Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 10, 2013

$750K grant for school program

Grant money to go toward after-school community centers in Kokomo.

Kokomo-Center Schools announced Monday it would use a $750,000 grant to open five after-school community centers focused on math and science education.

The district received a highly competitive 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant.

The federally-funded grant program supports schools that want to provide places for their students, especially impoverished ones, to go after school to receive academic enrichment, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“This grant truly is for the kids,” said Dave Barnes, director of communications for the district.

District officials envision places where elementary school students and their parents can go after school to get extra help with homework and participate in hands-on activities related to math and science.

“This is not a day camp; it’s not baby sitting,” said Dawn McGrath, director of programs for the district. “This is an academic experience.”

A family advocate will be on hand to offer classes for parents. A special education teacher will be available to help students with disabilities. And a robotics coach will involve groups of elementary school students in the Lego League robotics competitions, something that’s not available to them now, officials said.

“This is huge,” McGrath said. “There’s only so much the schools can do during the day.”

Initially, the district intends to serve at least 100 elementary school students from across the city on a regular basis, McGrath said. If the effort is successful, the district will expand the program.

Officials said they have no doubt the program will be successful, especially when 15 local organizations and businesses are already on board to help.

The city of Kokomo has agreed to help with public transportation.

Indiana University Kokomo will host parent workshops and field trips. Purdue University College of Technology Kokomo has offered up college students to serve as mentors and staff members to help with engineering activities.

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