Dunkirk lands $454,000 for after-school programs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $2.5 million in Empire State After-School Program funding has been awarded to four high-need school districts in Western New York, one of which is Dunkirk.

The Dunkirk City school District was awarded $454,400 to serve 284 children. Schools and Community Partners receiving funding include: School 3, School 4, School 5, School 7, Dunkirk Middle School, Jamestown Community College, the Boys & Girls Club, Erie 2 BOCES, Chautauqua Opportunities, Buffalo Zoo, Chautauqua Alcohol Substance Abuse Council, Botanical Gardens, and SUNY Fredonia.

“An investment in our children is an investment in the future of this state,” Governor Cuomo said. “These after-school programs will help ensure young New Yorkers in high-need school districts receive the guidance they need, while helping bring positive change to these communities and laying the foundation for a stronger New York for all.”

Research has shown that after-school programs are associated with lower school drop-out rates and a reduction in juvenile crime. School districts receiving funding are in communities with high rates of child poverty and many are in communities designated under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. Additional research has shown that children enrolled in high-quality after-school programs have better peer relations, emotional adjustment, conflict-resolution skills, and overall conduct in school, as well as higher scores on standardized tests in math, reading, and language arts. Quality after-school programs have also been found to have a $3 return on investment for every dollar spent.

Along with Dunkirk, other school districts receiving funds include the Buffalo City School District ($1,416,000); Friendship Central School District ($240,000); and the Niagara Falls City School District ($464,000).

The Governor first announced the availability of funds in May, which will support the creation or expansion of after-school programs in high-need school districts statewide. Administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the four Western New York school districts will receive annual installments for the five-year grant period.

The Empire State After-School Program funding builds on Governor Cuomo’s continued commitment to advance education across the state. This year alone, funding for education increased 4.1 percent in Western New York, delivering $2.3 billion to schools throughout the region. These investments have led to a growth in graduation rates across New York, including a 62 percent graduation rate in Western New York in 2017, up from 53 percent in 2014.

Funding for New York’s Community Schools initiative also received an increase in funding this year, with an additional $50 million to support children and families across the state, and increased access to services including health care, elder care, nutrition education, job training and counseling.

Dr. James Tracy, Dunkirk Superintendent, said, “Our students pass through school halls each day and it is our duty to ensure they are receiving the best education possible to ensure their success. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, our school district now has access to critical resources to keep every student’s momentum going strong through after school programs designed to meet the needs of each school. I look forward to witnessing the continued growth and success of every student in our community.”

State Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “This funding will provide thousands more children in our state with a safe, supported and nurturing place to go after school, which gives parents peace of mind while providing students with an environment that will contribute to their academic and social success.”

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said, “A child’s development doesn’t stop when the school bell rings at the end of the day, and neither should our support of that learning,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “After-school programs, like those funded by these grants, are a critical piece of the effort to provide equitable learning to all of our children and offer families additional support they need to make sure students are prepared for successful futures.”

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, “The research is clear. Strong afterschool programs provide a wide range of benefits for children, families and their communities. These programs can enhance academic performance, improve classroom behavior, reduce unhealthy and risky behaviors, encourage physical activity and good dietary habits, and provide a safe and supportive environment for the children of working parents. I applaud the Governor and the legislature for making these benefits available to so many children and families across the State.”

Senator Carl L. Marcellino, Chair of the New York State Senate Education Committee, said, “We have seen time and time again the positive impact after school programs have on our students. By providing increased opportunities for learning in a safe environment, children our given the choice of pursuing constructive progress instead of destructive mistakes. Anytime we have the resources to add significant seats to these programs, we must. I commend Governor Cuomo for his dedication to these efforts and look forward to doing even more next year.”

Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said, “I am very excited about the progress that we are making for students across our state. Educators, parents and stakeholders all agree that the hours immediately following the end of the school day are among the most difficult for working families who struggle to access resources for their children. This funding will not only provide peace of mind, it will ensure that there are safe and rewarding options within reach of the students and families who need it most. I want to thank our partners in government and all of the hardworking educators and advocates for their tireless efforts to promote success for New York’s students.”

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