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Enrichment programs coming to 3 more Yakima elementary schools from new 21st Century Grant

After-school learning programs are coming to three more schools in the Yakima School District starting this summer as the result of a new federally-funded U.S. Dept. of Education grant being provided through Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Educational Service District 105 received notice in December of the joint award for this expansion of the 21st Century Grant that is designed to support before-school and after-school academic enrichment opportunities in science, math, and reading.  This new grant will benefit selected students at Adams Elementary, McKinley Elementary, and Ridgeview Elementary in the Yakima School district.  The programs created through the funding will involve about 80 students at each of the schools during each five years of the grant. 

This new grant will be building on the 21st Century Grant that ESD 105 and the Yakima School District have already been facilitating since 2019 for students at Washington Middle School, Barge-Lincoln Elementary, and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.  That earlier award provided $500,000 during the 2019-20 school year and is renewable for up to five years for a potential total of $2.5 million for the activities at those three buildings.

21st Century Grant mailed "fry bread" activity kit  Since last fall, the 21st Century programs have been operating through the use of activity-based learning kits that are being mailed each month to children’s homes to assist them on building their math, reading, and problem-solving skills.  (SEE ACCOMPANYING PHOTO FOR SAMPLE OF ONE OF THESE MAILED KITS.)

The new grant to expand academic enrichment opportunities at the three additional schools will involve about $370,000 during its first year, with the remaining funding to be determined later.  The grant will fund student supplies, teacher materials, and training sessions.  It will also support the employment at each school site of one half-time coordinator, a portion of the work of one teacher, and three instructional aides.

As with the earlier grant, the new award will also be creating four-week summer sessions as well as a monthly series of family involvement activities.  Then starting this fall, each of the three newly added schools will also provide 45-minute sessions prior to the start of each regular class day in order to help students with homework checks, book clubs, and math support.  Adams, McKinley, and Ridgeview will offer these sessions four to five days a week, with programming that will assist students on their reading, English, math, STEM, and social-emotional learning.  Specific offerings will vary from school to school, based on surveys conducted in each building to determine the instructional areas that will best serve the student needs at each site. 

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers 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 work of the local project is 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.

Mike Closner, the director for Teaching and Learning at ESD 105, said:  “We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with the Yakima School District, EPIC, and other partners to offer this assistance to these students.  Collectively, as partners, we want to increase opportunities for students who are struggling, and to close their opportunity gaps.