Newcomer Academy Program

  • Kentucky

About Us

Each school year, some 90 refugees and immigrants from more than 20 countries and representing more than 40 languages join the YMCA Newcomer Academy after-school program.


These students face many staggering challenges in adapting to their new homeland. Many have received little to no formal education, all speak limited English, and most have suffered great loss and trauma. Their families, facing economic and social challenges, can rarely afford to provide school supplies, sports equipment, team fees and transportation so that their children may participate in extracurricular activities and receive much needed academic support outside of the classroom.


The Downtown Family YMCA and the JCPS ESL Newcomer Academy have partnered to create a welcoming, after-school environment for refugee and immigrant children new to the United States. Through academic support and organized sports, the YMCA Newcomer Academy Program helps provide the emotional, academic and physical skills needed to thrive in their new home. YMCA Newcomer Academy provides opportunities for after-school sports, tutoring, counseling and socializing four days a week during the school year. We focus on three basic values: discipline, inclusion and accountability.


Students are encouraged to set short- and long-term academic goals. Staff and volunteers provide tutoring in English, reading and math. Students receive homework assistance and opportunities to practice their English communication skills. We also work to break down cultural stereotypes and encourage them to embrace cross-cultural relationships.


Mental and physical fitness are encouraged and developed through organized sports and other physical health activities like yoga. Boys and girls are given the opportunity to join the program’s competitive soccer teams or participate in other intramural activities such as dance, volleyball, and art.


Program coaches also work closely with school mental health and college readiness staff to ensure that students are not only thriving in their present situation, but are prepared for life after ESL Newcomer Academy.


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