Mayor James J. Fiorentini with city councilors and a committee of volunteers welcomed dozens of residents and non-profit youth service providers to City Hall Friday to distribute $500,000 for summer youth activities and projects.
The money, which comes from the city’s federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds, will pay for kids to go to summer camp, go to the YMCA, the YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, take kayak lessons, learn to swim and much more (see the full list below).
The goal of the Youth Activities and Mental Health fund is to support youth activities and youth who traditionally experience isolation. Low-income and minority children, and groups that support them, were given priority. Funding also prioritized activities over programs that require planning, development or hiring of staff.
“Our young people have been especially hard hit by the pandemic,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “The social and educational isolation of the past two-plus years imposed a terrible burden on our kids. This one-time funding is a chance to do some very meaningful and necessary things to improve the lives of our children and teens.”
The mayor singled out Committee Chairman George Moriarty and City Councilors Melinda Barrett and Tom Sullivan for their efforts bringing the grant program to fruition.
“Friday’s happy event was made possible by the hard and great work of our Youth Activities Committee and the two councilors who were on it,” the mayor said, also commending city staff who “really kicked into overdrive to make certain this got done.”
The mayor and City Council approved $500,000 for this year’s grant program. This past spring, the mayor formed a 15-person committee to review proposals. The committee consisted of city councilors, the school superintendent, community leaders, neighborhood representation and non-profits.
Mayor Fiorentini recently announced that he will be funding the grant program again next year.
The city broadly advertised the program and solicited applications over several months with a focus on community-based organizations, athletic leagues, the faith community, public schools, veterans’ organizations, and individuals including parents and grandparents.
In addition to local media, social media and the city’s website, information and applications were distributed to Haverhill Public Schools, the Chamber of Commerce, Northern Essex Community College and the UMass iHub.
In total, the committee received $933,000 in requests, eventually funding just over half that amount. Recipients received funding Friday, July 8, after signing agreements and providing tax information. Recipients of larger amounts are required to make regular reports.
Below are brief descriptions of a few of the proposals submitted:
- Athletics: The Haverhill Girls Soccer League proposed improvements to the athletic fields at the American Legion property, while two boxing clubs underscored the connection between academic learning and athletic achievement.
- Music & Arts: One applicant proposed music production classes, while another proposed engaging youth in painting projects around the city.
- Education: The Haverhill Public Schools, as well as community education providers, were well represented with proposals. They included violence preventing programs, camperships, and academic learning classes. The UMass iHub submitted an application to introduce youth to new technologies. HP3 offers a system-wide career awareness and career development program.
- Civic: The Chamber of Commerce proposed a summer series to connect 105 at-risk youth to mental health activities, physical education programs, and cultural connections.
The breakdown of the applicants was as follows:
- Parent, grandparent, guardian, individual (3)
- Educational Institutions (10)
- Community-Based Organization (9)
- Faith-Based (4)
- Private Individual (2)
- Athletic Leagues & Clubs (6)
- Businesses and Civic Groups (2)
Youth Activities and Mental Health Fund Awards:
VIP Haverhill/International Institute of Greater Lawrence Scope of Services: The applicant submitted two proposals:
- Cell Dreamer-Student Version is an eight-week personal development course that helps at-risk youth to discover new coping methods and positive behaviors. The course empowers them to meet overwhelming challenges, such as isolation, depression, and learning loss. Activities include self-reflection, engaging exercises, video modules, daily motivating texts, and weekly coaching.
- The applicant seeks funds to provide celebratory, recreational, and team building activities for youth. Included will be an trip to Canobie Lake Park; kayaking with police and youth; La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership at Gordon College; youth-led annual Walk for Peace.
87 Washington St.
Scope of Services: Provide a one-day a week summer Public Art Initiative for youth ages 12-18. The youth will bring beautiful, meaningful, and purposeful art to Downtown Haverhill. Locations for the murals will be identified and approved by the city. The program will teach youth the fundamentals of mural painting, develop their appreciation for the city, and encourage socialization skills and peer-to-peer engagement.
Scope of Services: Working with 30+ students at the Nettle School in Haverhill, the core program – called Givers & Visionaries – provides a unique mentioning process that allows youth to be the leaders of projects. Through this process, the youth become more engaged civically, acquire greater awareness of organizations, people, and events in their community. They practice social-emotional skills like empathy. They learn job skills and college readiness skills. Potential projects include volunteering at an animal shelter, engaging with kids in a foster home, planning activities for Afghan refugee children.
