The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) this week announced more than $8.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds will be awarded to 45 after-school programs throughout the state.
The funding, which comes in the form of grants, will establish low-cost and free after-school programs in locations where they don’t currently exist as well as enhance existing programs to more effectively meet the increased needs of students.
“Access to enriching after-school programming fosters students’ social, emotional, and academic growth,” said Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker. “By expanding and enhancing their offerings, as well as providing low-cost and free options for families in need, our providers can improve outcomes for even more students and families.”
“This much-needed funding will help address some of the many impacts COVID-19 has had on our students’ mental health, social-emotional well-being, and academic outcomes,” said CEA President Kate Dias. “Educators know that without adequate supports and interventions in place, many of our students have been struggling. This influx of federal dollars will enable communities to provide those critical services and expand on the work of thousands of teachers, school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other education professionals.”
An additional $2.2 million of state set-aside ARP ESSER funds will support Innovation Grants for underserved communities to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Innovation grants will enable smaller towns, districts, and nonprofit organizations to apply and create innovative after-school programs.