The state has awarded Middletown's YMCA a two-year $240,000 grant to fund after-school programs at the city's North End elementary that will allow low-income families to pay an affordable fee for child care.
More students are eligible for free and reduced lunch at Macdonough than the city's seven other elementary schools, which means family incomes there aren't enough to afford the $2.50 daily lunch fee.
Melanie Carfora, school-age programs director at the Northern Middlesex YMCA, says this is the third time the state had allocated money to fund programs at Middletown's North End school.
"It’s a highly competitive grant: We were one of 26 that got chosen and more than 70 people applied for funding," she said.
The $239,342 grant is part of awards statewide totaling $8,490,000 over the biennium to support 26 programs in 18 districts throughout Connecticut announced Tuesday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
Macdonough Principal Jon Romeo was excited to hear the news.
“We are thrilled to have been selected for Connecticut’s After-School Grant Program. Working together with our colleagues from the Middlesex YMCA to provide our students with high-quality before- and after-school programming represents the very best in school-family-community partnerships,” he said.
Carfora said two legislators serving Middletown helped to get funds for Macdonough.
"State Rep. Matt Lesser and state Sen. Paul Doyle have been champions of ours at the Capitol. They goes out of his way to advocate for Kids Korner," Carfora said.
The grant allows families to pay $2 per day for the school-based Kids Korner program, which runs from 3:25 to 6 p.m. "This keeps it affordable," Carfora said. The cost for families who send their child to Kids Korner between one and four days a week is $15.50 per day. For five days, the cost is $14.50 per day.
The program at Macdonough, Carfora said, is a true community collaboration. Partners include Oddfellows Playhouse, Wesleyan University and Everyone Outside.
"The YMCA works in partnership with the Macdonough School staff to expand services to low income families, increase the academic outcomes of the students who participate, address the needs of parents, and encourage a student bond with the school community," she said.
A large number of minority and low-income students are at a vulnerable age, Carfora said, and constructive and fun after-school activities can have a significant impact on improving their academic, social and emotional achievement.
Macdonough's scholars academy for third- to fifth-graders, which teaches students taking the Connecticut Mastery Tests, will also benefit from these state funds. Students receive support in reading, writing and math skills, in a small group, before school setting with certified teachers.
Grade schoolers can also take part in recess clubs that offer reading help, staffed by a member of the YMCA staff. "It's really beneficial to the whole community," Carfora said.
In partnership with the Board of Education, three certified teachers will work one hour after school Tuesday through Thursday with Kids Korner students to provide small group, grade-specific homework support.