Afterschool and summer programs that help children in northeast Spokane connect with safe recreation activities, literacy and science programs just received a $2 million boost from the federal government.
Since 2018 afterschool programs at northeast Spokane schools have introduced children to swimming lessons, new parks and educational opportunities.
Amber Waldref is the director of the ZoNE, which finds grants and private donors to pay for many of those programs. She said finding long-term funding to sustain after school and summer funding is always a challenge, but said $2 million from the feds will change that.
“Staffing is the biggest challenge. A business will buy pizza, will provide a couple thousand dollars toward field trips, but it’s the staffing cost, and the coordination and having the stability of those coordinators at the school year after year is the challenge to fund. It’s incredible that we have that covered now.”
Le'Andra Myers, the school district's summer school administrator in the northeast, said the funding will help continue many of the programs that help children transition from middle school to high school.
She said this grant will also help in another way. She said the district surveyed children about why they may not participate in afterschool or summer programs, and one of the most common responses was a lack of child care for their younger siblings.
The grant will help the district pay for activities for all children in a family.
“Being able to bring the whole family unit here, and knowing they are safe and fed, and having a good time allows them to participate safe, and actively in our middle school program.”
Myers said these types of programs help children of color, families with low incomes or other barriers be able to catch up if they’re behind in school, or address other barriers to success, especially if they can attend for multiple years.
Summer school is already underway, but families can still sign up to participate. More information is available on the Northeast Community Center and ZoNE websites.