ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – A local nonprofit is partnering with Rochester Academy Charter School to bring a new program to city youth this summer.

The effort is months in the making to bring needed supports to students outside of school.

Starting this summer, students enrolled with the charter school will have access to after-school care, featuring continued educational and social needs.

Leaders with Cameron Community Ministries say it’s especially vital now to further help bridge the gaps brought on by the pandemic.

Cameron Ministries, based in Rochester’s Lyell-Otis neighborhood, will service around 150 children this summer.

“We’ve worked on this project for about six months. First, just asking if there was a need, and we’ve also been approached by some parents of children who attend Cameron who also attend school here about coming to the school for services,” said Olivia Kassoum-Amadou, executive director of Cameron Community Ministries.

Lybia Moore is among those parents. She also attended Cameron Ministries herself in the 90s. Moore says having a program like this beyond the school year is necessary not only for supervision but also continued education and other supports.

“It would be access to kids staying off the street, having access to food. Food is a barrier for kids during summer. That’s really good for the students and just something to do to stay engaged in academics because a lot of kids fall behind because they don’t have a lot of academic engagement,” said Moore.

The new program brings a handful of new teaching assistants hired by Cameron Ministries.

“It’s such a huge gap that in this summer program or even year-round, we won’t be able to completely fill it but we can work toward that. Our children lost years of school. They lost friendships and socialization. Mental health needs came about. We don’t know exactly everything our kids experienced while they were home, and so we know that we need to address that and begin to work them toward a healing process,” said Kassoum-Amadou.

Cameron Ministries also continues to raise funds to hire additional staff needed at their own campus. Those interested in contributing can find more information on their website.