“We take kids who are academically struggling and pair them up with mentors in the same exact neighborhood who are higher achieving,” said Karim Abouelnaga, founder and chief executive officer of Practice Makes Perfect. “The idea is to eventually replace summer school.”
Abouelnaga said that many teachers don’t want to directly teach summer school, so he uses certified teachers to overlook multiple classes. That also makes the six-week program more cost effective than traditional summer school.
“From a funding perspective, summer school now is running anywhere from $800 to $1,300 a student in inner-city neighborhoods,” he said. “We’ve been running at under $250 over the last three years.”
On Saturdays, the group also hosts “Serving Our Streets,” where mentors and other volunteers participate in a community service project. Last week, a group of middle school students pulled weeds and helped beautify a garden in Astoria Park.
“We had a little bit of resistance at first,” he admitted. “But it had been an incredible opportunity to get them to see how much they can do with just a little bit of effort.”