Article by Urban Alliance staff.

From after-school programs where students can experience one-on-one and small group activities, homework help and lessons, to mentoring and tutoring programs, the Urban Alliance network provides a multitude of educational opportunities for youth of all ages. Many of these programs are also seeking volunteers to help in a variety of capacities, and while there isn’t a shortage of children and teens who are in need of a safe, educational and helpful out-of-school program, the need for assistants and volunteers exists.

Mentoring Programs Reach Youth and Their Families

Ascend Mentoring, an initiative of the Urban Alliance network, provides a multitude of support services through strategic partnerships for the families of youth participants around three main areas: employment services, mental health and financial rehabilitation.

“The Ascend Mentoring program matches a youth, age 12-18 and from Windsor, with a caring mentor who provides guidance through their most developmental stages in life,” explains Ricardo Herrera, Ascend Mentoring’s Executive Director.

Ascend’s program is rooted in the philosophy and theory of positive youth development, which focuses on helping youth to blossom through a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence. Beyond mentorship, Ascend offers after-school based activities throughout the year, including a computer coding after-school program, employment training, leadership development and recreational activities. Further, Ascend assists families of youth with services that range from financial rehabilitation and employment training to mental health services. 

“Countless studies have proven that financial stressors on a family can lead to many long-term negative impacts on all family members. We aim to alleviate the stressors on a low-income family’s life. Our model accomplishes this by providing adults with the resources to create a successful financial foundation for the family,” said Herrera.

Restoring Lives CDC, which is based at House of Restoration Church in Hartford, currently offers mentoring program called Youth Leadership Initiative to 120 children and teens age 7-18. As part of their model, youth start off in a small group and then are matched one on one with an adult mentor. Their matching program takes into consideration different interests and compatibility as well as feedback from mentees, parents and mentors.

Ascend Mentoring is in need of mentors. To learn more about Restoring Lives, visit

After-School Programs and Activities Provide Encouragement to Students

Every week day after school from 3:45 to 5:45pm, children from the North End of Hartford gather in the basement of the Hartford City Mission (HCM) ministry house and at Antioch Baptist Church for Noah After-School, a program that provides homework and reading assistance, encouragement and academic support to students in first through fifth grade. Other aspects of Noah After School include Bible lessons, games, crafts, dance, art, music, snacks, and more. 

“Throughout this past year, Hartford City Mission was able to start off it’s second Noah After School site! We are so excited to be partnering with Antioch Baptist Church on Nelson Street…I have seen kids truly start to live ‘God’s way.’ Parents are very appreciative of our after-school program. Noah After School is making a difference in the kids’ lives academically and spiritually,” said Cheryl Maida, Assistant Children’s Director at HCM.

The Master’s School, a new participant in the Urban Alliance network, is an independent, college-preparatory, non-denominational Christian day school enrolling children in preschool through grade 12. In addition to other activities, after-school athletics play an important role in the lives of Master’s School students. They encourage students to learn the values of hard work, discipline, teamwork and sacrificing their own desires for those of the group, among other life lessons. To learn more about The Mater’s School, visit

Noah After School depends almost completely on volunteer assistance. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with Noah After School, click here.

Beyond Tutoring

The YMCA of Greater Hartford is an association open to all and committed to helping people develop their God-given potential in spirit, mind and body. The YMCA’s Before and After-School programs offer quality care for elementary age children, in a safe, secure environment. They offer a curriculum that appeals to kids and at the same time teaches confidence, encourages self-expression and enriches social development.

At the Wilson-Gray YMCA in Hartford, youth are paired with tutors to help with homework and academic skill development.

“This past year I was able to help several middle school students develop great homework skills. These students did not have a system of getting their work done after school and therefore had difficulty within the classroom,” explained Reginald Jean, Academic Specialist at the Wilson-Gray YMCA.

“Last year we had approximately twenty students involved in academic advising but were limited on tutors. This year we are expecting more students and could use the help of some tutors,” he said.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a tutor with the Wilson-Gray YMCA, click here.