Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Funding boosts after-school program in Ansonia

Thanks to recent funding from the Valley Community Foundation and the D’Addario Community Fund, 95 students at Ansonia Middle School, John G. Prendergast and John C. Mead elementary schools in Ansonia will continue to participate at no cost in academic, enrichment, and recreational after-school opportunities.

The programs are designed to complement their regular school day.

The program also provides opportunities for the families of these students to participate in additional educational programs.

It’s all part of an after-school project called The Charger Club Program, initially funded by the state Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program.

The 21st CCLC programs are funded for five years, with three years of full funding, the fourth year at 75 percent funding, and the final year at 50 percent funding.

 As the program was nearing the end of its fourth year of funding, the Ansonia Public Schools needed to secure “gap funding” for the program to continue at the same level of service for the fifth year without having to charge students and families to participate in the program.

Enter the Valley Community Foundation and its competitive grants process, which began earlier this year.

The APS submitted an application to the Foundation, was encouraged to participate in a rigorous site review process in the summer, and was recently awarded $25,000 through this process.

“The Charger Club program was one of only 17 grants awarded by VCF this year, and the only one in the education category,” said VCF President Sharon Closius.
“We were so pleased to be able to provide more than 75 percent of the request from the Ansonia Public Schools.”
As VCF finalized its grant process, staff reached out to donor advised fund holders to help support projects that were being recommended for funding.
 “We had a tremendous amount of funding requests this year,” said Closius, “and we have several donors who were willing to help us add monies from their funds to support various projects that VCF was unable to fully fund.”
When contacted about the opportunities that were available, Tom D’Addario of the D’Addario Community Fund was immediately interested.
“We knew that we had money available to grant out in our Fund this year, and that we wanted to assist wherever we could," he said. "Helping middle school students and their families with this after school program was a perfect fit for us – providing support that encourages kids to complete their homework as well as participate in recreational and enrichment opportunities is so impactful. We were so glad that we were able to contribute to this most worthwhile project.”

For the past four years, The Charger Club program has been providing 95 students in Grades 6-8 with homework assistance by Ansonia Public Schools’ teachers, as well as recreational and enrichment activities through the Boys and Girls Club in Ansonia.

Additional enrichment and family educational programs are offered by several other partnering groups, including Valley Regional Adult Education, Valley Kids Belong, and Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut.

“The Charger Club is a valued and important part of the extended school day for 95 of our families,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Merlone said.
"We have been able to offer the program free of charge to our families for four years, and we are very pleased to be able to continue to do so this year, with program staff focused on expanding programming for the entire family.”

“We have a great team of teachers, students, families and partnering organizations who are proud to be part of the Charger Club,” said Eileen Ehman, Project Director and Grants Manager for Ansonia Public Schools.
“We all want to thank VCF and the D’Addario family for supporting our program, which follows the motto of our school district: moving from good to great!”

For information about how to establish a fund or contribute to VCF to support programs, contact Sharon Closius, VCF President and CEO, at 203-751-9162 or at sclosius@valleyfoundation.org.

This is taken from a press release from the Valley Community Foundation.

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