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Free summer programs for pre-teens and teens
published June 4, 2013
The Center for Leadership and College Preparation, affiliated with Bank Street College of Education, offers educational opportunities both to high-achieving students and to struggling students. The program serves kids in 5th-12th grades, giving them access to a wide range of academic resources, college prep classes, counseling, mentoring and activities, as well as individual attention and support. Students are admitted in the 5th, 7th and 9th grades.
College Now is designed to prepare New York City’s public high school students for college. In most cases, a public high school teams up with one or more of the 17 City University of New York (CUNY) colleges. The program offers eligible students a number of ways to improve their high school performance and get a head start on college. College Now offers academic courses, campus-based tours and cultural events, and scholarships.
The Double Discovery Center at Columbia University houses two educational programs serving low-income and first-generation college-bound students: Talent Search is a career and college counseling program for students in 7th to 12th grades, and Upward Bound is an intensive, year-round college preparatory program for high school students who have been underperforming. New applicants to Upward Bound must be in 9th or 10th grade.
Harlem Education Activities Fund (HEAF) offers intensive academic enrichment courses, test preparation, and social and personal development activities for students after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. The goal is to assist college-bound students from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged communities in developing intellectual and life skills. Programs are specific to middle and high school students.
Monroe College Jumpstart allows high school juniors and seniors to earn three college credits for free. In a 15-week course, the students study with professors in a college setting and earn credits. Courses are offered in accounting, business, criminal justice, culinary arts, allied health professions, hotel and restaurant management, marketing, web design and information technology. Students who complete the program are eligible for freshman scholarships if they choose to matriculate to Monroe for college, and the credits are transferable for students who go elsewhere.
The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains student leaders from public high schools to form multicultural teams called “posses.” These teams are then prepared, through an eight-month pre-collegiate training program, for enrollment at top-tier universities and colleges nationwide. The Posse Foundation has placed 1,850 students into colleges and universities during the past two decades.
Summer on the Hill at Horace Mann is an enrichment program for academically talented public school students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Students start in the 2nd grade and continue until placed in high school, participating in Saturday-morning classes during the school year and a six-week summer session. They study language arts, math and science, and learn study skills. Summer programs include fine arts, recreation and an overnight trip to the John Dorr Nature Laboratory in Connecticut. Summer on the Hill continues to offer support through 12th grade.
The TEAK Fellowship supports students seeking to gain admissions to top high schools and colleges. Students who are citizens or permanent residents, have proof of financial need and have scored above 90 percent on tests and in class may apply by October of their 6th-grade year. The program runs from the summer after 6th grade until college placement. Only 30 students are accepted each year.
Cooper Union Research Internship allows high school sophomores and juniors to work in teams on applied research projects guided by Cooper Union undergraduate teaching assistants and mentored by faculty. The program covers civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical, biomedical and environmental engineering and mathematics, chemistry, physics and astronomy. There are lectures, discussions and a series of workshops on oral presentations, technical writing, career choices and college admissions. Each group presents its work to an invited audience. Sophomores may also elect to participate in a second internship at the end of their junior year.
The Development School for Youth introduces students to the worlds of finance, culture, communications and other leading industries through a series of 16 weekly workshops led by senior executives from some of New York City’s leading corporations and law firms. Students, who must be at least 16, also learn public speaking and how to dress for success and write a résumé. All students who graduate from the program are placed in paid summer internships provided by sponsoring companies.
Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) at Weill Cornell Medical College exposes high school sophomores and juniors to science-related activities. HPREP also teaches students about specific career fields and the steps needed to become a physician or other health-care provider. The 10-week program for 10th- and 11th-grade high school students features lectures by physicians, health-care professionals and medical students from minority groups and small group workshops. Participants are also required to submit a short research paper on a preapproved subject at the conclusion of the program.
Math and Science for Minority Students (MS)2 is a summer program in Andover, Mass., at the Phillips Academy preparatory school. Open to black, Latino and Native American students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the (MS)2 program spans three consecutive summers. Students apply in 9th grade and begin the program the following summer. The program helps put students on track for possible careers in engineering, science, medicine, computer technology and other technical fields.
Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, a nonprofit group based in Brooklyn, offers an employment training and GED preparation program as well as a paid internship program for young people ages 17 to 21. The Youth Employment Training Program provides courses in English, math, computer training and GED preparation. The Opportunity Knocks program provides five weeks of business skills training before matching participants with an 11-week paid internship. Students must be 18 before June of the year they take part.
NASA PREP, a six-week program held at Capitol College in Maryland, is designed to strengthen the academic, study and interpersonal skills of minority students interested in careers in computer science or astronautical, computer, electrical or software engineering. The program includes field trips to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and cultural trips to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Admission is limited to eight high school juniors and seniors, with preference to graduating seniors. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have completed two years of algebra, one year of trigonometry and three years of a laboratory science, have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 and at least a 500 in the math section of the SAT. Students who complete the program may qualify for a scholarship to Capitol College.
Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) is a Saturday Discovery program that helps 9th- to 12th-graders in math, science and technology. Students explore math, science and technology careers; visit college campuses; and prepare and present reports of scientific explorations. Many colleges and universities throughout the city and state host a STEP program, often with their own particular area of focus, and students apply separately to each program. STEP is funded by the New York State Department of Education, and parents are expected to attend at least four meetings during the year and are welcome to attend trips. The program begins in October and ends in May.
Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) works with motivated youth to help them develop throughout high school, college and their careers. The organization provides services through three major programs: the Career Program, the Scholars Program, and Alumni and Philanthropy Programs.
Project Art is an after-school, weekend and summer visual arts education program that invites art students to explore art in a bold and unique way. The program unites young artists with practicing professional and resident artists from around the world. At the end of the summer term and the school year, project-based student works are displayed in New York City and around the world.
Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and its regional affiliates reach out to schools across the nation to identify accomplished artists and writers in grades 7-12. About 1,000 students earn national awards, including more than $1.5 million in scholarships. Student work is exhibited, published and presented to a national audience.
Cooper-Hewitt’s Lehman Scholars program for 11th- and 12th-graders introduces students to the fundamentals of design through hands-on workshops and internships with design professionals. The program includes portfolio reviews plus studio and college visits to local and out-of-state schools. Juniors receive a stipend of $750 and seniors $1,500.
CUNY Creative Arts Team (CAT) Youth Theatre creates original productions from the ideas of its members. They aim to amplify the collective voice of the group while creating social and culturally relevant theater of the highest possible standard.
High 5 is dedicated to making the arts affordable for teens by offering $5 tickets to hundreds of dance, music, theater, film, museum and spoken-word events. Its Teen Reviewers and Critics Program (TRaC) includes weekly seminars and attendance at performances where kids learn how to evaluate and write about what they see.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a program of free classes held after school and on weekends. Hgh school students study original works of art with museum instructors. Seniors attending New York City high schools may apply for a paid Saturday internship. Interns work behind the scenes, meet members of the museum staff and participate in gallery, studio and museum learning projects.
MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) offers several programs for high schools students: MoMA After School encourages high school students’ active engagement with works of modern and contemporary art. Students participate in studio projects, conversations and debates with peers and museum staff, while learning about careers and practices within the visual arts. All programs are free, and MoMA provides the supplies and materials. In the Making: Summer at MoMA is a six-week summer art-making program for high school students. Students participate in studio activities as well as conversations with artists and MoMA staff, field trips, special tours of the museum’s collection, writing exercises and art instruction by MoMA educators. Student artwork is shown in a small culminating exhibit. Tenth- to 12th-graders may apply, and there is no need for previous art experience. The MoMA high school summer internship is a six-week paid program that exposes high school students to museum work and practical job skills. In addition to their work in a museum department, students attend lectures by museum staff and visit other arts organizations. There is limited space, with preference to students who have prior museum or administrative experience. Open to students of New York City public high schools who will be entering 11th or 12th grade in fall or who have recently graduated.
