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The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund last week awarded $1.2 million each to Boston, Chicago, and Seattle to set up before- and after-school programs for children in elementary and middle schools.

"Children need places to go other than empty homes when their parents are at work," said George V. Grune, the chairman of the New York City-based fund.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as many as five million children nationwide return to empty homes after school.

The grants are part of the foundation's MOST initiative--Making the Most of Out-of-School Time. Administrators hope that over the next three years the cities will create models of school-age child-care that could be replicated across the country.

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