IMANI Fall Programs are in Full Swing

December 1, 2010 – From literature circles to peer support, study groups and one-on-one mentoring through the college application process, our 2010-2011 academic support programs for students in grades K through 12 are up and running throughout the Montclair School District.

Mini IMANI Literature Circles for students in Grades K-5 meet two Sundays per month in the afternoon from 3:30 to 4:30 PM at the new Charles H. Bullock School on Washington Street. Grouped by age level into discussion groups led by parent facilitators, the students read age-appropriate, culturally relevant books and participate in fun activities that help develop a love of reading, storytelling and literature. Visits from local authors give students the opportunity to learn more about the books they are reading. This fall, Mini IMANI coordinators Denise Ford Sawadago and Rodney Creech arranged for Tracey Baptiste to come read from Angel’s Grace, her middle grade coming of age novel about a 13 year-old girl from Brooklyn who spends the summer with her grandmother in Trinidad.

Registration is now open for Spring 2011 Mini IMANI Literature Circles, which run from January to May. The program fee is $20 for 1 child and $25 for 2 or more children from same family. To enroll your child/ren, download the registration form.

Middle IMANI, a mentoring program for African American boys in Grades 6-10, brings together students from Montclair’s three middle schools for a weekly study session reinforcing language arts and literacy skills. The program is designed to support young men of color and keep them focused on academics as they navigate the critical transition between middle school and high school. Social interaction is an essential component of Middle IMANI, leading to the development of a peer support system that enhances self esteem and fosters greater interest in schoolwork and related activities.

Program facilitator Takeem Dean has been instrumental in organizing a Middle IMANI leadership initiative in partnership with Montclair State University. Eventually, the boys will attend weekly meetings on the MSU campus but for now, mentors are invited to the Glenfield School to meet with the boys and help motivate them to stay on track. Dean recently orchestrated a surprise visit from Rahfeal Gordon, a dynamic young entrepreneur who had graduated from the EOF program at Montclair State University. Describing the struggles he had overcome growing up homeless in Newark, Gordon spoke passionately about the importance of staying in school and getting a good education. Middle IMANI is offered at no cost to participants, who are referred by their teachers and guidance counselors. If your child has been recommended for this program, please complete the application form.

IMANI Study Groups for students in Grades 9-12 began meeting at the end of October. The groups meet on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 PM at the Montclair Public Library. As of January 30th, 2011, study groups will meet at the IMANI Program Center. Students who need help with Math, English, Science, and/or History meet in small groups of 5-8 to work with their peers and certified teachers. Students may sign up for 1 or 2 study groups each Sunday. A nominal fee of $100 covers registration for an entire session. There are 3 sessions during the school year. Each session includes eight study group meetings, and students may enroll at any time.

Spaces are still available for the Winter session, which runs until March 13, 2011. New students who wish to join a study group should come to the IMANI Program Center on Sunday afternoons between 1:30 and 2:00 pm to register.

The IMANI College Advocacy Center has been a hotbed of activity since the beginning of September when Montclair High School seniors started coming in for assistance with their college applications. To date, 65 MHS seniors have taken advantage of the counseling and coaching provided by IMANI staff and volunteers to complete applications to state universities and private colleges that offer early action and priority admissions. Students are continuing to set up appointments and begin the process of working with our trained mentors and essay coaches to research and refine their college lists and write application essays and personal statements.

Now in its 7th year, the IMANI College Advocacy Center has helped hundreds of minority students gain admission to college, with the majority enrolling in 4-year colleges and universities. More than 75% of these students were the first in the families to attend college, and were admitted to their first choice school.

To better serve the growing number of students and families who seek assistance from the College Advocacy Center, IMANI recently expanded its facilities on the second floor of St. Luke’s Church at 73 South Fullerton Avenue in Montclair, adding computer work stations, private meeting areas, and a “snack room”. IMANI executive director JoAnn McCullough reports that these improvements are having a positive impact. “Now that we have a more comfortable and user-friendly space, students are coming in more often and staying longer,” says McCullough. “We have responded by extending the center’s hours on weeknights to meet the increased demand for our services.”

With regular admission deadlines fast approaching, McCullough urges students who have not yet started on their applications—or need help at any point in the college search or admissions process—to call or come by the College Advocacy Center. The Center’s services are provided free of charge to all Montclair High School students.

For more information about IMANI programs and services, please call (973) 509-2822 or email