Weekend academic program helps Syracuse students stay ahead in school

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A new 2015 program is helping Central New York middle school students meet goals in the classroom and in life.

The 100 Black Men of Syracuse launched the 'Saturday Academy' in January for roughly 40 students, mostly from the Syracuse and Utica area.

Students meet every week at the Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School on Park Avenue.

The four-hour weekly program has its own curriculum focused on language arts, science and math.

Organization president Vincent Love says he got the idea after visiting another chapter in New York City.

"I got the idea that this was something we need to do here in Syracuse," Love says. "We need to take ownership and take responsibility for educating our kids."

The Saturday Academy is not your average tutoring program.

Directors plan their own hands-on lessons and activities to get students ahead in the classroom. They also find ways to include African American history and culture in their lessons.

"We have some students who might have academic or social problems on the campus but they come here and they do fine," says program director, Shanelle Benson. "Those are the success stories."

This year's session runs January through June, and leaders hope to bring it back in the fall.

Organizers were able to fund this year's 25-week program with fundraiser money and a CNY Community Foundation Grant.

They estimate it will cost them $40,000 to operate the program for the 2015-16 school year.

"It is costly," Love says. "So we're constantly looking for people who will partner with us in the community to keep this going."

To get more information about volunteering or donating to the Saturday Academy, click here.

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