This fall, Harlem Lacrosse has expanded their operations to Boston, launching programs at Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School (Young Achievers) in Mattapan (Ma.) and TechBoston Academy (TechBoston) in Dorchester, (Ma.).
Harlem Lacrosse has a long history with Boston and the surrounding metropolitan area. The program was founded by a Simon Cataldo, a Concord (Ma.) native who was also a special education math teacher at Frederick Douglass Academy 1 in Central Harlem. Since the program was officially established in 2011, multiple Concord residents have joined the organization’s Executive Board and hosted Massachusetts-based fundraisers. Moreover, hundreds of students from Harlem Lacrosse program sites have visited Massachusetts in conjunction with a Harlem Lacrosse’s annual homestay program that connects participants with families involved with the youth lacrosse program in Concord, Lincoln-Sudbury, Duxbury, Hingham and Andover.
"We are thrilled to be working with Young Achievers and TechBoston and look forward to growing to serve new schools and communities in Boston for years to come,” said Harlem Lacrosse Executive Board Member and Boston Advisory Board Chair Maureen Dibble. “Because Harlem Lacrosse has such strong ties and connections to the greater Boston area, it made sense to establish local programs.”
Expansion into Boston was led by Dibble and Harlem Lacrosse Executive Board Member Louis Salemy. Harlem Lacrosse places a full-time program director in urban public schools to coach lacrosse and to use their role as coach to encourage better outcomes for underserved students. Program Directors push-in to classrooms if a student is struggling and continually provide daily mentoring, tutoring, and general school support services. Salemy and Dibble worked tirelessly to identify schools where Harlem Lacrosse’s innovative, around-the-clock intervention model would be most effective.
“What makes Harlem Lacrosse unique is the model – having a full-time staff member with participants every day throughout the year doing an activity their students love to do and will influence them to achieve great things in other parts of their life,” Salemy said. “We identified Boston public schools through a large set of criteria that included size of the school, how the school was performing, school leadership, if the school had access to field space and public transportation, and ultimately, whether the school and the students really needed and would benefit from Harlem Lacrosse.”
Ultimately, they settled on TechBoston Academy and Young Acheivers. Eliza Halmo, who played on the Tufts lacrosse team and graduated Summa [lacrosse] Laude, is the full-time girls program director at TechBoston, a 6th through 12th grade school located in Dorchester. Adrian Heneveld, a graduate of Michigan who spent the last two year as a Teach for America corps member in Indianapolis, was hired to lead the boys program at Young Achievers.
“TechBoston Academy is excited to welcome Harlem Lacrosse into our community,” said Keith Love, the Co-Headmaster at TechBoston Academy. “Harlem Lacrosse shares the same values and goals that we attempt to bring to our students every day; this partnership will undoubtedly widen the net of possibility and bring hope to our young ladies in all grade levels.”
Virginia Chalmers, the Principal, Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School added: “Young Achievers is very excited to be partnering with Harlem Lacrosse. The combined goals of athletic engagement and academic achievement are perfectly matched to the needs of our students ... The team at Young Achievers is committed to closing the opportunity gap, as well as the achievement gap, and the only way we can accomplish this is to partner with organizations who share our mission and drive. We are thrilled to have found such a partner in Harlem Lacrosse.”
Harlem Lacrosse - Boston is supported locally by a regional Advisory Board that is comprised of community members who are actively engaged in building the organization’s local support network, helping fundraise to maintain and expand local programming, and advising Harlem Lacrosse leadership on strategic planning for local operations. Already, the program has found success recruiting dozens of students from both school sites to the program and has continued to build upon strong connections to local universities, towns, independent schools and corporations.
“We are proud to support Harlem Lacrosse,” said Chris Baldwin, Chief Executive Officer of BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. in Westborough, Massachussetts and a Harlem Lacrosse Executive member. “This program truly makes a difference in the lives of youth, and I’m thrilled that Harlem Lacrosse will be making a difference in our communities in Massachusetts.”
To learn more about Harlem Lacrosse, please visit their website at http://www.harlemlacrosse.org/