The closings of several West Side schools under Renaissance 2010, including Austin High School, hasn’t hindered local activists’ efforts to provide children with an education.

Community Fellowship Baptist Church, located at 4817 W. Madison, recently opened an after-school tutoring program for students in grades third through eighth. The program, which began in January, convenes every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4:30 in the afternoon to 6:30 in the evening. The program gives students an opportunity to brush up on their reading, math, computer skills and test preparation, particularly for the ISAC, which replaced the Iowa test as the required exam for high school juniors. Each tutor is educated, trained and experienced in their field of assistance.

The program began on Jan. 10. by Rev. Shirley Ewing at the request of several members of her church. Members were looking to enroll their own children in some type of after-school tutoring program.

“We applied for federal funding to support the program last July and finally received it late last December,” said Ewing, who’s also principal of Beildler Elementary School. “The response to the program thus far has been very strong with new people looking to enroll their children everyday.”

The program is located in the apartment space above the church. The program has grown rapidly in just its first four weeks as reading tutor Glenda Ewing explained.

“When we first opened, we tutored in the basement area, but seeing as how we had so many people interested we moved to the second floor,” said Glenda. “The extra space allows us both to welcome more children and have more space to add more computers, which we are looking to do in a few weeks.”

Ewing said that as the tutoring program continues to expand she has looked to hire more tutors to meet the student demand.

“We like the ratio that we have now,” Ewing said. “We have a five-to-one student-teacher ratio which guarantees that no one feels left out.”

Enisha Chester is one of the student participants. The 5th grader attends Edward Coles Elementary.

“I like Glenda a lot because she explains everything very clearly,” said Chester. “She goes over the vocabulary and has us read different pieces to test how well we understand.”

Tony White attends Emerson Elementary. His mother, Regina Brown-White is the program’s math tutor.

“I like to use the computer,” said Tony. “We are now learning the terms like software and hard drive. I like it a lot.”

The program is free of charge. The church also provides healthy snacks. For more information about the program contact The Community Missionary Baptist Church at 773/261-6200.