Chester County Intermediate Unit Secures $407K Grant to Support After-School Programs

Grants

DOWNINGTOWN, PA — The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) has received $407,680 in continued funding from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. This grant will sustain CCIU’s before- and after-school programs at Avon Grove Middle School, Oxford Middle School, Avon Grove High School, and Oxford High School.

The 21st CCLC program provides federal funds to operate learning centers offering academic support and enrichment opportunities during non-school hours. The goal is to help students from underserved communities meet state standards in core subjects like reading and math.

“We are grateful to continue receiving 21st Century grant funding to provide engaging before- and after-school programming in our Avon Grove and Oxford communities,” said Dr. George F. Fiore, Executive Director of CCIU. “These grants allow us to offer students a rich array of activities such as art, music, STEM clubs, career exploration and more, in addition to tutoring and academic instruction.”

The $203,840 grant for Avon Grove and Oxford Middle Schools will fund STEM education, literacy skills, physical fitness, and youth development programs. These offerings include coding clubs, robotics teams, reading and writing workshops, sports clinics, and mentoring. At Avon Grove and Oxford High Schools, a matching $203,840 grant will support college and career preparatory programs. These include SAT and ACT preparation, college application assistance, career exploration, and life skills workshops such as financial literacy.

“The learning centers provide a safe, supportive environment for students to recharge and continue developing their skills and interests outside of regular school hours,” said Fiore. “We’re excited to continue these enriching programs.”

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The Avon Grove programs are based at The Garage Youth Center in Avondale, while the Oxford programs are held at the district’s schools. CCIU will work closely with the school districts on logistics for activities during the 2024-25 school year. The Pennsylvania Department of Education, which administers the 21st CCLC program in the state, awarded the grants.

This funding is crucial for maintaining educational support and enrichment for students in these communities. By offering resources beyond the classroom, the program aims to bridge gaps in education, particularly for students who may not have access to extracurricular activities. It also provides a structured environment during critical after-school hours, reducing the likelihood of students engaging in risky behaviors.

Programs focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are especially valuable. They equip students with skills that are increasingly important in today’s job market. Initiatives like coding clubs and robotics teams not only foster technical proficiency but also encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.

College and career preparatory programs help high school students navigate the complex process of higher education and job readiness. SAT and ACT prep courses, for instance, can significantly impact college admissions prospects. Financial literacy workshops arm students with essential skills to manage their future finances responsibly.

In summary, the $407,680 grant will enable CCIU to continue offering vital programs that enhance educational outcomes and personal development for students in Avon Grove and Oxford. With this funding, the learning centers will keep providing a safe, supportive, and enriching environment, helping students achieve their academic and personal goals.

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