The ENERGY program began as an outreach mission of Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1998, for youth on Buffalo’s West Side. Our name ENERGY reflects what we value: Education, Nurture, Encouragement, Readiness, Growth for Youth. Over the years, ENERGY has evolved into a robust place for children whose families are refugees and recently immigrated to this country, to develop English language skills, self confidence and cultural awareness. ENERGY provides a safe, welcoming environment for children to learn and grow. Children do better in school, have less stress, and are improving their English. Diverse cultures are shared and children blossom academically and socially.
ENERGY is successful in great part because of its dedicated leadership and devoted volunteers. High school and college students, young professionals and “seasoned” teachers, newbies and retirees, all represent the diverse group of volunteers that is so vital to our program. We are united in our belief that these students in grades 1-6 from the Buffalo Schools can indeed succeed! Our English Language Learners find the confidence to meet each day knowing that there are people at ENERGY who will guide them through their academic and social challenges. Engaging conversations, patient review and repetition, and lots and lots of reading, help to develop our students’ language skills.
Our “not so new” students come back year after year because — simply put — they like it here! It is not just a longer school day, it’s homework support, it’s creative and critical thinking activities, it’s science, it’s art projects, it’s reading, it’s enrichment, and it’s even a little down home cooking! Kids are immersed in the English language as they explore and learn.
Students who partcipated in the Summer ENERGY Program 2015 met with Mayor Byron Brown.
Our typical day begins when students are bused from their homes to Westminster Church. Once the kids are officially welcomed by volunteers and the aroma of dinner cooking, they gather in the dining room and are served a warm, family style meal which is prepared by volunteer cooks. Sharing a meal with volunteers provides opportunities to talk about the day, discuss current events, learn new vocabulary words, understand cultural concepts, and even squeeze in some hearty laughter! With such a diverse group of students and volunteers, there’s always something unique being discussed! After the meal, 20-30 minutes are dedicated to reading before homework begins. Reading stories to or with the children guarantees that they are intentionally immersed in language.
Homework support comes in many forms at ENERGY. The volunteer to student ratio is outstanding — on most days students in greatest need of language support work on a one-to-one basis, and the other students are typically working on a one-to-two basis. Computers and tablets are also available, to enhance and reinforce student learning.
ENERGY provides a comfortable environment for learning, with ample work space to spread out and lessen distractions. We are always pleased to see the children’s progress throughout the year, but the end of the year brings extra wide smiles to our faces. Measurable growth in all areas, especially reading, convince us that we’re making a difference. The kids work hard, the staff works hard, and it’s difficult to say who benefits the most. Why is ENERGY so successful? It could be the delicious meals ready and waiting after a long day, or the comfy couches, or the safe and secure atmosphere, or maybe, just maybe, it’s the close relationships that develop because of the trust kids have in us and the faith we have in them.
The ENERGY After Program welcomes additional volunteers who can give of their time, talents, and a little piece of their hearts on either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. ENERGY follows the calendar of the Buffalo Public Schools.
The purpose of ENERGY is to create a caring environment where students gain cultural awareness and self confidence through improving their English language skills.
"I am smarter because I come to ENERGY. My grades are better this time on my report card.” - Issa
"I love ENERGY because they help with homework and they teach how to learn." - Elodie
If you are interested in enrolling your child(ren) in the program, please contact us at (716) 507-8216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.