By JANELLE JAMES
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan will see an increase in after-school programs early next year, state officials said.
That’s when the Michigan Department of Education will begin distributing $24 million from federal COVID relief funds to create more out-of-school programs for K-12 students across the state. The money will also be used to help reopen programs operating before the pandemic.
Experts say the need is great.
“We know that kids are only in school for about 20% of their life, and (during) the rest of that 80%, they’re still learning,” said Lorraine Thoreson, the manager of the state’s 21st Century Community Learning Center. “We just want to make sure that when they have supported programs out of school time, that they’re learning positive behaviors.”
Between 2014 and 2020, 44 states and Washington, D.C., lost after-school programs, according to America After 3 p.m., an after-school advocacy alliance, based in Washington, D.C.
In many urban areas, where marginalized communities tend to live, there is an increased demand for after-school program,s compared to rural or suburban areas, Thoreson said.
Alpena and cities surrounding it in the northeast part of the state are “deserts for after-school programs,” Thoreson said.
In Detroit, the ratio of students to after-school programs is one for every 300 students, Thoreson said. She said she hopes that by distributing these grants, cities can meet the national average of one program per every 200 students.
“Unfortunately, Detroit, as many of us know, is an underserved region, so it’s imperative that we give young people options and things to be able to be engaged and be involved in ” said Winston Coffee, the college liaison for the Midnight Golf Program.
The program was founded by Reneé Fluker to provide metro Detroit students with life skills through mentorship while learning to play golf.
“We’re able to serve 250 seniors a year in our program, (but) we’d love to be able to serve more,” Coffee said. “We have to turn way more students away than we’d like to.”
The program relies heavily on donors and alumni donations.
School districts, community-based organizations, community education programs, public libraries, local governments and intermediate school districts can apply for the grants, Thoreson said. The department said it wants to distribute grants by mid-December so that programs can start at the end of the year.
Eligible applicants can receive a minimum of $7,080 and a maximum of $238,100. The application will close on Oct. 6 at noon. More information can be found by visiting www.Michigan.gov.