SOUTHBRIDGE – Southbridge Public Schools is pleased to announce that the district has been awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Grant by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In his congratulatory letter to Receiver/Superintendent Jeffrey Villar, Governor Baker states, “Thank you for your commitment to supporting additional academically enriching opportunities for students that will help to close proficiency and opportunity gaps, and increase student engagement.

The purpose of the federally funded 21st CCLC grant is to support the implementation of additional learning time through out-of-school time programming and/or through an expanded day for students. Programming is designed to help close proficiency/opportunity gaps, increase student engagement, support social and emotional learning, and promote college and career readiness. The grant is awarded for one year with the potential to renew for two additional years.

The grant, in the amount of $350,000, is targeted specifically for afterschool programming at the elementary and middle school levels. It will allow the continuation and expansion of a free elementary level after-school program, which began last year. The program, for students in grades two through five, includes transportation for Charlton Street School students to the West Street School location. Through targeted partnerships with community organizations, students will be immersed in diverse experiences that will have a common theme of respecting one another while building social-emotional learning skills.

The intent of the program for Southbridge Middle School is to increase access to after-school programming for students in grades six through eight. Through partnerships with The Latino Education Institute, of Worcester State University, Tri-Community YMCA and New Hope, Inc., students will receive an overall experience that focuses on building skills and talents that will allow them to embrace Southbridge community pride and the gain an ability to engage in self-expression. Receiver/Superintendent Villar notes the grant will support turnaround efforts in the Southbridge Public Schools. He further stresses the importance of building close relationships with community organizations and feels the grant will allow the partnerships to expand. Dr. Villar states, “We believe that engaging community resources with schools and families is a key component of our turnaround plan.”

In applying for the grant, Assistant Superintendent Margo Ferrick quoted the Southbridge Public Schools vision statement noting that 21st CCCL funds will allow the school district to identify how students, many whom are economically disadvantaged, are being positioned to “experience a world-class education and graduate as engaged citizens.” She notes, “The Southbridge Public Schools is excited about building an after-school program that focuses on service learning and project-based activities to position students to realize that giving back to their community goes hand-in-hand with their own academic and social growth.”

It is anticipated that student and staff recruitment will begin later this month with the after-school programs beginning in October. More information about the 21st CCLC after- school programs will be distributed to families and school staff.

information about the Southbridge Public Schools can be found on its website, http://www.southbridgepublic.org/. Additional information about the 21st CCLC can be found on the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, http://www.doe.mass.edu/21cclc/.

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