120 Bellevue Ave.
Scope of Services: The focus is on breaking down isolation by engaging youth in weekly activities such as basketball, Jenga, spike ball, food and roasting marshmallows, and trips to Canobie Lake Park and Six Flags. Encourages socialization skills, addresses youth isolation, especially for at-risk youth, and allows for positive peer-to-peer engagement.
Scope of Services: The applicant submitted two proposals: (a) Applicant proposes to collaborate with the Haverhill Office of the Department of Children and Families to host a Christmas Holiday Party for teens in foster care, through the DCF office. The party will include a DJ, dancing, crafts, puzzles, movie, games, photo booth, sensory room, food and drinks.
(b) The second proposal proposes to work again with the DCF office in Haverhill to host aSibling Ties event that will unite brothers and sisters in separate foster homes. The event breaks down the isolation from family that siblings experience when sent to different foster homes.
- Boys & Girls Club of Haverhill
55 Emerson St.
Scope of Services: Submitted two programs, both recommended for funding by the Committee.
- The Club offers a music program for fourteen young women who participate in a chorus group. As noted by research, music accelerates brain development, language acquisition, and reading skills. The Club proposes to purchase equipment, music sheets, microphones, and other related items to support the music instruction and performance.
- The Club seeks funds to support camperships for 120 low income, at-risk youth, who will spend a week at Camps Tasker, in Newton, N.H. The camp experience will have help breakdown the isolation and disengagement experienced by too many low income, at risk youth in Haverhill.
- Caleb Dustin Hunkin Middle School
480 South Main St.
Scope of Services: The school proposes an eight-week program to engage students in positive activities that will develop personal goals, build interpersonal skills, increase feelings of self-worth and self-awareness, and contribute to the community. The eight weeks include: Intro/Ice Breakers, Team Building and Cooperative Games, NECC field trip, Volunteer at Homeless Shelter, Nature Walk at Winnekenni, and Ropes Course field trip.
- Haverhill Public Schools/Burnham School
45 Fountain St.
Scope of Services: The Haverhill Public Schools will use the funds to pay for the membership of at-risk high school students in physical education and sports related activities offered at three establishments: (a) Premier Martial Arts one-year memberships for six students. (b) Inner City Boxing Club one-year memberships and gear for twelve at-risk youth. (c) Cedardale Health Club three-month memberships for 12 at-risk high school students.
- Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce
2 Merrimack St.
Scope of Services: The Chamber of Commerce will partner with Cedar’s Foods, Museum of Printing, City Hall, Duston-Duston Garrison House, Plum Island Kayak, and HC Media to sponsor a series of activities that will address the mental and physical health of at-risk youth, while engaging them in cultural significant landmarks in Haverhill. Each programming location will be a 3-4 hour event, with lunch. The goal of the events is to breakdown isolation and to reengage youth in collaborative and team activities, enhance their knowledge of Haverhill, and promote their physical and mental health and build their socialization skills, especially through interactions with adults from business, media, government, and the cultural sector.
Haverhill Public Schools/Girls Empowered Means Success (GEMS)
137 Monument St.
Scope of Services: The GEMS program will serve 15 female English Language Learners attending Haverhill High School. The group will meet on a weekly basis, under the leadership of two female support faculty. The group sessions will involve discussion, role modeling, hands-on activities, videos, guest speakers, field trips, and community service activities. The goal of the program is to build greater self-awareness and guide the youth to make positive, healthy decisions for their person lives.
Haverhill Girls Softball League
Scope of Services: The League proposes to use the funds to offset the costs of supporting the games for the young girls of Haverhill. Expenses that may be covered include equipment, fees, uniforms, insurance, bathroom facilities, and umpires. The League will maintain a complete list of the expenses paid through the Fund.
Golden Hill School PTO
140 Boardman St.
Scope of Services: The PTO supports the school by purchasing items that the school budget is unable to cover. Items include teaching subscriptions, enrichment programs, and equipment, especially for the playground area. As part of its fundraising campaign, the PTO sponsored the first ever Golden Hill/Nettle Fun Run.
