Category Archives: Lighthouse

Afterschool Enrichment: More than Homework

What happens when practice, guidance, and positive reinforcement are combined? For students of Volunteers of America’s Lighthouse Afterschool Program, confidence and competencies for future success emerge. Before enrollment in the afterschool program, the letters A – N – D – R – E sat flat on the page for pre-kindergartener Andre of Moton Elementary. As you can imagine Andre was frustrated when he entered school as he was unable to recognize his name, didn’t know how to hold a pencil and could not focus his attention—basic skills his classmates possessed.



For three months, his Lighthouse Program teacher provided additional support and taught Andre the mechanics of writing. Her calm and patient approach also taught him discipline and focus. Now Andre is able to recognize and write his name independently, has developed self-control and confidence, and is thriving in the classroom. The dedicated Lighthouse staff has a personal investment in their students. They believe in their academic potential and challenge them to do their best. To learn more about the Lighthouse Program visit

A Day on the Farm

Growing up in an urban setting often means children lack opportunities for a first-hand experience with agriculture. Yet, providing kids with the chance to see where their food comes from can not only be a new and fun experience, but one that teaches kids the importance of making wiser nutrition choices that can have a big impact.

On Tuesday, June 10th, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans
madeBoy with tomatoes it possible for 30 New Orleans children in our Lighthouse Summer Program to visit Stoney Point Farm in Franklinton, LA. Farm owner Tim Roper gave students a tour while sharing the importance of local farming, and teaching the kids about his farming methods— including how hot peppers are grown and used to make a natural pesticide. The children enjoyed learning about planting and growing chemical-free crops, choosing healthy and fresh foods, raising chickens and honeybees, and more. A highlight of the farm visit was when the children had the opportunity to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables, which were made into a tasty salad to sample. Another of the children’s favorite moments was learning how chickens roost while looking for eggs in the chicken coop.

Stoney Point Farm, a family-owned and operated farm, has partnered with Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans’ Fresh Food Factor program. Dedicating two acres of land to Fresh Food Factor, this partnership supports the “Farm to School” initiative to provide local, organically grown produce for childcare centers, schools and summer camps that participate in the Fresh Food Factor food service program.

This partnership allows Fresh Food Factor to offer produce harvested in-season, at their peak of flavor.

The CDC has identified Farm-to-School programs as an effective means to improve the quality of school meals, enhance effectiveness of nutrition education, and provide opportunities for eco-literacy training of students through hands-on experiences in the outdoors. Farm to school programs support local farmers and economies, and of the farm to school programs that have been evaluated, most have demonstrated increased selection or intake of fruits and vegetables by students following the incorporation of farm produce into school salad bars, meal selections, or class-based education.

“Porgy” Debuts July 21

Students in Volunteers of America’s Lighthouse Summer School Program will be appearing in the DuBose Heyward play “Porgy” at Dillard University’s Cook Performing Arts Center July 21-23.  Students participating in the production are from the charter schools Lighthouse serves (Medard Nelson Charter School, Thurgood Marshall Early College High School, Pierre Capdau Charter School, and Gentilly Terrace Elementary).

This year Lighthouse is teaming with Dillard University Theatre, Tulane University Department of Dance and Theatre, and the New Orleans Recreation Department to host the 2nd annual Introduction to Professional Theater Summer Camp.  Held June 6th through July 29th, this eight week class provides free theater training and experience to New Orleans area youth, ages 8-18.  “Porgy” will be the culminating project of the theater camp.

The New Orleans Opera opened its 2010-2011 season with George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. “Porgy” is the precursor to the Gershwin opera.  “Porgy” was written by DuBose Heyward in 1925.  The story takes place in the black tenements of Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920s and focuses on the life of a crippled beggar named Porgy and his love for Bess.   “Porgy” was the first Broadway production to depict a realistic version of black life.  The play opened on Broadway in 1927 and was a great success, running for 367 performances.  This is the first time “Porgy” has been performed in New Orleans.

The Professional Theatre Summer Camp continues Lighthouse’s mission to provide character-building, academic support, and cultural enrichment for at-risk youth in New Orleans.

“Porgy” will be presented at the Samuel DuBois Cook Performing Arts Center at Dillard University on Thursday, July 21 through Saturday, July 23 at 8:00 p.m.  Two matinees will be presented for the benefit of summer youth programs.  Ticket prices are $17.50 for the general public, $12.50 for seniors and students.  Summer Camp Kids matinee tickets are $5.00 for students and their escorts.  Samuel DuBois Cook Performing Arts Center is located at 2601 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70122.

For more information please call director Ed Bishop at (504) 459-9445, or the Samuel DuBois Cook Performing Arts Center at (504) 816-4857.

Lighthouse Play Featured on WGNO!

