Fatu’s Story

At 19, Fatu’s future looks bright. She plans to go to Monroe College in the fall to follow her dream of becoming a lawyer. She’s currently going to school and working full-time as a paralegal at Queens Defenders, which provides free services to low-income people. Not long ago, she was a recipient of those services.

You see, the future did not always look so bright for Fatu. When she came to live in one of SCO’s residences for youth in foster care in 2018, she had had a difficult childhood, and she’d been in trouble with the law.

When Fatu was 12, her mother returned to their native Liberia with her younger brother, leaving Fatu with an abusive family friend in Queens. She eventually ran away, joined a gang and got into trouble.

When she first came to SCO, Fatu was confrontational with staff and other residents. But despite her rocky start at her new home, SCO staff has been behind her since day one. They encouraged her to further her education and pursue her GED. They showed her the right way to do things, and most of all, they showed her they cared.

Fatu’s former Queens Defenders lawyer, Anthony Martone, played a pivotal role in her turnaround. He saw her potential and went the extra mile to help her by initiating an internship program at the firm for past clients who’ve been through the juvenile justice system. Fatu was the first intern and became the first full-time hire from the program.

Fatu is positive, respectful, and focused. She loves her job and it has inspired her to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.

Her turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous, and it serves as an inspiration to other youth. Fatu is living proof of what is possible with a positive attitude, hard work, perseverance, and the help of caring adults who never stop believing in you.

See Fatu’s story in THE CITY.

(Photo: Ben Fractenberg-THE CITY)

Ross’ Story

Ross, a former student at SCO’s Westbrook Preparatory School, is a motivated and engaging young man who has Asperger syndrome. “I’m actually different from many people with Asperger’s in that I’m a very social guy,” says Ross. “On the other hand, sometimes I am unaware of other people’s feelings. I can be impulsive, and I do get overwhelmed. ”

Ross had difficulty adapting at his previous public school due to these challenges. However, Westbrook’s residential school setting gave Ross the opportunity to work on his social skills and develop strategies to help him avoid feeling overwhelmed.

One key element of life at Westbrook is the internship program. While students find comfort and build confidence living and learning with other teens who have similar challenges, they know that they need to prepare themselves to communicate and work well with all kinds of people. Ross’s first internship was at Sports Authority, and he held another at St. Brigid’s Elementary School Camp where he found talking with children about sports very rewarding.

His interest in sports led Ross to his next internship at WCWP 88.1 FM, the college radio station at CW Post. He ran the audio control sound board at sporting events, made guest appearances on a college sports talk show and researched sports information for use on air. He enjoyed his experience so much that he decided to study communications in college.

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SCO at PS 81

After School • Summer Camp

During the pandemic, SCO offers Virtual After School programming for students living in Brooklyn. SCO’s Virtual After School Program at PS 81 offers online homework assistance and weekly instruction in visual arts, theater, STEM, restorative circles, physical fitness and recreation for students in grades K-5. The program allows students to engage in activities that enrich their education, foster their academic achievement, and prepare them for future success. Our online program features live and recorded activities that allow students to participate at their convenience. The After School Program is an essential resource for working families, providing a safe and enriching environment during out-of-school hours. Those interested in in-person services should contact the program director for further information and updates.

Our Summer Camp provides a safe and engaging summer experience, where children can develop academic, creative and artistic abilities through art, music, dance and sports. Our camp equips young people with leadership development, character building, recreation, and academic enrichment, including STEM and literacy programs. On-site activities are combined with cultural, educational and recreational trips throughout New York City. The program is open to students in grades K-5.

Who Can Benefit from this Program

Students at PS 81 and neighboring schools

Age Criteria or Other Eligibility Requirements

Kindergarten-5th grade

How to Access this Program or Service

Contact the program director at 718-602-6082

Success Stories

Fatu’s Story

Changing Her Trajectory

At 19, Fatu’s future looks bright. She plans to go to Monroe College in the fall to follow her dream of becoming a lawyer. Learn More

Ross’ Story

Westbrook Preparatory School

“I’m actually different from many people with Asperger’s in that I’m a very social guy” Learn More

4 out of 5

young adults (21+) at our Residential Treatment Center for youth with developmental disabilities participate in Day Habilitation or are enrolled in school

We help

1,700

children get ready for kindergarten

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