Three dozen Westbury and Freeport high school students were recently recognized for completing the PROSPER program at The Viscardi Center (TVC) during its annual Moving On Ceremony in Albertson. PROSPER (People Reaching for Opportunities to Succeed Personally, Educationally, and Realistically), headed by Abilities, Inc. at TVC, is a year-long attendance retention program that provides “at-risk” juniors and seniors with fresh, real-world perspectives on education and a chance to explore the vast career opportunities available after graduation.
Barry Tussman, director of Abilities, Inc.’s Youth Transition and Placement Services, touched on the PROSPER program’s steady growth over the years.
“These students have confidence and goals,” Tussman said. “We have served close to one thousand students to date, and I’m very proud of the direction we’re heading in.”
Since PROSPER was launched in 1997, 98 percent of certificate recipients graduated high school and went on to pursue college, employment, the military, vocational training and/or technical school. This year’s batch boosted attendance rates as low as 40 percent to 91 percent while enrolled in the program, and, as a result of PROSPER’s resume development and interview preparation services, 92 percent secured jobs during the year.
PROSPER has established a network of diverse partnerships among local businesses, colleges and universities, high schools and industries, including Adelphi University, Hofstra University, SUNY Old Westbury, Northwell Health and the North Shore Animal League, among others. Through field trips, vocational tours, and one-on-one guidance and mentorship sessions, these entities offer students a realistic glimpse into the local workforce. The Long Island Community Trust Foundation, a nonprofit organization that connects donors with charities, covers funding for weekly tour coordination and student lunches.
“Without PROSPER, I’d never believe I could be a teacher or a pharmacist or even join the military,” said one student, who was awarded a special certificate in recognition of outstanding achievement. “Now I have the confidence to enter the real world with both feet on the ground.”
—Submitted by The
Henry Viscardi School