Volunteers of America’s Lighthouse Program was recently showcased on WGNO. Some of the students participated in a performance of “The Wiz”, which ran from 7/31-8/1 at Dillard University. WGNO’s Chriss Knight covered the event for her morning news segment. Check out this video below to see our Lighthouse kids talk about putting together the play.

The Lighthouse After School program provides after school and summer programs for pre-adolescent children and their families to promote academic achievement and good moral character.

Announcing Upcoming Lighthouse Productions

Announcing productions of “The Brick and the Rose” and “The Wiz”, presented by students from our Lighthouse After School Program in partnership with the American Theatre Project. “The Brick and the Rose” runs next weekend, July 29-31, at Tulane University’s Lupin Theatre (corner of Audubon and Zimpel in New Orleans). Plays start 8:00 nightly.

“The Wiz” is hosted by Dillard University and will run July 31 and August 1 with two showings per day at 2:30 and 7:30.

The Lighthouse After School program provides after school and summer programs for pre-adolescent children and their families to promote academic achievement and good moral character.

Summer Fun at Lighthouse

The Lighthouse After School Program has big plans in store for its summer program, running from 6/17 through 7/16. First on the agenda is improving students’ LEAP (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) test scores – The Lighthouse Program will be running a remedial LEAP course beginning June 2 for the June 28 re-test.

The main offerings of the program will be offered at Lighthouse’s four schools – Thurgood Marshall High, Gentilly Terrace, Medard Nelson, and Pierre Capdau. This year, however, Capdau’s program will be incorporated into Gentilly Terrace’s as the school is currently seeking a new location. Each school will host 100-125 students (with the exception of Gentilly, which will host ~250 students after its integration with Capdau) and offer activities including, but not limited to: dance instruction, African drumming, karate lessons, swimming lessons, athletics (soccer and tennis are brand new as of this year) and a chess league.

Two featured programs for this year that the Lighthouse Program leaders are especially excited for are the Uptown Music Theater and Fresh Voices. The Uptown Music Theater, a collaboration with the Marsalis family, will work towards putting on a production of “The Wiz”. Various artists will assist the Lighthouse kids in setting up and putting on the production, which will be presented at the La Petit Theater at the end of camp.

Fresh Voices, a collaboration with Century 21 and the American Theater Project, allows Lighthouse kids to write and produce their own plays based on personal experiences living in the inner city. The program will primarily focus on the work created by students from Thurgood Marshall High School, but will also incorporate other innercity children who want to express their experiences. The program is tuition-free and still accepting applications; if you or if you know of someone who is interested, call Ed Bishop at Thurgood Marshall High School, 504-361-4627 (or e-mail him at to set up an appointment. Like the Uptown Music Theater, the program will culminate in a production at the end of camp at a to-be-named venue (stay tuned!).

Other Lighthouse projects in the works include setting up a community center, which, as Kevin Scott, Program Coordinator for Lighthouse, says: “It’s all part of helping not only the children [in the program] but their families as well”.

Stay tuned…it promises to be an interesting and productive summer for our Lighthouse program.

Lighthouse Kids Learning 12 Months out of the Year

Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans’ Lighthouse program helps more than 400 at-risk youth through a partnership with the University of New Orleans Charter School Network. The Lighthouse offers character-building, help with academics and enrichment at these UNO Charter Network schools: Pierre A. Capdau Charter School, Gentilly Terrace Elementary, Medard H. Nelson Charter School, and Thurgood Marshall Early College High School.

Our goals are to boost academic achievement, character building and social interaction with caring adults. The vision of the Lighthouse is clear – children will achieve when goals are set with high expectations, and the adults who care for them are committed to their academic and social development.

Lighthouse leaders expose the kids to a multitude of cultural enrichment and academic activities. We don’t stop there. Our ambition is to serve the needs of the entire family through academic enrichment, cultural, social, health, and nutritional services – making learning essential to their lives.

The Lighthouse believes that if we teach our children the skills they need to make positive choices and acquire good academic skills, they will grow into responsible, self-supporting adults.

Since the story destroyed its Ninth Ward headquarters, the Lighthouse, one of Volunteers of America’s most popular and effective programs, has been rebuilding through partnerships with local charter schools. Here are the qualities the program instills in students:

– Trustworthiness

– Honesty

– Citizenship

– Caring

– Responsibility

– Respect

– Discipline

Lighthouse Kids’ After-School, Summer Program Outcomes

– 90% showed an improvement in their grades

– 100% matriculated to the next level

– 70% improved on the LEAP test’s language arts and math components

– 100% had no interaction with the juvenile justice or school disciplinary systems.

Click here to read a Lighthouse success story.

For more info on the program, or to to get involved, visit our website at: