With the support of a $1.5 million grant, elementary students who participate in the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City's after-school programs now can be exposed at an earlier age to science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects.
The local Boys & Girls Club recently received grant funding to introduce STEM programming to youth in grades K-5 at the Frank and Billie Railton Center and to students attending Callaway Hills Elementary School.
Prior to the grant, federally funded and awarded through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the local BGC offered STEM programs only to middle school students.
"We are honored to once again be selected as a 21st Century Community Learning Center," said Stephanie Johnson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City. "Now that we are in our new facility, it is important that we are able to provide impactful, outcome-driven programs that benefit the children of our community."
The money will be used to purchase equipment, supplies and after-school curriculum, as well as the necessary staffing to embed a tutoring program and STEM-based enrichment program at the club, Johnson explained.
The BGC's existing education director will serve as liaison between BGC, the Jefferson City Public School District and local private schools, and will have access to participating children's grades in order to identify areas of deficit by working with their teachers.
"JCPS has been a proud partner of the Boys & Girls Club for numerous years," said Amy Berendzen, district director of school-community relations. "The success of this partnership is again solidified by the receipt of this grant. The efforts of the Boys & Girls Club help the district to fulfill our mission of giving every student hope for a better tomorrow. This grant equips JCPS students to receive STEM program curriculum that is tailored to meet the individual academic needs of each child."
The STEM enrichment program will introduce youth to robotics, engineering projects, 3-D printing technology, science experiments, virtual reality and more. Johnson noted the tutoring programs will focus on improving math and science skills by providing hands-on after-school learning activities.
The grant not only supplies elementary students in Jefferson City an earlier passage into STEM programs but extends the opportunity for students at Callaway Hills Elementary to have BGC after-school programs.
Individualized tutoring and transportation home for children who participate in the after-school program also will be extended to Callaway Hills students.
BGC will hire seven tutors/teachers to work with the children academically, while others will teach programs such as robotics and culinary arts, Johnson explained.
The club also will hire five part-time youth development professionals to work with children at Callaway Hills as well as a full-time education director for the site.
"As an elementary school with one of the highest free and reduced lunch rates in our district, we know the students could benefit from Boys & Girls Club services," Johnson said. "Because DESE is fully funding this site, we can offer these services at no cost to the families."
Currently, Johnson said, BGC serves a few middle school students who live in Holts Summit, but this new grant allows them to have a larger on-site presence in the Holts Summit community.
"The Callaway Hills building staff is super excited about the reception of this grant," Callaway Hills Principal Todd Shalz said. "Our students and families will benefit from having the Boys & Girls Club after-school program at Callaway Hills."
To learn more about applying for one of the Boys & Girls Club's new part-time positions or to volunteer as part of this program, contact the Boys & Girls Club at 573-634-2582 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.