2001-01-20 / Front Page

D27 Awarded Multi-Million Dollar Grant

D27 Awarded Multi-Million Dollar Grant

After-School Centers Slated For Rockaway

By John C. McLoughlin

Community School District 27, in collaboration with the community based multi-service organization Safe Space, has been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant for the next three years to implement a program entitled "21st Century Community Learning Centers."

The funds are specifically earmarked to provide students and their families with safe places in their community during non-school hours, to offer services that contribute to the reduction of violence and drug abuse, and to assist the children in meeting core academic standards.

District 27’s Learning Centers will provide after-school and Saturday programs at Public Schools 104, 106, 197, 215 and Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway. Each center will be open to all children in the community, with an emphasis on actively recruiting students who are performing below grade level. Small group settings will allow teachers and tutors to offer students individualized attention. The three-year project will focus on helping these children meet or exceed state and city standards in reading and mathematics. After-school "home room" teachers will track students’ progress throughout the year.

The arts and cultural enrichment component of the program will include trips to museums and scientific institutions for parents and children. Visits to specialized city high schools, including Bronx Science, Music and Art, Brooklyn Tech, and Aviation, will broaden middle school students’ awareness of educational and career opportunities.

Business owners, healthcare professionals, educators and other civic leaders will be guest speakers who act as role models and introduce the children to a wide variety of jobs in and outside of their home community.

Learning Center social workers will teach the children good health and nutrition, substance abuse prevention, violence prevention and mediation techniques by incorporating these themes into all athletics and dance programs. The social workers will also conduct parenting skills programs.

Phyllis Greenberg, director of Special Projects at District 27, said, "As soon as we get the award letter and the money is released to the Board of Education, we’ll start the program."

The Far Rockaway sites chosen for the after-school centers were the "neediest schools," according to Greenberg. "Safe Space visited each school in Rockaway and with input from the principals decided what school needed this the most."

The Safe Space organization, which will be responsible for the daily operation of the 21st Century Learning Centers, has been active in the Rockaway community for the last 15 years. In addition to after-school programs, the organization also runs a family preservation program, mental health clinic and parenting programs.

For the past two years Safe Space has been operating similar after-school centers in District 28. Greenberg said the organization has been "successful" with such centers.

Funding of the 21st Century Learning Centers will assist District 27 in achieving the goal of turning its schools into safe, educational havens for students and their families.

This recent grant follows several million dollars in funding awarded to District 27 to implement "Project for Rockaway Youth in Safety and Education" (PRYSE), which will operate in Rockaway’s two high schools, three middle schools and 10 elementary schools.

PRYSE will provide at-risk students with alternatives to violence and substance abuse. Services will include after-school activities, mentoring, gang intervention services, job training/entrepreneur programs, and on-site mental health services. The funds will also support the expansion of school security services in Rockaway’s schools.

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