Nettle School PTO
150 Boardman St.
Scope of Services: The PTO supports Nettle School by purchasing items not covered by the annual school budget. Among the items the funds will support are teaching subscriptions, enrichment programs, and equipment. As part of its fundraising campaign, the Nettle School PTO collaborated with the Golden Hill School PTO to sponsor the first ever Golden Hill/Nettle Fun Run.
John Greenleaf Whittier Middle School PTO
265 Concord St., Haverhill Middle School
Scope of Services: The school proposes to help at-risk youth play games, exercise, and build comradery through teamwork, by supporting the basketball program. The funds will be used to purchase four playground grade basketball hoops, three playground grade recycled plastic picnic tables, two outdoor storage units for equipment, with the balance for delivery and installation costs.
Somebody Cares New England
358 Washington St.
Scope of Services: The applicant submitted five proposals:
- Sponsor a Back to School Bash for the youth in the Mount Washington neighborhood. The outdoor activity will include basketball games, relay races on an inflatable course, dunk tank, carnival style games, dinner, dessert. Each youth will be provided with school necessities from the “School Shop.”
- The applicant will host several monthly outings for 18-21 at-risk youth. The youth will visit a trampoline park, laser tag site, nature hikes, etc. The goal is to promote overall well being and mental health for as many as twenty-six youth.
- The applicant proposes to use the funds to overhaul the youth game area. New items will include a pool table, foosball tables, and an air hockey table. By engaging in these games, youth will be drawn to the center, will reengage with peers, isolation will be broken down, and youth will begin to experience improvements in their overall well-being.
- The applicant will host a basketball camp and an art camp, serving approximately 50 youth between 7-18 years old. Youth can choose either one or both. Youth will engage in basketball drills and practices, while other youth are engaged in art projects. During breaks, the youth will meet in small groups, with a leader, to discuss relevant topics: conflict resolution, peer pressure, bullying, etc. Other youth will be engaged as volunteers as part of the community outreach project.
- The applicant will launch a Young Adult Program serving low-to-moderate income youth from the Mount Washington neighborhood. The goal of the program is to help young people make the jump to adulthood and navigate independent living. Social activities and educational opportunities will be incorporated into the program.
- Haverhill Inner City Boxing
The Club will host two boxing events as vehicles to promote awareness of mental health issues. This idea was suggested by a sixteen year-old girl who works out at the club, who herself suffers from agoraphobia. Her time at the boxing club has helped her to face this challenge and overcome it. She wants to shed light on mental health challenges faced by Haverhill youth. The two boxing events will provide a “captive audience” where the message can be delivered. The funds will be used to create and distribute posters and prizes. A professional therapist will be engaged and event space will be obtained.
Luis E. Quinones
1 Water St.
Scope of Services: An online music production course taught by Mr. Quinones. The course will include twelve hours of instruction over a six-week period. Mr. Quinones will provide printable pdfs, links, and other resources. He will follow a prescribed course syllabus. Participating youth will need access to a computer and will need to download a free trial music software. The goal of the course is to teach basic music production, but also use this as a way to develop self-confidence, ease isolation, and engage with peers.
Presidential Gardens Neighborhood Association
140 Evergreen Drive
Scope of Services: The program will serve low-income youth ages six to seventeen years of age who live in the Section 8 property. The Youth Program sponsored by the Neighborhood Association will provide homework assistance, arts & crafts lessons, field trips, and snacks. The program will serve 26 youth during the summer and will breakdown isolation and promote healthy conversations and positive peer-to-peer and adult interactions.
Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel Church
409 Washington St.
Scope of Services: The funds will be used to support youth programming, a creative development program, a community mental health and wellness fair. The focus will be on addressing mental health through positive creative expression. Youth will learn about the arts, theater, music, public speaking, writing, technology skills. Group sessions will address topics such as trauma, stigma, DEI, problem solving, de-escalation, and self-reflection and self-expression.
111 Lafayette Square
Scope of Services: Ruth’s House will use the funds to cover the fees for music classes, sports activities, and camperships for low-income, at-risk youth whose families are unable to pay for these fees. In addition, youth will receive scholarships tied to the number of hours youth devote to community service.