The Summer Arts Institute is a tuition-free, intensive, four-week arts program for New York City public school students entering 8th-12th grade, held at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High Schoolin Queens. Students major in dance, theater, vocal music, instrumental music, visual art, film or photography. Admission is by application and audition.
Urban Word provides free and uncensored writing and performance opportunities to youth in all five boroughs of New York City. The workshops are designed to develop critical thinking and leadership skills and to ignite a personal commitment to growth and learning, which leads to heightened in-school performance and a greater interest in pursuing higher education.
Wingspan Arts offers a tuition-free Summer Theater Conservatory for incoming 7th- to 12th-graders. Current 6th- to 11th-graders should log on to the website for information and application. Auditions are held in January and February. High school students put on a play and a musical; middle schoolers write and produce an original work.
Math and science
The American Museum for Natural History offers more than 40 free after-school courses for high school students. Topics range from space exploration to the microscopic world of DNA and include classes in biodiversity, earth science, anthropology, genetics and astronomy. Each course lasts for a five-week session, and classes, which are held once or twice a week, usually include a field trip. The museum also offers scholarships and other programs for New York City students.
The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a highly selective program for high school students with exceptional talent in math and science. Acceptance is based upon recommendations, grades and a three-hour examination. Students attend Saturday-morning classes at Columbia throughout the academic year. Instructors are math and science researchers at the university.
ExploraVision encourages kids to create and explore a vision of future technology. Students work in small groups, along with a team coach and an optional mentor, simulating research and development teams. Students compete in regional competitions, and the top 24 teams go to a national competition. Prizes include up to $10,000 in savings bonds.
Goddard Summer Institute of Robotics (SIR), for 9th- to 12th-grade high school students, is a two-week residential program at Morgan State University in Baltimore and is hosted in conjunction with NASA. SIR explores the science and technology of robot design and operation and is for urban high school students with an interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Goddard Space Flight Center High School Internships offer a variety of opportunities for high school students, including recent graduates, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland or at their other locations, including the New York City Research Initiative.
MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Science) is a rigorous six-week residential, academic enrichment summer program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for promising high school juniors. This program stresses the value of pursuing advanced technical degrees and careers. Members of all races and ethnicities are considered, but priority is given to students who must overcome significant odds to pursue their dream of becoming an engineer or scientist.
New York Hall of Science in Queens offers free admission September through June on Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 to 11 a.m.
The New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF) is the city’s largest high school research competition. Each year, more than 1,000 high school students from New York City present their research projects to a panel of judges and compete for a variety of prizes. The NYCSEF is an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair-affiliated regional fair.
Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and its regional affiliates reach out to schools across the nation to identify accomplished artists and writers in grades 7-12. About 1,000 students earn national awards, including more than $1.5 million dollars in scholarships. Student work is exhibited, published and presented to a national audience.
Creative Communication sponsors essay- and poetry-writing contests for students in grades 4-12. Students compete against their peers in both age and location, and winners share more than $70,000 in prizes. Selected entries are published in a hard-bound anthology.
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest looks for original essays written by high school students about an elected official who has demonstrated political courage by choosing to do what is right rather than what is expedient. Winning essayists receive awards totaling up to $8,500. The first-place winner is invited to accept the award at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. To encourage student leadership and civic engagement, the nominating teacher of the first-place winner receives a John F. Kennedy Public Service Grant for $500.
The National Peace Essay Contest promotes serious discussion among high school students, teachers and national leaders about international peace and conflict resolution. Contest topics include national and international conflicts. College scholarship awards of $1,000 are granted to a winner in each state, and the writers of the top three essays nationally will receive scholarships of $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. All state winners are invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony.
History, politics and journalism
Children’s PressLine produces journalistic stories created by students ages 8 to 18. Students act as reporters and editors and learn to conduct research, interview and edit.
The Educational Video Center offers several documentary film programs for New York City public high school students. These projects are academically rigorous and socially relevant, geared to impact not just the students but also their communities.
