Wings, a nonprofit after-school program for low-income children in the Charleston area, has received a $410,000 grant.
The two-year grant is from the Wallace Foundation, which seeks to help improve education programs for disadvantaged children.
Wings' programs are three hours daily, five days a week during the school year and focus on improving kids' behavior and "attachment to school," according to Bridget Laird, the program's to chief executive officer.
The grant is for Wings' general operations, so it will not be designated for a specific part of the program.
Wings' goal is to increase students' involvement and performance in middle and high school, and ultimately to a diploma. Activities focus on five core skills: social awareness, self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making and relationship skills.
"If you focus on those five core areas, research shows that success will follow," Laird said. "We focus on weaving those objectives into activities."
Wings is two years into a four-year study, partnered with College of Charleston and University of Virginia researchers, evaluating the effects of long-term participation in the program. College students also work as mentors for the elementary school-age children who participate in Wings. Their participation can yield the same positive results that kids' can.
"Many report growth in their own social and emotional skills as a result of working at Wings," said Laura Brock, one of the researchers and an assistant professor in teacher education at C of C.
Out-of-class programs like Wings that may impact students' success at school are appealing to her, a former Charleston County School District teacher.
"I can appreciate the multiple demands placed on teachers in classrooms," Brock said. "If there are resources we can apply outside of the classroom that have the potential to impact achievement and strengthen social and emotional skills inside the classroom, without further burdening teachers, that seems like a very attractive line of inquiry."
Reach Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne.