SAINT PAUL--The Wallace Foundation is awarding a new grant of $765,000 to Saint Paul to strengthen its efforts to provide its youth with more high-quality after school programs.
Saint Paul will use the grant to make high-quality after school programs available to more children and teens by more formally knitting-together the municipal agencies, schools, nonprofit youth programs and other institutions vital to providing these services, an approach Wallace calls “system-building.”
Saint Paul plans on using the money to strengthen the city’s Sprockets data system and improve the quality of out-of-school-time programs offered through our network partners. A modest part of the budget will be used to attract parents and youth the the program locator and encourage more participation in out-of-school-time programs.
“Learning doesn’t end with the school day. The future of Saint Paul lies in success of our youth, most of whom spend the majority of their time outside of the classroom,” Mayor Chris Coleman said. “We have great out-of-school-time programs in place, made easily accessible through Sprockets, and this grant means we can make those programs and Sprockets even better and even more accessible.”
The City of Saint Paul will focus on two areas – gathering reliable data and improving program quality. These funds will pay for training programs for youth programs in Saint Paul to improve the ways they engage children and will help them learn more effectively. Reliable data will let the city expand data systems to allow already existing programs to share information about what children are doing after school and during the summer. This will help Saint Paul track their academic, social and emotional growth over time. These funds will also help parents and youth find after school and summer programs that fit their kids' interests with an improved on-line program locator.
“Research tell us that more children and teens can get access to high-quality after-school experiences when communities coordinate the work of the many different groups involved,” said Nancy Devine, director of communities at Wallace, a New York-based, national foundation. “We want to encourage more cities to adopt this system-building approach, and one of the things we can expect to see is more cooperation between schools and after-school programs as they collaborate to better the education of our neediest urban kids.”
Saint Paul is one of nine selected by Wallace for this four-year initiative. The other cities are: Baltimore, Denver, Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Louisville, Nashville and Philadelphia– all cities where at least half of public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Wallace selected these cities because they are well-positioned to build on work they already have begun.
In October, the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families released the Wallace-commissioned report Municipal Leadership for Afterschool: Citywide Approaches Spreading Across the Country. It identifies 27 larger U.S. cities that have made significant strides in building systems to support after-school programming, and documents how they went about it and identifies common practices.
Wallace selected Saint Paul and the eight other cities from those included in the report as having already made substantial progress in setting up a citywide system with the key building blocks in place – committed mayoral leadership and a sound ongoing planning process.
In addition, the National League of Cities, Wallace’s longstanding partner in building broad understanding of the value of citywide after-school systems is receiving a grant of $1 million to help coordinate the initiative and serve as a resource to the cities.