675 Washington St.
Scope of Services: The school will bring in the L-Line Dancers to conduct two performances: one for the third graders and one for the fourth graders. The 45-minute performance includes dance routines and a discussion of topics such as anti-bullying, respect, responsibility, and leading an alcohol and drug-free lifestyle. Core values are taught through the fun aspects of a wonderful and entertaining dance routine.
- UMass Lowell Innovation Center
2 Merrimack St.
Scope of Services: The funds will be used to conduct a Hacking for Design course for at-risk, low-income youth recruited in partnership with local neighborhood and community-based organizations. The high school will also be involved in identifying and recruiting youth. The course will introduce the youth to 3-D printing, design thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. The curriculum will include guest speaker from UMass Lowell and from local businesses. Educational and career opportunities will be emphasized.
26 White St.
Scope of Services: The applicant submitted two proposals, both of which were approved by the Advisory Committee.
(a) The applicant proposes to hire and pay teen mentors for its Academy of Creative Arts program. The program is an after-school music and arts program that allows children to explore their boundless creativity and musicality. The teen mentors will work under the supervision of adult professional educators.
(b)The applicant seeks funds to cover the fee for six students who have had several years of group music lessons to advance to individualized instruction. The one-on-one instruction will be for ten lessons at $30 per lesson.
81 Winter St.
Scope of Services: The YMCA proposes to support 50 teen memberships for three months. The YMCA will also offer 100 low income, at-risk youth scholarships to the summer camps at Tricklin’ Falls. In support of its pick-up basketball league, the YMCA will cover referee costs, reversible pinnies, and winning team awards.
- YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts
107 Winter St.
Scope of Services: To compensate for the time youth lost during the pandemic, the YWCA proposes an 8-week program for 52 children ages 5 to 14 years of age. The themed curriculum focuses on social, emotional, and academic development. The weeks will include sports week with a trip to a triple A baseball game, adventure week with a trip. Stem week will include a visit to the Museum of Science.
- Haverhill Downtown Boxing, Inc.
84 Locust St.
Scope of Services: The Club will use the funds to cover the membership fee for low-income, at-risk youth. The Club will enroll the youth in the beginners boxing program, which uses the training experience to reinforce the value of education, well-being, confidence, and teamwork. The boxing instructors regular stress attendance in the club relies on attendance in school.
Scope of Services: The applicant will use the funds to cover the enrollment fee of low-income, at-risk youth who often lack the financial resources to participate in the league. The applicant will coordinate with the city to identify and recruit youth who meet CDBG income guidelines to ensure the target population is engaged.
150 Boardman St.
Scope of Services: The applicant will develop and coordinate community service projects that will be carried out by the students at the Nettle School. The projects will include cooking meals three times for residents of the Emmaus House shelter; community clean-up at Riverside Park; ten care packages with clothing; ten pet adoption packages; and a youth tournament.
Scope of Services: The applicant serve 100+ low income, at-risk youth at a Haverhill location. The applicant will provide informal instruction in kayaking, paddle boarding, teamwork, and pay the fee for this kind of instruction.
- CCF Ministries of Haverhill, Washington St.
Scope of Services: The applicant seeks funds to enroll ten at-risk, low-income youth in three months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In addition to the training and physical fitness aspects of the course, the youth will learn winning attitudes, positive self-image, and improved mental health. The classes also enable youth to engage in peer-to-peer support to help break down the isolation caused by the pandemic.
- Haverhill Public Schools Youth Risk Survey
Conducted and analyzed by the American Institute for Research, HPS students were surveyed on variety of behaviors with results reported to the School Committee and community in February and March.
- Haverhill Public Private Partnership (HP3)
HP3 will use the funds mainly to hire staff and transport students to and from workforce, and to educational mentoring opportunities.
Salvation Army, 395 Main Street
Scope of Services: The organization will sponsor ten camp scholarships for at-risk youth who would otherwise be unable to attend an overnight summer camp. Camp activities will include outdoor adventuring, physical fitness, STEAM, literacy, and the arts. The site is Camp Wonderland in Sharon, MA.
Leaving the Streets Ministry, Lafayette Square
Scope of Services: The organization will address the mental health issues of youth, especially low-income and youth of color, who are disconnected from positive activities. Leaving the Streets Ministry will reengage youth through the organization’s extensive outreach network and street presence. The organization will offer activities such as sports, peer-to-peer groups, adult mentoring, and neighborhood clean-up projects.