The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam has built a good relationship over the years with both the Lebanon and Sweet Home school districts.

Those relationships are going to grow even closer this fall as the clubs launch a new educational program called the 21st Century Community Learning Center.

Kris Latimer, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam, said the organization applied for federal grant funding last spring. These grants are authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, which provides funding for additional student support, especially students and school districts which include a high percentage of low income students.

The Santiam clubs learned in late June that they had been approved for funding, leaving them very little time to get the program up and running for this school year.

Latimer said the initial focus is on students in fifth through ninth grades. The goal is to help these students successfully make the transition to middle school and high school, and build a foundation for academic success.

“Our belief is that every child should have the opportunity to succeed no matter their circumstances,” Latimer said. “It’s for every kid who can use a little extra help.”

The center for fifth and sixth grades will open on October 1 at Pioneer Elementary School and will serve students from Pioneer, Riverview, Cascades and Green Acres. Students who do not attend Pioneer will be bused to that location after school. They will receive extra educational assistance and take part in enrichment activities from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Parents can pick students up at Pioneer when the program is concluded. For families who need more time, the students will be bused to the Lebanon club location where they can be picked up later in the evening.

A middle school program at Seven Oak will also open on October 1. It will offer academic assistance in the mornings from approximately 7:15 to 8:30 a.m. at the school.

The afternoon programming will be offered at The L.O.F.T., the club’s existing location for middle school students. This session will run from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Latimer said middle school students often have more afternoon activities, so the club added a morning session to provide more flexibility.

A program for ninth-graders at Lebanon High School will begin on November 1. Three centers will also be established for Sweet Home students, but the locations have not yet been announced.

Bo Yates, the interim superintendent of Lebanon Community Schools, said this program is a welcome addition to existing programs.

“From the district’s perspective, having some extra support through the grant is fantastic,” Yates said. “We’re on the same team working with our kids and trying to help them to achieve.”

Yates said that while this program is focused on fifth through ninth grades, the district is working to provide similar opportunities for students in all grades.

“At every grade level we have kids that need support,” Yates said.

The grant is for five years, although it must be renewed annually, Latimer said. Over the first three years, the grant will provide $490,000 annually to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam to administer the program. That amount will drop to $367,500 per year for the last two years.

“We’ll work toward finding a way to make these programs stick,” Latimer said.

Latimer emphasized that every dollar of this grant will be used to operate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and none of it will be used to fund current club operations or programs.

There is no charge to families who enroll students in the program. Latimer said the club is working to distribute information about the program to school teachers in Lebanon and Sweet Home. Parents who think this program would be a good fit for their children are encouraged to speak with their teachers.

Applications will be available in the offices at all of the participating schools.

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