HarlemLive is an award-winning, critically acclaimed web magazine produced by teens from throughout New York City. It is a journalism, technology and leadership program that teaches students ages 13-21 how to run an online newspaper. The publication includes news articles, investigative stories, opinion pieces, personal essays, poetry, photography and video documentaries. The students organize events, conduct workshops and sit on panels, improving their networking and public-speaking skills.
Model New York City Council gives high school students the opportunity to step into the shoes of a New York City councilperson and experience city government from the inside. During four intensive Saturday sessions, CUNY faculty mentors will guide students through the ins and outs of political representation, the legislative process and what it means to be an active member of city government. The students then put their knowledge and experience to use as they debate and vote on a piece of legislation during a “stated meeting” in the Council’s actual chambers in City Hall. This is a College Now program, so students must first apply to College Now.
The New York City Urban Debate League is the city's largest scholastic debate organization providing free tournaments, resources for debaters, debate teachers and coaches, and comprehensive debate education to all New York City schools and students.
The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) is modeled after similar Linguistics Olympiads held in Eastern Europe. In these events middle and high school students learn to solve linguistic problems from dozens of the world’s languages. In the process, they learn about the richness and diversity of language and exercise natural logic and reasoning abilities. No prior knowledge of particular languages or linguistics is necessary.
Schomburg Center’s Junior Scholars Program for ages 11-17 offers a Saturday school geared toward students of African descent. Its primary goal is to ground young people in the histories and cultures of the African Diaspora. The program is an intensive, 26-week series of Saturday sessions, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Junior Scholars have access to resources at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. For applications or more information, contact Deirdre Hollman at 212-491-2234.
Teens Take the City is a program of the YMCA of Greater New York through which 500 teens from all backgrounds get involved in local government, civics and politics. The program is partly supported by the New York City Council, and each council member can nominate five students to participate.
The Collectors Club of New York sponsors a free Youth Stamp Club with monthly meetings for kids in grades 4 and up. The program welcomes experienced stamp collectors and introduces beginners to a hobby that also teaches about history, geography, famous people and events. Sessions are held beginning in September on Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m.
The Urban Journalism Workshop at New York University is designed to encourage teens to consider a career in journalism. Twenty high school juniors and seniors from the New York City metropolitan area (the five boroughs of NYC in addition to New Jersey, Connecticut and Westchester) are selected to spend 10 days attending an intensive, rigorous journalism course at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute's new state of the art facilities in Cooper Square.
The Boys’ Club of New York welcomes 6- to 20-year-old boys and charges less than a dollar a year to participate in computer classes, attend summer camp, get homework help and receive dental services. The club has a location in Flushing (Queens) and two in Manhattan.
HomeworkNYC.org is a website run by the public libraries. The site is designed specifically to help students in grades K-12 in every area of the New York City schools curriculum and offers live, online assistance. Students and parents can also search for information on a variety of topics. The library site is also affiliated with the teacher’s union Dial-A-Teacher, a helpline that allows students and parents to talk directly with a city teacher Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.: 212-777-3380.
The Liberty Leads program at Bank Street College provides support to 5th- to 12th-graders six days a week for 11 months. Students have access to a wide range of academic resources, college prep classes, counseling and enrichment activities.
The Garden Apprentice Program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden provides students in grades 8-12 with training and volunteer placements focused on gardening, environmental issues, science, leadership and career skills. Apprentices become an important part of the garden’s education department.
The New York Botanical Garden’s Explainer Program accepts middle and high school students between the ages of 13 and 17 who enjoy the outdoors and want to learn about plants, nature and science. The program offers the opportunity to learn about plants, develop new skills and receive personal mentoring. Explainers also help younger children who visit the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden.
At MillionTreesNYC students and families can participate in citywide volunteer tree-planting and tree-care workshops. The program is a public-private initiative launched by the City of New York Parks Department and New York Restoration Project with the goal of planting a million new trees across all five boroughs over the next decade.
Summer Internship Program at the Apollo Theater
The Apollo Theater Academy Summer Internship Program provides high school students preparing to enter their senior year with opportunities for professional and personal development as they explore administrative and managerial careers in the performing arts and entertainment industries. Learn more »