I am an African American male who lives in Dorchester, and I am writing this letter in regard to how the state chooses recipients of aid for after-school programs. I have been operating an after-school program at the Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester for three school years. I have all the legal licenses and all paperwork in order. The only thing I don’t have is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt number. Each year I am denied, getting little more than a “Keep up the good work, but we have no funding.” Well, where is all the funding for after-school programs going, and how do you qualify?
I run an academic after-school program called Save Another Youth Taekwondo (SAY-T) Inc. We are nonprofit, and I am the founder and chief instructor. We provide students with homework help and tutoring for an hour, and then I teach them self-defense. We focus on discipline and the development of the whole child.
I have about 45 students whose parents pay according to their income, and about 10 of those students attend for free. The highest-paying parent pays $25 a week for after-school services; some pay as low as $10 per week. I fear that without funding aid, I will not be able to continue providing these valuable services.
We are in need of help. These parents can not afford to pay regular prices for after-school services — that’s why they turned to me, along with the fact that I have a good success rate of helping children overcome obstacles in life. We need the public to know that we exist and need help. I cannot continue without help.