Longietti: Grant will fund expansion of afterschool program for area elementary school students

HARRISBURG, June 5 – A $375,000 grant will allow United Way of Mercer County to expand a popular afterschool program to reach area elementary school students in four school districts, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, and the United Way of Mercer County announced today.

Longietti said the federally funded grant – part of a package of 21st Century Community Learning Center grants administered by the state Department of Education – will provide important academic and other opportunities for elementary students in the Farrell, Hermitage, Sharpsville, and Sharon City school districts, including Artman, Farrell, Ionta, Musser, Case, Sharpsville, and West Hill elementary schools.

“I’m delighted that we were able to help secure this funding, which will allow United Way of Mercer County to expand its popular afterschool middle school program to include grade school students,” Longietti said. “Programs like these, which reinforce core concepts and broaden learning opportunities, are especially helpful because they can level the playing field for students facing obstacles and ensure every kid gets the best possible start, which can make a huge difference later on.”

Lori Schaller, project director for United Way of Mercer County’s 21st Century Learning Center Program, echoed Longietti’s sentiments.

“The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant provides a unique opportunity to offer dynamic learning experiences to our students, and we are looking forward to working with our school district partners to implement enriching afterschool programs,” Schaller said.

Executive Director Jim Micsky of UWMC said: “This is truly an exciting time for Mercer County students, who will benefit tremendously from this learning experience. United Way board members and volunteers continue to refine our Community Impact work and believe that 21st Century educational grants will help define our future workforce.

“This grant will encourage students to experience STEM learning projects and career development opportunities during their most influential years. We are fortunate to have such strong partnerships with local school district professionals, state and federal officials, and local businesses to help us develop innovative learning modules that help our students prepare for their future careers.”

Competitive 21st CCLC grants fund establishment of community learning centers to provide students with academic enrichment opportunities. The opportunities must occur during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session to help students attending high-poverty and low-performing schools to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects.