By Gabriela Resto-Montero
EAST HARLEM — A program designed to give East Harlem kids a head start is in the running for a $500,000 government grant.
The non-profit group Sinergia is hoping for the federal handout for an educational program aimed at low-income students.
It would emulate the hugely successful Harlem Children’s Zone, which serves as a social center providing education, health and pre-college programs to poor families.
"We would try to incorporate some of the other schools in the community to try to identify why the kids lag behind kids who are in more affluent communities," said Myrta Cuadra-Lash, executive director of Sinergia and an author of the grant proposal.
Issues that affect children attending the Children’s Zone, including childhood obesity and high rates of asthma, are also experienced by East Harlem kids, Cuadra-Lash said.
A group of schools that are already working on the project together, including the Esperanza Preparatory Academy pre-school and Global Neighborhood Secondary School, have begun to address some of the challenges that East Harlem students face.
"They've been involved with trying to serve kids to understand what they need, in order to institute a college-bound mentality in the community," Cuadra-Lash said.
The U.S. Department of Education will announce the 20 nationwide winners of the grant September 30.