The mission of the St. Martin de Porres Academy is to break the cycle of poverty through education. In 1994 a group of business people came together to improve opportunities for urban young people. After an eight year experience of seeing countless students who were unable to pay
the very modest tuition of
that elementary school, they envisioned opening a private, tuition-free middle
school for underserved, low-income children from the New Haven area. The
journey began with the initial idea in 2003 and came to fruition with the
opening of St. Martin de Porres Academy in September of 2005.
Our goal is to provide urban boys and girls the opportunity to choose a quality education that will allow them to live up to their full potential. At the Academy we promote more than academic excellence; we cultivate personal responsibility, social skills, and leadership that are balanced with a strong spiritual foundation and recognition of the need to serve others.
As a Nativity model school, all students attend on scholarship. Families make a commitment of time and pay a modest monthly activity fee, but 95% of our operating revenue comes from donations, grants and fundraising events. Each student receives a $16,000 scholarship, which represents the cost of their extended day and extended year education.
In June of 2013, the Academy received full accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Independent Schools and was highly commended for our “remarkable dedication to providing high quality education to an impoverished student population.”
I’ve had the opportunity to work with any number of volunteer organizations throughout my career and am currently actively involved in four organizations. My involvement with St. Martin de Porres Academy has been one of the greatest leadership challenges I’ve undertaken, either in business or in the non-profit world. I joined the Board in 2010 and was elected Chairman in September 2014. My primary focus, and the focus of the Board itself, has been on the long-term sustainability of the school. As such, we have spent the past two and half years shoring up and broadening our fundraising efforts and also strategically examining the work that we do and building a strategy for our continued future success.
Our Strategic Planning efforts of the last six months have emphasized certain elements of board governance as essential to our success in the future. Our ad hoc Governance Committee has recognized that, in view of the school’s dependence on private donations and the lack of reliable institutional or governmental support, our financial sustainability efforts must be board -driven. Consequently, the school must pivot from its historic reliance on the founders and charter board members as its primary source of support and recruit new board members with the capacity to enhance our financial sustainability efforts. Further, the school must develop new techniques, such as greater reliance on technology and social media, to broaden its support base among a younger generation of donors. This will take time, but we have mapped out a pathway to attain these results.
I believe the Strategic Plan that we are now finalizing and which will go to our Board of Trustees for approval in May is a sound plan that will provide the framework for the next few years as we build our internal capacity to fulfill our mission to break the cycle of generational poverty through education and opportunity. Everyone who is involved with SMPA lives that mission daily in a more hands-on fashion that you find in most nonprofit organizations.
In addition to my role as Board Chair, I coach the girls’ varsity basketball team. I present the scholarships to every middle school student each August. I meet with our graduate students and their families to discuss their personal hopes and aspirations and award them scholarships to area high schools. I work with our families to help them complete financial aid packages for college. And sometimes, I’m just the very tall man with whom a 5th grader with behavioral issues must speak at the end of the day.
I witness almost daily the impact that SMPA has on the lives of some of this community’s poorest children. I witness them blossom from timid 5th graders to 8th graders who are poised and eager to enroll at rigorous college prep high schools in communities often far removed from their own personal experiences. It’s a transformational experience for our students and a transformational experience for me personally. Quite frankly, it is the most rewarding volunteer experience I’ve ever had, and so many of our Trustees feel the same way because we see the results every single day.
We are closing in on the 12-year commitment we made to first 5th grade class, the Class of 2017, the year they will graduate from college. From Kahdeem Cohen who will be graduating from Princeton with a degree in engineering, to Maria Gant, who is graduating with a degree in International Relations from Elon to Alexandria Doyles at St. Michaels College who will graduate with a degree in psychology, we have seen these children blossom into scholars and future leaders. We hope that they choose to give back to their communities, working to break the generational cycle of poverty, one precious child at a time. Whatever path they choose, we want them and all our students to have the skills they need to navigate the challenging world they face.
William T. Kosturko
Chairman, Board of Trustees
In order to provide the
necessary support and structure for our students, our school model is: small
class size, an 10-hour extended school day, an 11-month extended school year, two healthy meals and two healthy snacks every day, and required family commitment.
Our students are in school 50% more hours than their public school years. We are proud of our 97% attendance rate.
The Academy’s Extended Day Program is held 4 days a week,
consisting of exploratory activities in 4 categories: service, intellectual,
athletics and arts. A minimum of one activity from each programming component is
required by the end of the school year. This encourages students to explore new
areas that they might not initially be comfortable with. A pass/fail grading
system for activities is based on attendance, behavior, cooperation and
participation. Any student who does not pass their activity will not be given
credit towards their requirement.
Our extended day activities provide creative, enriching, and
fun learning experiences encouraging students to make positive choices at a
critical stage in their development. Athletic events with local schools help
develop a healthy spirit of competition while promoting good sportsmanship. Classes
in chess, drama, or cooking help students explore new avenues of
self-expression. Clubs such as the girls’ empowerment group address the
challenges facing pre-adolescents focusing on topics relevant to their changing
lives that include: identity, drugs and alcohol, and peer pressure. Cultural
field trips, social awareness education, community service and recreational
activities foster a sense of community.
The extended day program is vital to our mission to prepare
each student for college prep high school and college education, and ultimately
to succeed in life. It broadens the academic curriculum by giving each child a
continuum of experiences that will help them to build upon their strengths.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.
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New Haven, CT 06150
(203) 777-2386 giveGreater@cfgnh.org
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