Foundation pivots around pandemic, continues commitment to youth

New YorkBusinessEducationCommunity
Collaborator: Renae Morgan
Published: 02/14/2022, 3:55 PM
Edited: 02/14/2022, 5:13 PM

Photo Courtesy: Dorson Community Foundation

(EAST ORANGE, N.J.) Maximizing the potential of high school students from Essex County has been the driving force behind Dorson Community Foundation since 1992. 

With that focus in mind, they continue to provide underprivileged youths with career training, college preparedness, and the means to channel their creativity. 

The Purpose Behind the Program

Natasha Scott, Executive Director for Dorson Community Foundation, reflects on what inspired her mother to develop the community program. 

“Her first business is a home care agency called Dorson Home Care," Scott said. "Most of her workers are Home Health Aides who also happen to be immigrant women who were mostly single mothers. My mother wanted to provide enrichment for the children of these women to have a safe place to go because she was aware of how difficult it is to be a single mother in a new country. So, that was initially the purpose behind the program before it expanded into a college and career readiness program.” 

While there was some shifting with some of the programs since Scott stepped into her leadership role in 2019, the main goal of the overall program remains centered on guiding high school students into the next phase of their lives. 


“We are here to help high school students develop a strong sense of character, while helping them with the process of figuring out what they want to do after high school,” Scott said. 

Benefits of Youth Programs 

Scott shed some light on a specific program that is geared towards providing support for their students. 

“Our Dorson scholar’s program includes a cohort of twenty students who have been with us since they were freshmen in high school and now, they are juniors,” she said. “We provide wrap-around support for them. They do college readiness classes every other Tuesday, career development classes every other Saturday, as well as being involved in community service. In addition to these programs, we also provide emotional and social support for them.”

However, Scott is not alone in highlighting the benefits of Youth Community programs.

In fact, a survey published by the Journal of Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning shows that youth who participate in after-school programs improve significantly in three areas: their feelings, behavior and academic performance.

The Impact of Covid 

Scott said the Coronavirus forced the program to change from in-person to virtual learning. 

“All of last year was done virtually, which was definitely a struggle internally for our operations," Scott said. "But it also had a huge impact on our students' social and emotional health due to the fact that they were locked in for virtual learning at school and then for Dorson online, as well." 

Despite the challenges the organization faced, there were some positive outcomes as well. 

“We ended up instituting a program called Reflect and Connect, which is basically our advising model. All twenty of our students were assigned an advisor that checks in with them either individually or in small groups to facilitate their emotional well-being,” Scott shares.

More information on how to get involved with this non-profit program is available on the Dorson Community Foundation website


Ann Marie Worthley
02/15/2022, 7:47 PM

Great story!!