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Foundation, Feds Join Forces on After-School Effort

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Working with federal officials, a private foundation has committed $55 million to the expansion and improvement of before- and after-school programs for America's students.

The funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, based in Flint, Mich., will dovetail with the Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which President Clinton wants to expand by $800 million over five years.

If approved by Congress, total federal funding for the program would grow to $1 billion over five years, serving 500,000 children a year. Current federal funding for the program is $40 million.

The foundation's pledge was announced last week during a White House ceremony. The substance of the Jan. 26 announcement was overshadowed when the president used the occasion as a platform to deny published allegations that he had had a sexual relationship with a former White House intern and prompted her to lie about it.

The gathering marked the second time in a month that Mr. Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have hosted special events to discuss their proposals to improve child care for working families.

In addition, the president promoted after-school programs during his State of the Union Address the following evening. He cited statistics that show most juvenile crime occurs between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

"We can keep so many of our children out of trouble in the first place if we give them somewhere to go other than the streets," he said in the speech to Congress.

Workshops Planned

The 21st Century Community Learning Center program promotes after-school activities such as computer-skills study, art, music, and community service, as well as tutoring in the basic skills.

The Mott Foundation's effort will focus on four goals:

  • Integrating learning into after-school programs;
  • Expanding access to high-quality, extended-learning programs;
  • Ensuring program availability to low-income and hard-to-reach populations; and
  • Devising innovative models to be shared within the after-school care field.

The money would pay for a range of activities, which might include creating a national training network, producing a special program on high-quality after-school care to be aired on public television, surveying principals about their attitudes toward after-school programs, and conducting seminars for district leaders, including superintendents and school board members.

In addition, the Mott Foundation will spend $2 million to run 11 regional workshops for schools and other organizations to help them apply for the federal grants.

To receive the federal grants, applicants must raise local matching funds.

The Mott Foundation's involvement in community-based education programs dates back to 1935, when it donated $6,000 to the Flint board of education for recreational programming in five schools.

Since then, the foundation has offered many training programs to help other communities develop similar activities.

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