LEWISTON – A year after educators and community leaders toured a New York City program run by the Harlem Children’s Zone, they’re about to unveil recommendations for Lewiston to begin taking aim at childhood poverty by focusing first on the city’s youngest residents.

Lewiston Mayor Mark Cayer addresses the Lewiston Subcommittee on Poverty during a recent Zoom session. Video screenshot

The 15-member Lewiston Subcommittee on Poverty has been working since early 2019 to outline the problem, examine ways to address it and suggest a course to help break the cycle of poverty.

Created by the Lewiston School Committee, the subcommittee was told to “assess and adapt the Harlem Children’s Zone to Lewiston” by working with community partners to find a way “to reduce the impact of poverty on student success.”

Members of the poverty panel will present their findings at Monday’s school committee meeting, which is being held virtually at 5:30 p.m. It can be viewed one by anyone via a link at lewistonpublicschools.org.

In January 2020, most of the poverty panel’s members took a trip to Harlem to see for themselves what the well-regarded effort there is doing to address poverty and get ideas for what might be possible in Lewiston.

Delegates from Lewiston pose with a banner during a visit to the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City in January. The group explored how to tackle generational poverty in hopes of finding ideas to bring home to Maine. Steve Collins/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

After that, its members decided to focus on trying to help children under the age of 6 in the hope that giving them more assistance would translate into greater educational success. They said making sure youngsters are ready to learn when they begin kindergarten is a key step toward brighter futures.

The report lays out in more detail what the committee found and what it hopes will come next.

The School Committee, after hearing the report, is expected to consider whether it wants to continue to be a partner in the endeavor.

The presentation is anticipated to last about an hour. It will begin after the public comment period at the beginning of the committee’s regular meeting.

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