LOWER EAST SIDE — Parents whose children are enrolled in a Mandarin-language afterschool program are scrambling to find alternate arrangements after finding out it will end next fall, just weeks before school lets out for the summer.
The Shuang Wen Academy Network, the nonprofit that runs the afterschool program at P.S. 184M, the Shuang Wen School, on Cherry Street, told parents it would not return in September because it was financially unsustainable.
The announcement regarding the closure was delayed because the nonprofit was spending time trying to secure the funding to keep it open, executive chairwoman Nancy Wang said.
“I know everyone is really upset. Obviously, it’s definitely justifiable but we absolutely financially cannot sustain this,” she said.
At a school meeting on Wednesday night, frustrated parents pleaded with the nonprofit's leaders to let the program run for at least one more year, saying that they needed time to figure out alternatives for their children.
But members of the nonprofit’s executive board said it was impossible and fiscally irresponsible.
The nonprofit has lost more than $800,000 in the past four years, according to treasurer Tony Wong. If the program continued for one more year, as many parents requested, the organization predicted it would lose another $200,000.
SWAN has not received any money from the city since it lost its Department of Youth and Community Development funding, board members said.
According DYCD spokeswoman Dayana Perez, the city gave the program a total of $1.16 million between the 2006 to 2012 fiscal years. SWAN and Perez could not immediately explain why the nonprofit lost the city funding.
Parents pay $1,200 per child for their kids to receive extra hours of language instruction for the academic year, but the money collected from tuition has not been enough to bridge the shortfall, according to the board.
Efforts to secure outside funding from other nonprofits and companies did not pan out, said Wang and vice chairman Benjamin Rauch.
Parents said they did not realize the severity of the non-profit’s financial troubles and told the board they would’ve been willing to help raise money if they had known it was struggling.
Wang said SWAN had reached out to parents to create a fundraising committee, “but we didn’t get much response.”
Some parents also said they would be willing to pay slightly more in tuition to keep the program running but Wang said the move would decrease enrollment at the school, which serves a large number of low-income students.
“My heart goes out to you — I know that’s not enough, I know that — but we have tried on multiple points to make this sustainable,” Wang said.