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These are featured stories of how the Upper Delta and Mid-South is combating the Coronavirus as well as resources to help those impacted by the pandemic.

ADE, A-State and Out of School Network award $1.8 million for summer programs

AState Carl R. Reng Center Student Union
Arkansas State University Jonesboro Website (astate.edu)
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The Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE) Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Arkansas State University and its sponsored initiative, the Arkansas Out of School Network, have awarded $1.8 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER III funds to 30 summer and extended-year learning programs across the state through the Summer Learning Supplemental Grant.

The second round of ESSER III federal relief funding was allocated to mitigate student learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic to support social-emotional development. Grants range between $35,000 and $75,000 for the award period of May 15 to Aug. 15. The summer awards will provide funding for high-quality summer learning activities, including literacy, STEM, academic support and skill building, social-emotional learning, health and wellness, enrichment, and workforce development.

The Afterschool and Summer Program competition for the 2022-2023 term will close on July 15 and can be accessed at aosn.org.

“Even before the pandemic disrupted all aspects of student life, Arkansas struggled to meet the demand for afterschool and summer learning programs,” said Laveta Wills-Hale, network director of the Arkansas Out of School Network. “For every child in an afterschool program in Arkansas, three more are waiting to get in. The same is true for summer learning programs. In 2019, more than 26,000 additional children would have been enrolled in a program if one were available to them. We will continue working tirelessly to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and to ensure all children have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. This funding is a critical resource to communities and programs across our state, and we are grateful to the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for its partnership.”

Awardees include school districts and community-based partnership programs such as public libraries, nonprofit organizations, career and technical programs, faith-based organizations, and institutions of higher learning. They will utilize grant awards to address the academic impact of lost instructional time on student learning through evidence-based summer programs.

“We are pleased to partner with the Arkansas Out of School Network again to provide additional federal funding to schools and non-profit organizations to enhance student learning this summer and after school this next school year,” said Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, DESE deputy commissioner. “With the first round of funding, we have seen innovative programs offered that support learning for students at all age levels. Research shows that summer learning loss is a real issue for many students, particularly those from economically-disadvantaged households. Summer learning experiences that include academic enrichment, ongoing access to social-emotional supports, and access to experiences that connect students to hands-on opportunities provide enrichment and exposure that mitigate learning regression. The awardees for this next round of funding are well deserving, and we look forward to seeing their programs in action.”

The Arkansas Out of School Network is one of 50 State Afterschool Networks (SANs) working to promote an expansion of school-based and school-linked afterschool and summer programs serving children and youth ages 5-19.

The 30 grant awardees are:

  • A Different Stroke of Art, North Little Rock
  • Applying Positive Touches / Down and Distance, Little Rock
  • Arkansas Delta Solutions, Monticello
  • Arkansas Employment Center, Little Rock
  • Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative, Pine Bluff
  • Arkansas School for the Deaf, Little Rock
  • Boys and Girls Club Arkansas River Valley, Russellville
  • Boys and Girls Club El Dorado
  • Boys and Girls Club McGehee
  • Carter’s Crew, North Little Rock
  • City Youth Ministries, Jonesboro
  • Cutter Morning Star School District, Hot Springs
  • Fordyce School District
  • Four State Urban Development / Literacy Council Bowie & Miller Counties, Texarkana
  • Girl Scouts Diamonds, Little Rock
  • Gravette School District
  • Greenland School District
  • Harrison Public Schools
  • Hermitage Elementary
  • Life Skills for Youth, Little Rock
  • Mammoth Spring School District
  • Melbourne School District
  • Moncrief Game Changer, Little Rock
  • Mountain View School District
  • Pleasant Grove Baptist Church/SACK, Bald Knob
  • Second Baptist Church, Little Rock
  • Sheridan Public School District
  • Southside School District, Batesville
  • TOPPS, Pine Bluff
  • William F. Laman Library, North Little Rock
George Jared is a reporter for Talk Business & Politics.