2015 Community Learning Centers Grants Focus On Literacy

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The U.S. Department of education has been doling out funds to states for after school programs since No Child Left Behind took effect in 2002. This year Ohio received 45 million dollars - up from 43 million last year - that it will divvy up between 186 learning centers already in the program and 61 new ones.

The grants are aimed at high-poverty communities and other areas where kids attend low-performing schools.

This year saw some changes in the Ohio program. Most notable is a narrower focus on boosting reading skills - primarily among kids in grades k-4, but also to older kids at risk of dropping out.

"We have too many third graders that are not proficient in reading on the OAA," says John Charlton of the ohio Department of Education.

"We have 40 percent of our high school graduates who attend public colleges and universities that have to take remedial courses in either reading or math because they didn't get the skills they needed while they were in high school, before they attended college. And these are graduates."

In previous years the Community Learning Centers grants funded only programs in locations outside of schools, the idea being to provide activities and assistance during evenings and weekends, or when school is not in session. This year, in-school programs are also being funded, thanks to a waiver giving the state some freedom from the mandates of No Child Left Behind.

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