Community program helps young Somalis connect after school

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A local afterschool program is connecting Somali youth with fellow first-generation immigrants.

Somali Community Link is a nonprofit working to help refugees and immigrants with advocacy, education, employment, and housing needs in central Ohio. One of the ways the organization does this is through its afterschool program, which is in the heart of Linden to provide easy access for children in need.

The afterschool program allows Somali youth to receive individual academic tutoring and mentoring from fellow first-generation Somali Americans.

“It’s important for kids to see fellow first generation Somali Americans because they know exactly what each other is facing, and can alleviate some of the burdens and barriers for academic success,” Columbus City Councilmember Nancy Day-Achauer said.

Day-Achauer said that children need someone who can help them with their homework and that some Somali Americans may not always have that readily available. She said insufficient funding from the state is one reason for this.

Mentors perform mental health check-ins in addition to tutoring, Day-Achauer said. She said the mentors can help with this through their shared experiences.

“They’re navigating a new school culture that their family is not familiar with,” Day-Achauer said. “But they still also have to ensure respect for their home culture.”

The afterschool program has assisted 2,800 immigrant children across central Ohio, according to Somali Community Link’s website. Day-Achauer said the afterschool program is not limited to a specific school district and is primarily targeted at middle school aged children, but that the nonprofit has programming for preschool aged children too.

On Monday, the council voted to approve a $100,000 grant agreement with Somali Community Link to support the afterschool program. Day-Achauer selected the funding as one of her amendments to the 2024 Operating Budget.

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