Volunteers Needed for A Tutoring Program That Melds Academics and Athletics


Photo via JCC.

By Renee Baruch

For 61 years, the nonprofit Riverside Hawks program has taught kids how to play basketball at Riverside Church, on Riverside Drive between 120th and 122nd Streets, and in the process prepared them for higher academic achievement. Children of all ages and from throughout the area come to play basketball on weekends and after school, and along with the fun of playing, receive important help in elementary school in reaching grade-level achievement, and in later years in entering parochial schools, boarding schools and college.

Now JCC Manhattan has joined Riverside Hawks in their efforts to tutor participants during the 90 minutes before practice, and are recruiting volunteers for Tuesday and Sundays.

Riverside Hawks has received a grant from Jay Hatfield’s family foundation that will be used for “computers and software, as well as after-school food, and incentives to augment the program,” said Richard Lerner, a Hawks board member. But the students need human assistance too, and that is where JCC has stepped in to provide volunteers.

Riverside Hawks is well known as one of the premier basketball organizations in the city.  Because of its fame and lengthy existence, former players now bring their own sons and daughters to the program and also provide coaching and mentoring. While a few past players have gone on to the NBA, the true goal of the program is to help kids academically.

JCC’s volunteers will work one on one with students in elementary and middle school at Riverside Church. Judy Gross, the Director of Literacy and Math Programs at JCC, will assure that volunteers are trained and said that “tutoring will be individually tailored to the student, with the objective of bringing the student to grade level for many of the students.”

Gross believes that volunteers will find an opportunity to engage in a very directed and structured way that will meet a real need in the community. The program which is set to begin as soon as possible. Interested volunteers should call Judy Gross at 646-505-4450.

NEWS | 2 comments | permalink
    1. Ron Kapon says:

      Ernie Lorch ran the Riverside Church program for many years. He was a wealthy east sider who supported the program with his time & money. I got involved since the church was near Columbia. After a few months I did not like what I saw with his attitude toward young, mostly African-American youth & left. When the sh** hit the fan Lorch resigned & is no longer with us.
      Mark Jerome resurrected the program & ran it successfully for many years (he too is no longer involved). His son Ty Jerome start at guard for the University of Virginia. I live in the same building as Mark’s parents & have known the family for 40 years.
      I discovered the Jim Couch Foundation (Dyckman Basketball) and met both Jim & Sean Couch. Sean was an all-Ivy league player at Columbia & his Dad Jim Couch was just inducted into the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame. I became a coach & member of their board of directors (still am) and found their program to be both about athletics & academics. http://www.jimcouchfoundation.org.

    2. So happy to hear about the expansion of JCC’s tutoring program! Judy Gross has done an amazing job of supporting students’ academic needs in our community for many years. Hope many more respond to her call for more volunteers.