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Free after-school programs coming to Elkhart schools

After-school programs in Elkhart are about to get a huge boost thanks to a grant from the Indiana Department of Education.

The money will help existing programs and create new ones. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Elkhart County received $200,000 , and two schools that don't currently have after-school programs were awarded $225,000 to create one.

Students at Roosevelt Steam Academy are about to get something they really need, an after-school program where where they can continue learning along with some fun activities. Pierre Moran Middle School, which is just a block away, will also benefit.

"Anytime you have a school with 95 percent free and reduced lunch it's obvious that there needs to be some extra time given to students and their learning, and grants help with the extended learning of all students in our school," said Roosevelt Steam Academy Principal Howard Edwards.

Community partners like the University of Notre Dame and the non-profit Child and Parent Services will help create programs so parents can learn as well.

New Program Director Tonda Hines says students will have a safer place to go after school.

"A lot of times parents are working first, second, third shifts, kids are at baby-sitter, or other child care providers, so this is just an opportunity to provide continuity to their learning. I think it's just value added," said Hines.

Educators at Roosevelt say they hope the new program will improve math and literacy skills, but they say it will also be a lot of fun. Music and art will allow kids to bring out their creative sides.

"One of the things this grant will allow is those kids who just have a love for drawing and stuff, they're going to be able to do that stuff also, so that's going to be one of the big draws of the program," said Edwards.

Complete details of the new program still need to be worked out, but they hope to have it rolled out by next fall.

Grant money was also given to the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County and some Michigan City Area Schools.

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