Youngstown schools get grants for reading and college readiness

By Denise Dick


The city school district received $400,000 in additional grant money for after-school programs that focus on literacy and college and career readiness.

The new grants — $200,000 each for the after-school programs at McGuffey Elementary and East High schools — from the Ohio Department of Education are in addition to the $300,000 in continuing grants already in use for after-school programming.

“The old grants were written in partnership with outside agencies or support groups,” said Doug Hiscox, deputy superintendent for academic affairs. “Oftentimes the program itself didn’t have a strong connection to what we had going on during the day.”

The school district reached out to ODE for guidance and designed a program that aligns the after-school emphasis with what the students are studying during the school day.

The district still may rely on support from other agencies but will take the lead in the after-school programming, Hiscox said

Youngstown’s grants are among more than $45 million awarded to 247 schools and community-based programs as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center grants.

The program provides opportunities for children who come from economically disadvantaged families and attend low-performing schools to receive additional academic support. This year’s program focuses more on reading instruction.

Claudia Charity, manager of community of partnerships, said the program at McGuffey will offer more project-based activities while maintaining the focus on reading and math.

“It will be a more real-life kind of curriculum — a little bit more relevant,” she said. “If they’re doing a project in regard to the Rescue Mission, a service project, they’ll be learning the history, going to the mission — integrating the learning in a different way. It’s project-based activity that works with the skills and standards.”

At East, the district will partner with Eastern Gateway Community College and Youth Intensive Services. The program will provide a focus on college awareness and college readiness as well as credit recovery.

Students in need of additional credits will be identified early so they can get help, and Eastern Gateway staff will work with the students to ensure they’re taking the appropriate courses for a particular career or major.

Youngstown also will receive $200,000 for Discovery 3 at East as this year’s installment of a continuing grant originally awarded for an after-school program at the former P. Ross Berry and Wilson middle schools. The Discovery 3 program, new this upcoming school year, is for seventh- and eighth-graders and offers exposure to different types of courses.

Another $100,000, originally awarded for an after-school program at Rayen Early College Middle School and the former Volney Middle School, continues to be used in the program at REC and Discovery at Volney which opens this year.

Though Youngstown is the only Mahoning Valley school district to be awarded new grant money, Warren City’s $200,000 community-learning-center funding continues this year, and money for Brookfield and Niles through Youngstown State University also continues. Each of those programs’ funding is $100,000.

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