DANFORTH, Maine — Two local school districts are benefiting from a 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grant to create and enhance after-school programs for their students.
On May 25, it was announced by the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) that Maine Family Resource Center (MFRC) in partnership with East Grand School and Southern Aroostook Community School were two out of six applicants in the state of Maine to receive a five-year grant to support extended learning opportunities for students needing additional academic support.
MFRC wrote the grants and will receive $77,500 and $137,500.00, respectively, over a five-year award period. These monies will be used to engage in relevant extended day and summer programming at both districts through establishment of 21st Century Community Learning Centers. MFRC will be the fiscal agent for both grants.
According to the MDOE, the primary purpose of these programs is to provide school and community partnerships with funding to provide high quality support services to students during non-school hours. As such, these programs also support working parents and families by providing safe, learning environments for students at times when school is not in session.
“Quality educational opportunities like these can truly make a difference in a child’s life,” said Gov. Paul LePage. “These programs will ensure that Maine’s most needy students have access to the extra help they need to overcome their challenges, catch up with their peers and really have the chance they deserve to reach their full potential.”
With the state’s support, MFRC will annually provide services to approximately 60 East Grand students in grades K-12, and 115 students at SACS in grades 3-12.
MFRC also continues to support after school programs funded by 21st CCLC grants at Houlton Southside School (76 students), Hodgdon Middle and High (108 students), Mill Pond Elementary School (149 students), Katahdin Middle and High (100 students), and Katahdin Elementary School (92 students).
Both sites started their after school programs on Monday, Sept. 24, with homework support, tutoring, and interventions occurring during the first hour. The second hour will be followed with enrichment activities focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), the fine arts, cultural/multi-cultural, Health/Wellness/Safety, Nutritional, and Physical activities, including outdoor education.
Each program will operate morning enrichment from 7:30 to 8 a.m., Monday through Friday. RSU 50’s morning time will be for all students in grades 3-12. RSU 84 will run its morning time for grades 6-12; it has been dubbed “The Breakfast Club.”
These morning sessions allow students to complete homework, receive academic help, engage in physical exercise, or to socialize with their peers. SACS’s morning piece supports working parents who need to drop their younger students off early. In addition to regular activities, both schools will partner with the Ski for Life Program in their district.
Jennifer Siltz, Assistant Coordinator for SACS, summarized the program, “I feel that ASP bridges the gap between the end of the school day and the time when caregivers take over at home. Thanks to this grant we are able to amp up our program in hopes of engaging more children than we previously serviced. With offerings like these, how can we go wrong?””
RSU 84 and RSU 50, previously operated with 21st CCLC grant funding and went on to sustain their programs through the district school budgets.
Susan Shain, coordinator at the East Grand ASP said, “It isn’t easy to stretch a school budget to include this service to our students, but we recognized the importance of out-of-school time learning. When MFRC contacted us about applying for the grant money, we saw this as an opportunity to pay for more staff, allow more students to participate, and provide more activities and field trips.”
Shannon Mathers, ASP Coordinator for Southern Aroostook, agreed, “The 21st Century grant is a wonderful opportunity for our students. It is providing educational support after school, diverse field trips and activities, as well as professional development for our faculty.”
MFRC Directors, Carolyn Fickett (RSU 84) and Steve Mine (RSU 50) are looking forward to working with these sites. “MFRC is invested in the Southern Aroostook-Northern Washington Counties. Exposing students to learning opportunities outside of their scope of life, broadens the horizons of students and sparks career choices that could lead to individual success, aswell as benefit the communities where they live,” the two stated in a press release.