The Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Arkansas State University and its sponsored initiative, the Arkansas Out of School Network, have awarded $11.3 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER III funds to 84 quality afterschool, summer and extended year programs across the state.
The second round of ARP ESSER III federal relief funding was allocated to mitigate student learning loss as a result of the pandemic and support social and emotional development. The maximum award for round two was set at $150,000 to be used September 1 through August 31, 2023. Grants will expand access to quality after school and summer programs in underserved areas of the state as well as provide continued funding for 2021 grant awardees.
Awardees, which include school districts and community-based partnership programs such as public libraries, nonprofit organizations, career and technical programs, faith-based organizations, and institutions of higher learning, will utilize grant awards to address the academic impact of lost instructional time on student learning through evidence-based after school and summer programs.
“Even before the pandemic disrupted all aspects of student life, Arkansas struggled to meet the demand for after school and summer learning programs,” said Laveta Wills-Hale, director of the Arkansas Out of School Network. “For every child in an after school program in Arkansas, three more are waiting to get in. We will continue working tirelessly to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and to ensure all children have access to quality after school and summer learning programs. This funding is a critical resource to communities and programs across our state, and we’ve been able to distribute $18.3 million over the past year through ARP ESSER III funds. We are grateful to the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for its partnership to ensure every child has access to quality after school and summer learning.”
With this announcement, more than $18.3 million in federal funds have been awarded to Arkansas after school and summer learning programs over the last year to ensure students get back on track following the pandemic.
“We are excited to award an additional $11.3 million in funds to much-needed programs that are filling the gap to provide student learning opportunities,” said Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, DESE deputy commissioner. “While there are new grant awards, many of the awardees in this round are receiving additional funds to continue the good work they have been doing. This is evidence of the need and success of these programs, with students benefiting from ongoing collaboration and partnerships.”
The Arkansas Out of School Network, administered by Arkansas State University, is one of the 50 State Afterschool Networks (SANs) working to promote an expansion of school-based and school-linked after school and summer programs serving children and youth ages 5-19. AOSN’s mission is to create safe, healthy and enriching experiences for Arkansas youth during out of school times.