After-school and summer programs for Georgian students affected by the coronavirus pandemic are growing thanks to $ 85 million in federal grants. GPB’s Ellen Eldridge has more.
So far, around $ 27 million in State Grants for Creating Out-of-School Opportunities, or BOOST, has been awarded to 106 Georgian nonprofits that serve social and emotional needs. children outside of school.
the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network has partnered with the Georgia Department of Education to administer $ 85 million over the next three years for after-school and summer learning in Georgia. Funding for the BOOST grant program comes from the US bailout that was enacted by President Joe Biden in March 2021.
Georgia is expected to get about $ 4.7 billion in total from the US bailout.
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“This is a bipartisan issue; it’s not Republican or Democrat, ”Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) previously told GPB News. “Colleagues on both sides of the aisle of the Legislature know how important it is that we work on these issues and that we find and fund effective programs to help those affected by mental illness and addiction.”
Jackie Cannizzo, executive director of the C5 Georgia Youth Foundation, said C5 received $ 140,000 in grants for 2022.
“We were fortunate to be one of 100 nonprofits in Georgia, statewide to receive the BOOST grant, which came from the Department of Education and the American Rescue Plan, ”Cannizzo said.
C5 Georgia is a five-year program that begins at the end of seventh year. The very rigorous and competitive selection process is aimed at high potential students in the Atlanta metro area.
“Which means they have a B average or better in school, (and are) motivated to be successful,” Cannizzo said. “(They) are definitely motivated to overcome these challenges to achieve personal success, whether in life, in community work and, of course, in college.”
The goal is to provide evidence-based after-school and summer enrichment programs that support students in learning skills and concepts and provide supports for the whole child, thereby removing non-academic barriers. learning for students most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These grants aim to:
- Expand access to serve more young people, with a focus on students and communities most affected by the pandemic;
- Reduce barriers, such as transportation and registration fees, to ensure access for all; and or
- Increase the quality of programs and expand or improve the supports and services offered.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgians struggled to access mental health care and treatment for substance use disorders.
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The state ranks 51st for access to health care, and Lee and Haralson counties are among the top 20 counties in the country with the highest percentages of their populations reporting frequent suicidal ideation, according to a screening performed in 2020 by Mental Health America.
“An alarming statistic is that every seven hours someone commits suicide in Georgia,” Georgia MHA executive director Abdul Henderson said in July. “This is an alarming statistic. And the only way to help prevent this is to invest in early intervention and prevention.“
That’s why BOOST grants are awarded to organizations focused on middle and high school-aged teens, such as the state’s Georgia Boys and Girls Club and, in Metro Atlanta, the C5 Georgia Youth. Foundation.
“We mainly work in partnership with metro (region) middle schools to recommend students to apply to our program,” Cannizzo said. “And then other community organizations that we partner with (include) the Atlanta Food Bank and Trees Atlanta, because part of our agenda is to instill community service and the importance of being a citizen of the community. . “
Only a handful of rural Georgia nonprofits are BOOST award winners. Most of the grants went to organizations in the Atlanta metro area.
Check out the full list of Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network grantees.
This story comes to Youth Today through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a nonprofit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.