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21st Century Grant will create after-school programs in Yakima

New after-school learning programs are coming to three schools in the Yakima School District this fall as part of a federally-funded grant being provided through Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The grant will initiate after-school and before-school academic enrichment programs starting this September at Barge-Lincoln Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, and Washington Middle School.  The $500,000 grant for the 2019-20 school year will be supporting those programs plus four-week summer sessions that will occur next year as well as a new monthly series of family involvement activities.  This grant is renewable for up to five years, potentially bringing a total of $2.5 million for the upcoming learning programs at the three Yakima schools. 

The Yakima School District and Educational Service District 105 received notice from OSPI on Monday that they were awarded this new funding, which is derived from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative.  This initiative is the only federal funding source devoted to promoting after-school programs, and is designed to support the creation of academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students from high-poverty areas.  OSPI oversees administration of the grant for our state. 

ESD 105 is the fiscal agent for the locally received funding.  The upcoming group of activities is being called the “Road to Success” program, and involves a partnership with the Yakima School District, ESD 105, EPIC (Enterprise for Progress In the Community), and other local organizations.

Under the grant, the three Yakima schools will be launching after-school programs to assist students for two hours during four to five days a week on their reading, English, math, STEM, and social emotional learning.  Students in the after-school sessions will be able to engage in activities that may include robotics, culinary arts, Lego-based engineering, the Eureka Math program, and the Imagine Learning social emotional curriculum.  Those offerings will vary from school to school, based on surveys conducted at each building to determine what instructional areas will best serve their students’ needs.  The after-school sessions will also provide additional time for students at the MLK and Barge-Lincoln sites to participate in more than one research and inquiry project per unit on their Reading Wonders literacy curriculum, which is taught during the regular school day. 

Also through the grant, each of the three schools will be providing 45-minute sessions prior to the start of each regular class day that will help enhance student learning through homework checks, book clubs, and math support.

About 80 to 100 students per building will be selected to participate in the Road to Success program.  Students will be selected based on assessments conducted by school staff on their learning needs.

The funding will also support monthly family engagement activities in the evenings, during which parents will learn how they can collaborate with school staff to strengthen their child’s literacy, STEM, and social-emotional skills within their own home.

The new Road to Success program will also involve four-week sessions during the summer that will include field trips, critical thinking instruction, anti-bullying lessons, and math programs.

The grant will fund student supplies, teacher materials materials, and training sessions for the new program.  It will also financially support the employment of one half-time coordinator at each school site, a portion of the work of one teacher and three instructional aides at each of three buildings, plus a program coordinator for the overall Road to Success program.  

Said Trevor Greene, superintendent for Yakima Public Schools:  “We look forward to offering more high quality after-school experiences for our students, and this grant will help us provide them for the next five years.  We also look forward to partnering with ESD 105 and EPIC to build these systems of support for some of our most challenged populations.”

Added Mike Closer, the director for Teaching and Learning at ESD 105:  “The Road to Success program will be able to expose children to assistance such as STEM activities and other rich learning opportunities for expanding their horizons that they may not have been aware about.  Our goal is to help students in a number of ways to close the barriers they may have with areas such as language and math.  Building and district leadership in the Yakima schools were eager to work together with us in helping bring about this collaborative program.”