2,500 per child per year. )
• School funding decreases without children staying in school (Example: 9th-grade students who had participated in after-school programs had higher daily attendance and credit accumulation than those who did not participate in after-school programs. )
• College and life dreams die (Example: participants in after-school programs enrolled in college-preparatory math courses at double the national average, and were accepted to college-preparatory high schools by more than 80%. )
• Future earnings are lost (Example: students who are first in their families to go to college end poverty in their family line, forever. They each earn an additional $1 million over the course of their career and their children are more likely to enroll themselves. The increased earning potential for after-school participants is 31%. )
• Lower work productivity (Example: concern about their children’s afterschool care results in parents missing an average of eight days of work per year. Decreased worker productivity related to parental concerns about afterschool care costs businesses up to $300 billion per year. This was consistent regardless of parental gender. )
• Increased medical and insurance costs (Example: studies have shown that the prevalence of obesity was significantly lower for afterschool participants than nonparticipants. )
• Increased business instability (Example: parents report that after-school programs caused them to miss less work than before (60%), supported them in keeping their jobs (59%), and allowed them to work more hours (54%). )
• Drugs rule (Example: middle school students who regularly participated in after-school programs reduced the use of drugs and alcohol by four to six times of students participating in school-based substance-abuse prevention programs aimed at middle school students. )
• Decline in overall community health and safety (Example: studies show that juvenile crime, auto accidents, crime against juveniles, and other risk behaviors such as youth smoking, drinking, drugs, and teen sex are more likely to occur between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm. For every child in after-school programs, the quality of life in the entire community increases exponentially. )
• Increased taxes for juvenile detention (Example: the 2007 NYC Mayor’s Management Report indicates that the cost of detaining a child is $551 per day ($201,115 per year). That same amount put into after-school programs not only saves $551 per day for a child, but puts 600 youth on a positive path towards school completion, college graduation, and careers that keep the community vibrant and thriving—a 1:600 cost savings. )
• More prisons (Example: youth who are placed at OCFS juvenile prisons are significantly more likely to be rearrested than those who remain in the community—and involved in positive alternatives—following adjudication of their delinquency case. Approximately 80% of juveniles who spent time in OCFS facilities re-offend. After-school programs reduce and stop juvenile delinquency.)
• Increased welfare costs (Example: teen mothers are less likely to complete high school and earn an adequate living. As a result, young mothers are more likely to require public assistance to support themselves and their children. Decreases in welfare costs per after-school participant are 33%.
• Gangs rule (Example: research has suggested that funding for gang- and crime-prevention would most judiciously be spent on preventive measures shown to lead vulnerable children away from gang activity and into constructive activity. Additionally, programs and policies that treat problems related to conditions of poverty, educational failure and isolation, all of which make gang membership attractive to youths living in communities of extreme disadvantage, have demonstrated their effectiveness and efficiency. )
• The overwhelming tide of risk factors wins out over the hope and promise of young lives—community despair rules (Example: the 2006 national Justice Policy Institute shows the harm caused by the unnecessary over-incarceration of children, and highlights the well-known fact that detained youth face barriers in returning to school and, in the long run, experience reduced success in the labor market. )
• Reduced quality of community life (Example: “Healthy families are part of healthy businesses, and investments at all levels, federal to local, and from all sectors, public to private, are crucial to ensuring that America’s children do not fall through the cracks while their parents are at work and they are out of school.” After-school programs have the power to reduce crime, increase safety, bring neighbors together, and foster community pride and ownership. This support, these relationships and the benefits to the community create a mutually beneficial relationship of immeasurable value. )
• Communities decay (Example: in communities where at least 50% of the kids are participating in after-school programs, that community is five (5)times more likely to be a healthy community because they are putting resources behind them. )
• House values drop—low school test scores (Example: school test scores impact house values —test scores go up, home values go up; scores go down, home values go down. There is a significant effect of grades and test scores on house price: the lower the score of a school, the lower the value of a home; larger homes devalued at a greater rate. Higher elementary school test scores are associated with higher house prices: a 5% increase in test scores will lead to an increase in house prices of approximately 2.1%. Difference in school ratings result in a minimum of an 8% reduction in home values—this difference is greater for larger homes. An increase of approximately 20 percentage points in proficiency test pass rates increased house values by about 7%. )
• House values drop—high crime rates (Example: not surprisingly and nearly unanimously, research concludes that crime tends to depress property values. Crime has a statistically significant negative impact on property values. The fear of crime has an effect in reduced home values. A one-standard deviation increase in the crime rate pushed down the per-acre price in Rochester, NY by $9,419 (price adjusted for 2009). For every percent that crime decreases, housing prices significantly increases. A 10% decrease in crime will increase house values by 2 to 4.5%. Homes are highly discounted in high crime areas and in areas that experience violent crimes—devaluing homes at 39%. Prices of an average house in a high crime area are valued at a declination of 40%. Neighborhoods that decrease aggravated assault and murder experience an increase in their home values. )
• Those who can, flee—taking tax base, middle-class jobs, school and community funding, and businesses with them (Example: “Chasing the Past or Investing in Our Future.” The loss of population translates into the loss of additional economic activity. Cities losing population must grapple with maintaining service levels in the face of dwindling tax revenues. With depleted resources, their abilities to transform themselves to regain vitality are compromised. Communities who experience population movements due to community decay and decline experience 1) decreases in home and property values and 2) increase of taxes to compensate for population loss, reduction in land values, loss of labor income, and economic output. )
With Action Center on the front line, any child in Far Rockaway can grow up to an adult who will make a difference in the world. Action Center will be there to be sure they do.