After-school grant initiative unveiled for city council

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2005

The city will soon be helping unlock new doors for latchkey children.

The Suffolk City Council, during its work session Wednesday, got its first look at a proposed initiative to let city agencies or non-profits that sponsor after-school programs apply for grants of up to $15,000.

City lawmakers earmarked $100,000 in the Department of Parks and Recreation’s budget to fund the program, said Assistant City Manager Cindy Rohlf. Once the council approves the grant application, eligible organizations can submit applications for specific after-school projects.

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The grant program was the brainchild of a council-appointed task force that reviewed the city’s current after-school offerings, said Rohlf.

&uot;We found that there are a lot of good programs in the city,&uot; she said. &uot;We decided to focus on ways to expand existing programs.&uot;

An effective after-school program gives students a structured, safe place to go for several hours every afternoon, said Lakita Frazier, the city parks and reaction director. The youngsters will receive homework assistance, learn life skills and participate in athletics.

To qualify, organizations must have been in existence for at least two years and have to be sponsoring projects that enhance life for youth between the ages of 4 and 17, she said.

The approval committee will consider the applicant’s fiscal stability, its track record of after-school programs and whether the facility is a licensed daycare provider by the state.

Groups that submit grant applications will be notified within 60 days whether they will receive funding, Frazier said.

Several council members praised the program, saying it would help strengthen families.

&uot;It’s a proven fact that family is weakest between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m.,&uot; said Councilman Charles F. Brown, &uot;When kids are alone is when vices evolve.&uot;

He said he would support adding more money to the initiative if needed.