A new initiative from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is providing $50 million in grants to boost access to before- and after-school programs for thousands of Michigan kids.
MICHIGAN—Research shows that more than 751,000 children in Michigan lack access to before- and after-school programs. It’s a trend that bears out nationally and has only gotten worse in the last decade, particularly for kids living in Black and low-income communities.
But by providing millions of dollars in state funding to help address the problem, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic state lawmakers hope to reverse the trend by giving more Michigan students something productive to do with their time—both before and after class, and over the summer.
This week, Whitmer joined officials with the newly formed state Department of Lifelong, Education, Advancement, and Potential to announce $50 million in state grants to boost access to extracurricular programs for more than 67,000 students at 780 locations across Michigan.
The stated goal: “Ensuring every student gets the support they need to succeed.”
“These programs help kids explore their interests, get extra academic support, and connect with their peers,” Whitmer said in a statement on Tuesday. “They also make it easier for parents to work, knowing their kids are safe and cared for additional time outside of school hours. As a parent and as governor, I know that today’s investments will set more students up for success.”
State officials said the grant funding will work to create more opportunities for students to engage in learning activities outside of the classroom, and provide homework help and “accelerated learning opportunities” in literacy, math, science, and other core subject areas.
Grant recipients can use the funds to increase their enrollment capacity and reduce costs. All told, the grants are set to fund 125 programs statewide—serving a total of 31,000 Michigan students during the school year, and 36,000 students during the summer months.
State Sen. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) said $3.6 million was awarded to the Macomb Intermediate School District to help expand before-and after-school programs for local kids. He labeled the investment in Michigan students as “an investment in our collective future.”
“Before- and after-school programming is not simply an extension of the school day, but provides young people with invaluable opportunities to explore, learn and grow,” he said.
Another $1.2 million was awarded to Wayne Regional Education Services Agency. State Rep. Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte) called it a “direct investment in Downriver’s future workforce.”
“It’s very clear to me how important before and after school programs are to students and their families,” state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) said in a statement on Tuesday. “Funding before and after school programs help keep our children engaged scholastically and our communities safer. I look forward to securing even more wins for students in the future.”
Erin Skene-Pratt, executive director of the Michigan After School Partnership, said children who are enrolled in extracurricular learning programs are more likely to see growth in the classroom, improvement in behavior, and have a higher earning potential in their future careers.
“These programs also help parents sustain employment and provide parents with peace of mind knowing their children are safe and cared for before and after school,” Skene-Pratt said in a statement this week. “The benefits of out-of-school time programming are substantial and increasing access to these programs is crucial for children and families in Michigan.”
In addition to a record-breaking level of funding for Michigan’s schools, the latest state education budget signed by Whitmer invested hundreds of millions of dollars into out-of-school learning programs. That includes the latest grant funding, as well as $150 million for personal tutoring and academic support through the MI Kids Back on Track program—which Whitmer has said will allow schools to double down on helping students who have fallen behind in class.
“Together, these investments position more Michigan kids to meet their academic goals and thrive in school and beyond,” said Richard Lower, director of preschool and out-of-school time learning at the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential.
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