ULSA is an educational program of the Universal Community Improvement Organization, a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization.
OUR SERVICE ASPIRATIONS
ULSA emphasizes the importance of academics, dance, the arts, social skills and values in shaping the lives of our children. Our goal is to be a leader in our community in providing programs that promote excellence in academics and the arts. Our staff, volunteers and community partners work together to accomplish our goals and promote the values and vision that we embrace.
Loving, Nurturing and Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders
We aim to enhance, enrich and promote success among school-age children through the promotion of safe, healthy lifestyles, exploration of the performing arts, academic tutoring, stimulation of leadership skills, promotion of social graces, reducing 'at-risk' behavior, mentoring, encouragement of a “values-based worldview” and recreation. Our mission is rooted in the Judeo-Christian vision of serving and loving people and worshipping God as the highest aspirations of human live.
The Universal Leadership & STEAM Academy (ULSA), formerly known as ULASA, has been servicing the youth in our community since 2009. It was developed as a youth program of the Universal Community Improvement Organization, a non-profit, 501 c 3, business that was formed in 2009 by Universal Outreach Church as a community ministry project. Its mission was to provide: academic instruction, leadership skills, life skills, mentoring/tutoring, creative activities, risk reduction, meals, incentives, pick-up and drop-off for participants in the Irmo and Greater Columbia area. Further, we focused on conflict resolution, developing job and communication skills, aligning academic goals to personal goals, health and wellness education and community service opportunities. We were committed to providing a safe, wholesome environment for all children. Students met with mentors and in group settings weekly. Under its original model, ULSA served more than fifty children per week. In six years, we effectively served hundreds of children and their families.
In the summer of 2013, the mission of ULSA was shifted as Universal Outreach Church pursued its goal of acquiring a new, larger campus for its worship and ministry activities. Providing a larger space for ULSA was one of the primary reasons why the church was in search of new facilities. The new property was secured and Universal Outreach Church moved into its new home at 25 Bluebird Trail, Irmo, SC. In anticipation of its move, the mission of ULSA was shifted to that which is described below, with a 5-day per week after school academy, music and arts training, sports, camps and other activities which are described herein. This was a period of great growth for ULSA as we joined UOC in serving children and families from surrounding communities.
The program offerings of ULSA have been enriched by the work and ministry of Universal Outreach Church. When UOC purchased its current ministry campus at 220 North Royal Tower Drive, Irmo, SC in 2016, a new chapter was opened for ULSA. We have been able to partner with the church in doing weekly enrichment and ministry activities for children who gather for social, educational and value-based sessions.
In 2020 our scope of services changed immensely, as the COVID-19 Pandemic took full-effect upon the nation. ULSA was licensed by the South Carolina Department of Social Services as Temporary Day Care & Virtual Campus for school-aged children. With this licensure in hand, Dr. Alonzo Johnson, our chairman, initiated a conversation with Mayor Barry Walker of the Town of Irmo, and Dr. Akil Ross, of HeartEd, Inc. about offering a summer camp and after school program for underserved children and families in Irmo. From these and related conversations, the HeartEd/Irmo Youth Zone was birthed. The summer camp and activities for the Youth Zone were merged with the ULSA programs as we began to serve the first children in December of 2020. The support from the town of Irmo was solidified early on by Mayor Barry Walker and Councilman Bill Danielson. The financial donations for ULSA in 2021 were provided principally by Universal Outreach Church, HeartEd, Inc. and its partners, to include the Mungo Foundation, and Mr. Ken and Mrs. Jondie Loveless. The Harbison Community Association donated the first bus that is used to transport out students. The Town of Irmo is to date has made the largest donation to the Irmo Youth Zone, with funds directed from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Upon his appointment as the Superintendent of Lexington/Richland School District Five, Dr. Akil Ross has worked to expand the Youth Zone and include other non-profit groups, and faith-based organizations in creating working relationships to serve the needs of underserved students in our school district. Dr. Ross has also been instrumental in establishing a relationship between ULSA and the College of Education of the University of South Carolina. Through this partnership, USC Teaching Fellows volunteer and work part-time as teaching assistants and counselors at ULSA.
ULSA is now a licensed as a SC DSS ABC Voucher center. This licensing allows us to work in partnership and assist other organizations in establishing and operating after school programs and summer camps for children throughout the state of South Carolina. We are currently consulting with other non-profit groups, churches, schools and educational organizations, and private sector groups to create their own “Palmetto Youth Zones” to serve the underserved children of their communities.
OUR TARGET POPULATION
Currently, ULSA serves school-aged children ages 5-13. We are open to all students who need our services desire to excel in all areas of life, have an interest in exploring the performing arts and are willing to follow our Academy Code of Conduct.
ULSA is currently seeking licensure with 4K First Steps of South Carolina to provide full-day Kindergarten for 4 year olds. We are also pursuing other partnerships that will expand services to local teenagers.
THE ULASA CODE OF CONDUCT
I will conduct myself with integrity; respect others by being polite to them, abstaining from physical, mental and verbal abuse, and following the rules of each group.
SCOPE OF SERVICES
Individualized Intake Goal Setting for each student (established in conversation with the student and parents);
Individualized tutoring in selected subjects, per our homework assistance policies.
Promotion of Social Graces & Civility;
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Focus on computer-based, musically enhanced STEAM programming;
Age appropriate Biblically based devotions;
Fun-filled Family Gatherings;
Parent’s night out, offered in coordination with UOC.
**ON DEMAND, PER STUDENT AND FAMILY REQUESTS AND NUMERICAL SUPPORT
Through our relationship with local vendors, educational and recreational institutions, independent business persons and merchants, we offer additional program opportunities to our students in areas such as: sports, music, dance, singing, visual arts, karate, skateboarding, computer basics, etc.
**SOME OF THESE PROGRAMS MAY COME WITH AN ADDITIONAL FEE OR MAY BE OFFERED ON WEEKENDS)
The After School program offers daily academic enrichment, homework assistance, recreation, and social engagement. Our teachers follow the academic programs of Lex/Rich Five for grade-appropriate instruction and assistance with homework.
Special, individualized and group tutoring will be available to students (upon request). However, additional FEES MAY BE REQUIRED FOR INTENSIVE TUTORING REQUESTS. Such tutoring will be specific to your child’s needs.
Students who are enrolled in private and public Virtual and Hybrid Academic programs will follow the academic curriculum and schedule that are designated by their respective schools. Staff will be available to assist them in logging into their websites in order to begin and progress through their daily schedule. They will be monitored throughout the day, in order to help them stay on task.
The After School program will offer some assistance with homework, on a case-by-case basis, as staff are available. ULSA utilizes the HeartEd curriculum method of computers and musical concepts to enhance student achievement in core subject areas and STEAM.
Special, individualized and group tutoring will be available to students. However, additional FEES MAY BE REQUIRED FOR INTENSIVE TUTORING REQUESTS. Such tutoring will be specific to your child’s needs.
ULASA COMMUNAL GOALS
Promoting academic excellence;
Promoting wholesome, responsible behavior;
Encouraging students to stay out of gangs and away from risky behavior;
Reducing physical and verbal abuse
Utilizing behavior modification techniques in order to assist kids to make positive behavorial changes.
Encouraging physical activity (Let's Move);
Supporting positive interaction with law enforcement;
Modeling cultural diversity;
Stimulating a love for the performing arts;
Enhancing social skills;
Developing leadership skills;
Enhancing conflict resolution skills;
Promoting wholesome decision making;
Assisting children in areas related to social and emotional health.