The Keene Family YMCA provides free swim lessons to children who live in Keene Housing. The Y covers 50% of the fees through fundraised dollars and Keene Housing Collaborative covers the other 50%. The goal of the collective it to provide access to swim lessons for children living in low income households. Although the focus is giving children opportunities at the YMCA, we have found that the Kids Collaborative approach is in many ways a two-generation intervention with multiple impacts. Parental involvement is a key component of this model. The Keene Housing Collaborative works with the parents to enroll their children at the YMCA, transport and manage schedules, and ensure that their child attends each activity.

This collective model empowers Keene Housing parents to provide their children with the experiences and activities that children from more well-off households take for granted as part of childhood. Nearly 250 of the students attending Keene Schools live in Keene Housing households. School data for these kids is sobering: they score well below their more affluent peers on standardized tests in math and reading, are absent from school at a much higher rate, and 44% are enrolled in special education – three times the district average of 15%. Positive gains for the students living in Keene Housing households will have a demonstrably positive impact on the school district. The future of the Keene community depends on the ability of the children to grow into productive, healthy, confident and engaged members of the community.