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Our Mission
ASPIRE

The ASPIRE after-school program, located in Norwalk's old Benjamin Franklin School building, works with local middle and high school youth to motivate and educate students through academic engagement, parent education, social skill building, and career exploration. FCA provides transportation for all students during the school year. 

Middle School

The ASPIRE middle school component improves the lives of Norwalk’s middle school youth by enabling their successful transition into high school and increasing their ability to be productive, independent young adults. The program meets five days a week during the school year from 3:00-5:30 pm at Ben Franklin School and is open to Norwalk middle school students who are historically underserved and meet the program criteria. In addition to academic support, the program offers enrichment activities, helps promote character development and reinforces executive functioning skills. 

Transportation is provided from the school to ASPIRE. Fees range from $25-$75 per month.

To meet the program criteria, students must identify as one of the following:

  • Member of a racial or ethnic minority
  • Income eligible for free or reduced lunch
  • Scored below goal in one or more areas of the last recorded SBAC
  • Has an academic challenge that interferes with the learning process (including IEP and 504 plans)
  • Has familial issues that could benefit from the wrap around support of the social service component of our program (including single parent home, mental health diagnosis, etc.)
High School

The ASPIRE high school component provides a continuum of services to Norwalk’s high school youth which focus on academic success, building developmental assets and strengthening supports, which will empower youth to graduate high school and be enrolled in post-secondary education or vocational training. The program runs 12 months a year and is open to those children who completed our middle school component. In addition to tutoring and academic support, the high school component includes parent engagement, case management, social-emotional development, life skill building, and college preparation.

In addition to the regular programming, our High School students have the opportunity to intern with our summer program for middle schoolers. Interested students are guided through the application process as they create resumes and cover letters, interview with staff members, and learn workplace norms like dress codes, clocking in and out for their shifts, and attending staff meetings.

Summer Enrichment

ASPIRE’s six-week summer enrichment program provides structured, goal-directed programming that reduces summer learning loss. The program offers cross-curriculum, theme-based learning that includes academics, cultural immersion, recreation and social-emotional skill building.

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Diego’s Story

Diego’s Story

When Diego and his family came to the U.S. from Guatemala three years ago, he was 10 years old and didn’t speak any English.

Here in the U.S., Diego’s family first began working with FCA’s Child & Family Development program, and staff there referred Diego to the ASPIRE after-school and summer program. There, staff encouraged him to practice his English and translated for his family when they spoke with teachers at the school.

Motivated by ASPIRE’s “All Star” program, where students with top grades earn pizza parties and other rewards, Diego brought his grades up from D’s to straight A’s in his main subjects.

Some of Diego’s best memories come from ASPIRE, from learning to play the ukulele to riding his first rollercoaster. And when he became interested in anime, he was able to take a cartoon drawing elective at ASPIRE.

When COVID-19 made remote learning necessary, Diego was at a disadvantage. He didn’t have internet access from home, and his parents struggled to communicate this need to the school due to the language barrier. To access his schoolwork, Diego walked to a laundromat in the heat, sat in the corner to avoid the other patrons, and spread his work on chairs. Eventually, he spoke up to his ASPIRE teachers.

"It was my last hope, because I had tried a lot of ways to try to fix it. That was really hard," said Diego.

Once the issue was identified, ASPIRE staff worked with the school district to get a solution in place. Now, with internet access at home, Diego can complete his schoolwork in an environment more conducive to learning and avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19.

"We came here to find a better life and support ourselves. ASPIRE made a big impact," said Diego.

Testimonials
“My daughter is more confident in her schoolwork and I can see her overall maturity and push towards independence. ”
— ASPIRE parent
“ASPIRE compliments my daughter’s commitment to school. She knows that if she has a problem, her case manager will be there to support her.”
— ASPIRE parent
“I love the electives because it allowed me to have some fun or try something new after school.”
— ASPIRE student
“I have no words to say thank you for all your help and support for our family, especially for my daughter.”
— ASPIRE parent
“I would recommend aspire to people because they have showed me how to be more responsible with school!”
— ASPIRE student
“For my son, ASPIRE is a very important program. It helps with his homework and giving him a lot of creative activities. It helps him feel seen and cared for. ”
— ASPIRE parent