Special to the Record
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley today announced the distribution of over $1.4 million in grants to after-school and out-of-school time (ASOST) programs across the region. The funding is part of a two-year grant awarded to the region’s largest United Way and six other organizations by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The grants aim to help programs rebound following challenges encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Funding will be used for a variety of needs, such as workforce compensation, professional development, transportation, supplies and materials, mental health services, enrichment, and more. United Way will provide ongoing support, training, technical assistance, professional development, and fiscal management to ASOST programs. Funding supports strengthening quality of services and expanding access to enrichment opportunities, which will in turn improve educational and social emotional outcomes of youth.
“After-school and out-of-school time programs are more critical than ever as we recover from the pandemic’s impact on learning and ensure students remain engaged in their education,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “We’re pleased to be able to support our community partners with funding for their programs this past school year and this coming summer, allowing youth throughout our region to access high-quality, supportive learning environments beyond the school day.”
United Way administered grants to ASOST programs serving students in Kindergarten through grade 12, particularly agencies with a demonstrated history of providing comprehensive youth programming with a racial and trauma-informed lens, to ensure organizations align with United Way’s mission and values.
Programs are culturally responsive, antiracist, advance equitable outcomes, and promote social emotional skills like critical thinking, self-management, social awareness, relationship building, communication, teamwork, organizational skills, perseverance, and enrichment opportunities. Agencies receiving the funding serve children and families in the communities of Beverly, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Peabody, Quincy, Randolph, Revere, Salem, Somerville, Westwood, Weymouth, and Winthrop.
“The support from United Way has allowed us to serve more children in the communities that we serve. Without this funding, many children would not be able to access high-quality, financially accessible programming for the summer,” said Dr. Jennifer Curtis, Executive Director of South Shore Stars. “Our collaboration with United Way has allowed us to impact children and families while ensuring programming that provides resources to meet the social and emotional needs of the whole child as well as needs of their family. South Shore Stars is beyond grateful for this collaboration!”
“The pandemic knocked our immigrant community off its feet – quickly and devastatingly. Our young people are so resilient, but still, they are among the most impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns, economic impacts creating food and housing insecurity, and illness and death among loved ones from the virus,” said Gladys Vega, Executive Director of La Colaborativa in Chelsea. “We have committed to keeping our young people engaged in positive learning and community building throughout the pandemic and we are grateful to have new resources available now through ASOST-R grants to bolster mental health supports and program quality.”
Organizations awarded grants include: Agassiz Village, Beverly Children’s Learning Center, Breakthrough Greater Boston, Cambridge Camping Association, Camp Fire North Shore, Inc., Communities Together, Inc., Community Action for Safe Alternatives (CASA), East End House, For Kids Only Afterschool, Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell, Girls Incorporated of Lynn, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Gregg Neighborhood House, Hoops and Homework, Just Right Child Care, La Colaborativa, Lowell Art Association, Lowell Community Health Center, Mill City Grows, Mystic Learning Center, Inc., New American Association of Massachusetts, Quincy After School Child Care, Inc., Raw Art Works, and South Shore Stars.
United Way is the largest private funder of OST programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, providing unrestricted and programmatic grants to over 100 organizations annually. Through its investment in OST programs and initiatives, United Way has prioritized holistic youth development programs serving historically marginalized students.