Homework help. Swimming, Yoga. Arts. Rocket science. These are just a few of the options families and kids in Jacksonville, Florida and the surrounding Duval County can find after school.
There’s a reason the area has such a robust array of afterschool programs: public agencies united in a commitment to support kids. A grant from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative played a key role, serving as a catalyst for a large-scale expansion of afterschool in the community. Local governments responded by building on the federal contribution.
The first 21st CCLC grant came in 1998. It generated more than just money; it helped drive a model of intergovernmental cooperation. That first grant to Duval County supported a partnership between the county school district, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and the nonprofit Communities in Schools. The district submitted the grant application, the Children’s Commission distributed the grant money through a competitive application process, and nonprofit organizations that received the grants ran afterschool programs serving local children. Jacksonville’s participating afterschool programs, brought together under the banner of “TEAM UP,” built on the 21st CCLC investment, diversifying support and securing funding from the city, the school district and the federal Safe and Drug Free Schools Program.
The model proved successful and effective. The program quickly expanded from its original four sites in 1998, adding nine schools in 1999 and nine more in 2001. And as 21st CCLC funding expired, other funding sources stepped up to the plate to continue what federal dollars had helped launch.
In 1998, some 800 students participated in afterschool programs. Today, 5,000 young people attend TEAM UP programs. Three schools in Duval County receive 21st CCLC funds, and a total of 26 schools offering TEAM UP programming with the participation of nine separate nonprofit agencies.
Without the 21st CCLC dollars, Jacksonville would not have had the seed money to start our TEAM UP afterschool programs and expand them in our community,” says Laurie Bourdon, Coordinator, Alternative Education / Safety Nets, Duval County Public Schools. “These Centers have given us the opportunity to create places where neighborhoods, schools and community resources can ‘TEAM UP’ to positively impact students, their families and the surrounding neighborhoods.”
TEAM UP has also spurred the creation of other programs. Some 20 afterschool programs unaffiliated with TEAM UP have taken root in middle schools in the area. In addition, many elementary schools in the community now offer extended day programs.
With buy-in and support from mayor, superintendent, the school system, and other city leaders, and with constant tracking of the success of students, the Duval County TEAM UP program has been able to consistently make the case for its continued existence and funding. The job is not finished, of course; there are still children who do not have access to afterschool. But Duval County has made great strides.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Duval County was one of the first communities to be awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant to support its afterschool programs. The federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative has just marked 10 years of supporting community afterschool programs. Today, it remains the only federal funding source dedicated to afterschool programs.