Fourteen local school districts and eleven community organizations have just received approval for an annual grant award of $1.9 million to support essential after school and summer programming. This award is the result of two successful grant applications.
Funding is scheduled to continue for five years until 2022, however only the first year, from July 2017 through June 2018, is currently allocated. Continued funding is contingent on annual federal budget approval, which may be at risk in the coming years.
The CROP (Creating Rural Opportunities Partnership) program addresses several critical needs that help alleviate the challenges of living in a high-poverty, rural area. More than 1,500 students each year in grades K-8 will have access to a safe and nurturing place after school hours and during the summer.
“CROP features small-group academic support, specialized STEM programming, visits from cultural institutions, character development, and time to practice social skills with peers,” said CROP Program Manager Liz Congdon. “Parents and families also benefit from the program, which runs until 5 p.m. on school days and provides bus transportation home.”
The program allows parents to focus on their careers or education, while knowing that their child is well cared for. Families are also provided with specialized, continuing education classes, such as financial literacy and computer classes. The program itself will provide more than 130 part-time jobs, including some for high school students who act as “Peer Leaders” or “Peer Tutors.”
An award of nearly $1.2 million renews funding for the existing CROP program at ten schools in Delaware, Greene and Schoharie counties. These include Andes, Charlotte Valley, Gilboa, Hunter-Tannersville, Jefferson, Margaretville, Roxbury, Stamford, South Kortright and Windham-Ashland-Jewett. A new $600,000 award re-establishes the program at four schools in Otsego County. These include Morris, Laurens, Milford, and Worcester, which had lost funding in previous rounds.
These two grants involve eleven community partners that provide learning activities in the CROP classrooms. These institutions and groups include the Farmers' Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Hanford Mills Museum, which provide academic enrichment sessions; local alcohol and drug abuse councils SCCASA, ADAC and LEAF, which provide life skills, drug and alcohol awareness, parenting, and character education programs; the Roxbury Arts Group and the Community Arts Network of Oneonta, which provide arts and cultural programming; Girls on the Run of CNY; and Hawk Circle Wilderness Education. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County provides cooking and nutrition classes for both students and parents.
Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES coordinated the grant writing process and provides ongoing program management and support services.
These awards are provided through the highly competitive federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. This program was originally established under No Child Left Behind in 2003 and reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. The New York State Education Department administers the awards and grant application process. Statewide there were 512 applicants and 122 successful grantees. These 122 awards total $78 million per year across New York State, including NYC.
While NYSED has approved these awards for the local school districts, continued funding is contingent on federal budget approval. The most recent presidential budget proposal, released on March 13, specifically cuts the 21st CCLC program. If Congress approves of this cut, this change could eliminate this funding nationwide as early as the 2018-19 school year and leave more than 1.6 million low-income children nationwide without a safe place to be after school and during the summer