COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) — The South Carolina Department of Education is pumping millions into after-school programs across the state.
In a press release, the department says it is partnering with the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance to distribute $14.5 million in ESSER money to programs across South Carolina.
SCAA is the hub of after-school programs that provide parents with easy access to individual programs large and small. In Charleston County, 92 partner programs are listed on its website, including groups such as Communities in Schools, Wings for Kids and Kaleidoscope.
“We have partnered with the Superintendent and the Department of Education to develop a plan to identify and fund evidence-based curriculum in underserved areas to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on students. through after-school and summer programs,” said the SCAA CEO and President. Zelda Waymer.
The SCAA has already chosen which programs will receive a stipend and the amount of that stipend, but they have not yet released that information. Waymer says it has received more than 200 requests for funding and expects the money to be sent within the next two to three weeks.
“One of the conditions of our grant was that you can’t have additional federal dollars to implement the same program,” Waymer said. “So with these funds, they are to be implemented without any other ESSER funds or federal financial support.”
However, some of these programs are also part of the same organizations applying for ESSER III funds at the local level. Four Rivers Outreach After School Program, for example, is listed as one of SCAA’s partner programs. Four Rivers Outreach President Dr. Wilton Stewart said he received a grant from the SCAA to run his Adventure Summer Camp program.
They also submitted a request to the CCDS to receive $359,000 in ESSER III money to operate its Spring and fall 2022 extracurricular program.
Eleanor Hardy, who runs the program, says ESSER money is a lifeline to support and grow their tutoring and mentorship program. She says the funding helps offset the cost to parents and is important for catching up with students.
“On a scale of one to 10, that’s an 11,” Hardy said. “Because we work with late students, it’s going to be very difficult if we don’t get help. Our parents, most of the time, pay. We try not to do it so high that it is beyond their reach.
Many nonprofits are hoping to raise as much money as possible through ESSER and other COVID relief funds. The SCAA says it hasn’t chosen any programs that already receive federal funds, but the CCSD has yet to choose the organizations it plans to fund.
State ESSER funding does not preclude an organization or program from receiving local ESSER funds as long as the funding does not support the exact same function, according to the Charleston County School District.
For example, the state might give money to an organization to expand its afterschool program in certain schools, and the district might give the same organization money to expand in different schools.
Other programs that have applied for ESSER III funds from SDCC and are also SCAA partners include: Wings for Kids, Communities in Schools, Kids on Point, Yes I Can After School Program, and Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Beyond. Measure Mentoring Program.
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