The Albuquerque, New Mexico Public School District serves more than 87,000 children across the city. Before the launch of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the district had limited afterschool programming – a high school dropout-prevention program that was only available for students designated as at risk of dropping out. Similarly, the existing tutoring programs were accessible only to students deemed as needing help, rather than to all those who sought help.
Fortunately, an assistant district superintendent saw in the 21st CCLC initiative a chance to do more. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Analee Maestes wanted to apply for a grant so that afterschool programs could be available for all kids who were interested, rather than just those identified as needing it. Once the funds were awarded, that’s exactly what happened. The district’s original grant supported seven afterschool sites, serving about 3,000 K-12 children. In addition to academics, activities included fine arts, woodworking, folk art, reading, a health clinic, and a mariachi band.
Soon other sites in the district secured 21st CCLC funding, and the district began to receive state funding for more enrichment, physical education, and nutrition programs. The state funding, together with city and county funding, aided in the expansion of 21st CCLC in Albuquerque.
Today, 7,000 students attend afterschool programs, and though space is limited, the programs are available to high- and low-performing students alike. Right now, lack of funding is the program’s only limitation. Programs have tried to charge fees, but parents simply cannot afford the cost. With luck, with the program’s popularity among students and parents, as well its long list of community partners, will continue allow it to attract the financial support it needs to continue to serve the students of Albuquerque.
Says Dr. Maestas, “The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant contributed significantly to quality after school programming in the participating schools in the Albuquerque Public Schools. They truly engaged students, parents, program and school staff as well as community. The key ingredients for success were: the significant funding; the MOTT Foundation’s incredible professional development opportunities and networking, both needed to implement top quality programs; the Regional 21st CCLC Advisory Teams who ensured that the needs of the staff and programs were heard; and finally the staff at the schools, who made the after school programs work for the children they served."