Thirty-eight groups are vying for four federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants available to Utah this year. It’s the most interest the Utah State Office of Education has seen yet and the fewest number of grants available to the state. Representatives from the interested groups are at a conference today at the Utah State Office of Education, learning about the program.
The five-year grants are awarded to schools, community groups or faith-based organizations to provide after-school programs for low-income youth and their families. The program is intended to provide opportunities for academic enrichment, including tutoring. The programs also provide a variety of activities, such as youth development; drug and violence prevention; counseling; art, music, and recreation; technology education; and character education programs, which are designed to reinforce and complement academic programs. The centers also give students’ families literacy support and other educational opportunities.
The grants are phased out over five years, with the intention that the centers will eventually be supported through donations from the local community and businesses. There have been 28 grants awarded to Utah groups, serving 71 communities and more than 14,000 students. The addition of the four grants offered this year will bring the total number of 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants awarded in Utah to 32.