The Dayton Daily News
Dayton Public Schools is trying to add more resources to several of its schools by growing its summer programs and applying for large state grants in partnership with community organizations.
DPS and its partners are applying for five more 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, which aim to help economically disadvantaged children who attend a low-performing school. Each federally funded grant provides a school with about $850,000 over five years for high-quality academic and enrichment activities, largely after school.
Two Dayton schools already have these grants in place. Ruskin Elementary, in partnership with East End Community Services, and Fairview Elementary, in partnership with Omega Community Development Corporation, are both wrapping up the second year of their five-year grants.
Last week, Dayton’s school board approved partnership agreements for five other schools to apply, with award approval or rejection expected around July, according to LaShawn Graham, DPS director of federal programs.
The schools that could be eligible for new grants are Kiser Elementary (partnering with Children’s Medical Center), Westwood Elementary (partnering with the Wesley Community Center), Cleveland Elementary (with Dayton’s YMCA), Edison Elementary (with Learn to Earn Dayton) and Wright Brothers Middle School (with East End).
“The majority of them are for our Neighborhood School Centers,” Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said. “That will only enhance the afterschool programming that’s offered for those students.”
Dayton currently has six Neighborhood School Centers — schools where a partner agency helps the district pay for a site coordinator who organizes extra academic, social and mentoring programs. All six — Ruskin, Fairview, Kiser, Westwood, Cleveland and Edison — either have a 21st Century grant or are applying for one.
Graham said those grants have three required components and must be structured to be sustainable.
“You have to have at least a literacy component, a math component and positive youth development,” she said. “But you also have to have parent and family engagement. That’s where you can leverage your resources by utilizing the Neighborhood School Centers and Title 1 funds.”
The grants are federally funded, but applications are reviewed and scored by the Ohio Department of Education.
The state awarded 79 new five-year grants last year and 107 the year before. Two Trotwood schools and one local charter school (Dayton Leadership Academy) also have existing grants.
Later this month, Dayton’s school board is expected to approve four $40,000 contracts with four agencies to run “community-based summer enrichment programs” at Dayton schools with Neighborhood School Centers.
Lolli said the East End/ Ruskin program is expected to serve 200 children, while Omega’s Freedom School at Fairview served 50-75 in the past. The other contracts are with the United Way at Edison (60 students) and the West Dayton Caravan of Churches at Westwood, according to Lolli.
Lolli said each program will have both pure academic and enrichment activities, saying it makes sense to extend the work that those centers are doing into the summer. She said each program recruits on its own, and DPS does some robocalls and sends fliers home to make families aware of the opportunities.
“I just want to express a word of appreciation to Dr. Lolli and her staff for the attention they’re giving to the community schools program, as a way of extending our reach to some of our hard-to-serve students,” school board member Robert Walker said. “I’m very encouraged.”
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