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Danbury Grassroots Academy

  • Danbury Grassroots Academy
  • 196 Main Street
  • Danbury, CT 06810
  • (203) 797-0500
  • 2006

Program Description

Danbury Grassroots Academy is a free, year round program serving 50 select students, ages 8-18, since 2006. Our mission is to improve the lives of promising, selected students in Danbury emphasizing education, character, tennis, and health. We provide our students with a disciplined and nurturing environment for mentoring, promoting healthy lifestyles, and building self-esteem. The program operates at our 2,500 square foot Main Street center and on Danbury's public tennis courts at Rogers Park. During the winter our highest achieving participants also qualify to play indoor tennis two to three days a week. We have two full time employees, Lauren Dalton (Executive Director) and Lynn Radford (Academic Director), and one part time summer tennis professional. In addition, we have the support of over 40 active, year-round volunteer tutors and tennis pros comprised of National Honor Society students from local high schools, former teachers, WCSU students, and local residents.

We have four primary goals: To stress the critical importance of education; provide the tools necessary to develop character; teach the basics of tennis; and emphasize the value of nutrition and exercise. Specific and long term objectives are to improve report card grades, DRA reading levels, high school graduation rates and establish career paths or college education.

A successful DGA participant will evolve over time to develop skills that demonstrate a strong work ethic. Students will learn to become personally responsible in all areas of their lives, but with a strong focus on their academics. Students will learn to value education, take pride in their academic work and demonstrate a persistence to achieve excellence. In addition, students will develop healthy interpersonal relationships that demonstrate good character traits such as integrity, respect, citizenship and caring for others. A DGA participant will embed wellness into their lives and recognize that good nutrition, exercise and fitness will help to make them happy and healthy.

  • Monday through Thursday: Students in office 2:00-6:00
  • With over 40 active volunteers, all participants receive help with homework, schoolwork, papers, projects, managing their time and studies effectively, and develop individual accountability for their education and growth.
  • Mandatory extra 30-45 minutes of reading out loud daily
  • Mandatory extra math- flash cards, extra work on math concepts they are learning in the classroom, Khan Academy. Moby Max, IXL, Prodigy
  • We check and sign off on homework planners daily
  • Check online grade books weekly or biweekly
  • Extra work on subjects such as geography, penmanship, history, and current events.
  • We collect progress reports and report cards quarterly and are in regular contact with teachers and schools by email and phone to ensure our participants are working up to their capabilities
  • We attend the annual Parent-Teacher conferences in November with our participants parents/guardians.
  • Enrichment Workshops (in additional space next door)
  • Math Facts Practice with Joe- 30 minutes daily, all kids
  • College Prep Workshops and Information Sessions and SAT Prep, bi monthly, high school students
  • SAT Prep- weekly, all high school kids
  • Writing and grammar workshops, weekly, 5th/6th graders, 1x day per week
  • "Girl Power" talks and discussions, monthly
  • School pressure and life stress, one on one sessions, weekly, selected kids
  • Weekly Coding, Programing, & Robotics with Greg- 2x times a week, all kids
  • Yoga with Susie, one day a week, year- round, all kids
  • Art and Creativity with Pam, one day a week, year- round, all kids
  • Dance Classes, 2x days per month, September- June, middle school girls
  • CT School Finance with Erika Haynes- Equity and equality in schools, monthly
  • ASML: Robotics and programming. Our kids are able to work on intellectual curiosity, inquisitiveness, logical reasoning, creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills.
  • Drug and substance abuse prevention, and vaping, with HVCASA, one day a month, 8th- 12 graders
  • Healthy relationships/body image workshops with the Woman's Center, all middle &high school boys & girls
  • Saturday or Sunday: Ice skating with Joe, 2 hours, during the winter and tennis outdoors during spring, rotation of students
  • Field trips- five to six per year, on days of from school, weekends, summer
  • College Fairs, The U.S. Open, Museums, concerts, farms, Green Chimneys, Zoos, and hikes at local parks
  • All are free of charge to our participants.
  • January- DGA Gives Back- All students help makes lunches and dinner for over 100 people at Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen
  • May- Clean City Day- all students required to participate
  • August- A 5K/1 Mile Race, all students must complete it
  • Summer Enrichment Program

    This mandatory program takes place for seven/eight weeks from 9:00-11:00 and 11:30- 1:00 in the office. The program includes an in-house math curriculum specifically developed for each age group as well as a personal Khan Academy account that we monitor. We also partner with the Danbury Public Library's Summer Reading Program and have a mandatory reading requirement of at least 30 minutes per day. In addition, our children work on their summer assignments from school, in house reading logs, penmanship and spelling, a fiscal responsibility program, study skills, and other supplementary work we give them. Our Summer Tennis Program runs from the end of June through the end of August and between 9:00 and 2:30 Monday- Thursday and Fridays from 9:00-1:00. Our students are divided into 2 groups, a 9:00-11:00 group and 11:30-2:30 group. Tennis practice sessions include drills, games, and fitness. In addition, our kids frequently compete against sister Grassroots programs, local clubs, as well as sanctioned tournaments. Tennis is a lifetime sport that teaches countless lessons: integrity, sportsmanship, courage, character, goal setting, discipline, commitment, how to overcome obstacles, problem solving, perseverance, and decision making. The lessons learned and experienced on a tennis court can be assimilated into the classroom, the home, and all aspects of life. Each tennis practice also includes 30 minutes of fitness and exercise.

    Community programs we connect our students with during the school year:

    DECO-Danbury Early College Opportunity:

    Gives DHS (we have 7 in the program) students and opportunity to earn an Associate Degree simultaneously with their high school diploma. The degree program is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) at the high school as part of the program's curriculum. Students begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. They can expect to complete the Associate Degree in four, five or six years. Some courses may take place at NVCC's Danbury campus. All of our 7 DGA students took part in summer courses in 2018.

    Finding Our Way:

    based at WCSU, a year long and hands-on learning program for all of DGA's 6th graders, that gets students involved in the environmental sciences of their surroundings and fosters lifelong interest in protecting our environment. The program provides students with a firm start in recognizing careers in the STEM fields and includes a 2 week summer program, 4 Science Saturdays in the biology labs at WSCU, and major field trips, including an overnight in Virginia's touring a NASA facility participating in scientific activities.

    Ridgefield Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!):

    a "fun and exciting class that guides students through the process of starting their own real business. Students learn about personal potential, leadership skills, budgeting, planning and production." We have had 3 students in the past 2 years participate

    Ms. President U.S.:

    DGA girls attend monthly workshops in Ridgefield and focus on civic engagement, leadership skills, public speaking, diplomacy, government, and women's history. We have had 9 girls participate (5 in 2017-2018 and 4 in 2018-2019

    Services Provided

    • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
    • Arts and cultural
    • Career exploration and counseling/internships
    • College admissions guidance and counseling
    • College fairs/campus visits
    • College transition and retention support
    • Community service/service hours
    • Leadership development
    • Mentoring
    • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
    • Scholarships and last-dollar grants
    • Science, tech, engineering, & math (STEM)


    Education Level and
    Number of Students

    • High School: 50
    • Middle School: 0
    • Elementary School: 0
    • Post-secondary: 0
    • Non-traditional: 0

    Populations Served

    • Academically At-risk


    • Less than 25%

    Colleges Attended
    by Alumni

    • Boston College
    • Central Connecticut State University
    • Earlham College
    • Fairfield University
    • Southern Connecticut State University
    • Western Connecticut State University