CLINTON — Four years ago, the Clinton Community School District was the recipient of the first of two 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. The grants are federally funded and administered through the Iowa Department of Education. The focus of the grants is directed at supporting No Child Left Behind legislation.

In the initial years of the grant, the district was able to offer before-school care — at no cost — to a limited number of families at each 21st Century elementary site on a first come, first served basis. Afterschool programming is offered to qualified second- through fourth-graders including language arts and math tutoring in a small group setting, as well as enrichment activities in the areas of science, recreation, the arts and multiculturalism.

Since the district has early dismissal for staff development each Wednesday at all elementary sites, field trips are offered to ASP participants. The goal is to broaden the children’s exposure to a variety of activities such as museum and library visits. To qualify for ASP participants must score in the lower 40th percentile on Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.

Throughout the years, 21st Century staff has worked hand-in-hand with numerous community partners in providing programming for participants. Such partners include: YWCA; Area Substance Abuse Council Prevention Department - New Directions, Inc.; Study Connection; Bridgeview Mental Health Center; Clinton County University Extension; Clinton County Conservation; Rainbow Pottery; Clinton Substance Abuse Council; Bethel AME; Rollerden 2000; Clinton LumberKings; Fulton Bowling Lanes and many others.

This is the final year of the 21st Century grant at Bluff, Jefferson and Eagle Heights elementary schools. Next year is the conclusion for the second grant at Whittier Elementary, Washington Middle and Lincoln High schools. Due to budget cuts that were written into the grant, the before-school programming has been discontinued at two elementary sites. Additional 21st Century staff cuts have been necessary, as well.

In recent weeks, the school district was again the recipient of three grants. The Supplemental Strategies Grant will be used for out-of-school time programming for fifth and sixth graders at the four elementary sites and at Washington Middle School. On Aug. 22, Senator Chuck Grassley announced that the district was a recipient of a mentoring grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant has the potential to assist the district in sustaining the ASP via the recruitment of many new volunteer mentors. An additional Before- and Afterschool Grant will assist in sustainability by providing additional funding for tutoring and enrichment which will cover shortfalls due to the loss of 21st Century funding with existing programs. This grant will also allow the implementation of a community partnership with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and expanding a partnership with Ashford University — to provide additional enrichment activities to ASP participants.

On Oct. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. the 21st Century Program staff will host its second annual Lights On Afterschool! celebration at Alliant Energy Field. This event is free and open to the public. Food will be served. A variety of games and activities will be available for children — and the young at heart. Many afterschool programs will showcase their participants’ activities with dancing, singing, and martial arts for example.

Last year almost 600 people attended Lights On Afterschool! despite bitter winds and snow flurries. Local dignitaries, area legislators, school board members, and dozens of area agencies and organizations participated in the event.

Lights On Afterschool! is a nationwide event to recognize the critical importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families and communities. It is a project of the Afterschool Alliance — a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs. More information on Lights On Afterschool! is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org. For more information regarding the 21st Century ASP contact Loras Osterhaus, project director, at 243-9600, ext 47.

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