Four Charleston County schools will receive more than $2 million to launch after-school programs through a federal grant program aimed at providing academic and enrichment activities at high-poverty schools.
Mary Ford, Burns, Pepperhill and Frierson elementary schools are among 40 schools statewide to receive a portion of $5.3 million through the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant program. Oakbrook Middle in Dorchester District 2 is also receiving funding through the program.
Schools will receive up to $200,000 annually for up to four years under the grant program to offer students academic assistance through tutoring along with extracurricular activities like arts and crafts, drama or cooking. The Charleston County School District will receive $880,300 over four years to operate after-school programs at Frierson Elementary on Wadmalaw Island and Pepperhill Elementary in North Charleston. Nonprofit Charleston Promise Neighborhood will receive $675,000 to launch an after-school program at Mary Ford Elementary in North Charleston while WINGS for Kids will get $659,685 for an after-school program at Burns Elementary, also in North Charleston.
Bridget Laird, chief executive officer of WINGS, said Burns is the fifth South Carolina school the nonprofit has received funding for through the Community Learning Centers Grant program. WINGS also operates at Memminger, Chicora and North Charleston elementaries in Charleston County as well as Main Street Elementary in Florence County School District 3.
"For us, it provides a majority of funding that we need to operate our programs," she said.
The program at Burns is already up and running, Laird said, with students receiving tutoring as well as structured activities like cooking and drama classes. What makes WINGS' curriculum unique is its focus on social and emotional learning, she said.
Laird said the curriculum is infused into the academic and enrichment activities. For example, Laird said, during a cooking class, WINGS instructors might discuss the concept of delayed gratification associated with baking cookies and how that relates to other types of delayed gratification like studying for a test.
"It's really capitalizing on teachable moments, training staff to make sure they can do that and having a culture in the program that cultivates that type of learning," she said.
Karen Williams, who manages extended day programs for the Charleston County School District, said the programs at Frierson and Pepperhill will serve students in grades 2-5. At Frierson the program will target students who need academic assistance as well as provide extracurricular activities like sign language, chess, cooking, sewing and robotics and Lego construction, Williams said.
The program at Pepperhill will focus on engaging students academically through activities like sculpting and Lego construction.
"Lessons will be engaging, active and expand upon regular school day learning in a fun way," said Pepperhill project Director Angela Harvey.