SUMMIT, NJ - The Empowering Kids Organization (EKO) celebrated its first anniversary by receiving a $24,000 grant from Summit’s Central Presbyterian Church (CPC), funds that will be used to expand EKO’s English-as-a-second-language afterschool program for Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) students and the program for Summit High School students again next year.

Grateful for the CPC's continued support, EKO is currently working on adjusting its programs to the current situation caused by pandemic.

During last fall and following its mission, EKO began collaborating with local organizations offering three new programs, each a cultural enrichment initiative specifically tailored to include English Language Learners (ELL).  EKO’s 'Fall into Art' 2019 season included:

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IMPROV’ing Students Program

Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre opened its doors to give ELL students the opportunity to participate in two comic improvisation programs.  Younger LCJSMS students participated in an eight-week Improv class to help them develop collaboration, creativity, and public speaking abilities, while, Summit High School students attended a two-day workshop, where they learned how to incorporate important elements of storytelling to express their ideas faster and with confidence. Both programs were funded by the Provident Bank Foundation via a Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre grant.

Outreach Art Program

In partnership with the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, ELL students from LCJSMS and Summit High School participated in an outreach initiative to engage immigrant and native-born linguistic minority students to build English-language skills. By implementing lessons in connection with the Art Center's contemporary art exhibitions, students had the opportunity to repeatedly visit the facility's galleries in order to create art projects based on ideas and themes from current exhibitions, therby providing a valuable experience that deepened their knowledge and understanding of contemporary art while improving their English communication skills. This program was funded by The Summit Foundation (formerly the Summit Area Public Foundation) via a VAC-NJ grant.