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Housing authorities + quality afterschool: funding a 21st century partnership

By Musa Farmand

Quality afterschool programs that are based in or adjacent to affordable housing communities can guarantee access to a safe and stimulating learning environment for the children of working families who are most in need of such services.  Through the Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in Cleveland, Ohio, and its community partners are providing resident K-8 students with opportunities to achieve their educational goals and engage in positive interactions with the larger community. Below, we showcase CMHA’s 21st CCLC program, explore the unique benefits of housing-based afterschool programs, and highlight other afterschool partnerships that CMHA maintains in order to provide access to quality, affordable afterschool for all of the families they serve.

CMHA’s 21st CCLC Story

CMHA is one of a handful of public housing authorities across the country—and the only authority in the state of Ohio—to receive 21st CCLC funding for afterschool programs serving resident children and youth.  CMHA was awarded its first 21st CCLC grant in 2007, and the program now serves more than 400 K-8 students at four sites that are located in or adjacent to the housing communities where students reside.  CMHA’s 21st CCLC program receives additional funding from the Ohio Department of Education and operates through partnerships with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.  The program provides tutoring, enrichment activities and leadership-oriented programming designed to meet students’ academic and extracurricular needs.  The program is open to families served by CMHA, as well as to families residing in surrounding neighborhoods.

Benefits of Housing + Afterschool

Cost-Effective & Convenient: All of CMHA’s 21st CCLC afterschool sites are located inside the housing developments where students live.  Housing-based afterschool programs like these can offer many cost-effective conveniences for housing and afterschool providers, as well as for resident families.  For example, they avoid the high costs that afterschool providers and school districts often incur when transporting students to and from programs during the evening and summer hours.  Additionally, CMHA and its partners are able to enhance their individual resources by sharing key inputs, such as appropriate facilities, trained program staff and quality curricula.

Serving the Larger Community: In Ohio alone, more than 600,000 K-12 children are left unsupervised afterschool, and national studies have shown that children are more likely to engage in risky behaviors (such as violence and experimentation with drugs and alcohol) between 3 and 6 p.m. CMHA’s 21st CCLC program aims to equip these students with the academic and social-emotional tools necessary to overcome barriers that prevent them from becoming productive and responsible community members. By providing these resources to children and parents, CMHA’s program helps entire families to develop and sustain the resources and tools necessary for economic independence.

Beyond 21st CCLC

Additional Partnerships: In addition to its 21st CCLC program offerings, CMHA has also partnered with many community-based organizations to offer a broad range of afterschool programs and activities in various locations throughout CMHA’s developments.  These programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Math Hoops: partners community organizations with NBA teams to support math readiness and achievement
  • Cleveland Public Theatre “Brick City Theatre” program: provides arts-themed youth enrichment and family events
  • Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation (BPDC): trained staff, funds and opportunities for field trips and professional development, and parent workshops
  • Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts: youth development and leadership activities, funds and opportunities for field trips and parent involvement
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland (BGCC): character education programming, fitness and recreation opportunities, math and reading support
  • Cleveland Public Libraries: activities to promote reading, team building and cooperation, multiple program options for youth to expand their knowledge in literacy, mathematics, robotics, science and technology

Stokes Mall: CMHA operates several afterschool mentoring and adult educational programs, as well as health programs out of the Carl B. Stokes Social Services Mall, a "one-stop shopping" resource for CMHA families and residents of the surrounding neighborhood to have easy access to a broad range of key services (learn more).

For more information on how housing authorities are providing quality afterschool opportunities for kids, check out our webinar recording and previous blog post.