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As the new year gets underway, Co-Op After School (CAS)—a free, accessible after school program offered through a partnership between New Haven’s Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School (Co-Op) and Dwight Hall at Yale—looks forward to another successful semester. In its fifteenth year, the program has grown to serve over half the student body at Co-Op—approximately 350 students—making it one of the largest high school after school programs in Connecticut.
As a part of the Advance pillar of Dwight Hall’s Engage, Grow, and Advance program delivery model, Co-Op After School brings about lasting change in the New Haven community through intergenerational community-building projects.
In fall 2023, CAS saw significant growth and the beginning of many new programs. For instance, in its second year, CAS’s podcasting program partnered with Teen Takeover, a program of Yale’s undergraduate-run WYBCx radio station. CAS students were given the opportunity to apply the podcasting and radio skills they had learned in the previous year under the guidance of Ali Oshinskie, a reporter and writer who works with The Narrative Project and WNPR. The podcasting program was also assisted by several Yale students, including Carmen Lopez Villamil ’25, Sophia Kanga ’25, and Dwight Hall Community Response Fellow and Public School Intern Aden Gonzales ’26.
Paul Bryant Hudson, CAS Program Director, emphasized how impressed he was by the work of the high schoolers in the program. “[Every week] a group of students hop on a bus and go to the WYBCx studio on Broadway to host their own radio shows,” he explained. “They do a great deal of real journalism and education on the history of radio journalism and activism. They workshop and also think through their own political ideas and philosophies and reflect on their own experiences as a group and also individually.”
CAS’s Genders-Sexualities Alliance (GSA) was also very productive in the fall semester. Though the group has always been active, Paul believes this year has been especially eventful. Throughout the fall semester, the GSA held several workshops for the student body and represented Co-Op High School at citywide events. Further, the GSA held a presentation for World AIDS Day that Paul noted as especially powerful, as well as an “Exqueerience” event organized for and by students, offering live music, food painting projects, and karaoke.
These activities were made possible by the increased funding received by CAS. In the past, CAS’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center was underfunded and struggled to meet the needs of its students. In recent years, however, CAS has been awarded funding from the Carolyn Foundation, the Connecticut State Department of Education After-School Grant Program, and the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, some of which has been used to create a new center at a more convenient location at the corner of Crown and Orange Streets.
“[Due to the new location] our students have been able to spend more time there in community,” Paul noted. “They have been planning for the new year and have lots of events and initiatives that are going to be happening this year.”
While plans for spring 2024 are evolving, Paul emphasized that CAS will focus on developing fulfilling end-of-year activities and continuing its work with the larger New Haven community. In particular, Paul hopes to expand the work of CAS’s GSA and LGBTQ+ Resource Center. “I’m looking forward to creating spaces for queer youth,” Paul said. “I’m also looking forward to hosting really meaningful end-of-year events and activities for the LGBTQ+ community at Co-Op and in the city. Our GSA is going to be at the helm of that.”