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CASE Partnership Project Makes Impact Among At-Risk Students Enrolled in 5Works Afterschool Program in Alief Apartment Complex

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At an apartment complex in Alief, an afterschool program run by a nonprofit is being infused with $10,000 in matching funds by the CASE for Kids Partnership Project. Supported through community partners like Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids), children enrolled in the program are advancing academically and getting emotional help during COVID-19. Twenty-nine nonprofits and schools with comprehensive afterschool programs gained their share of $550,000 in funding from the Partnership Project for the 2020-2021 school year as awardees were announced by CASE for Kids. Award amounts ranged from $10,000 to $30,000. Awardees provide a 25 percent funding match. View the list: https://tinyurl.com/PartProject20. The Partnership Project is a 21-year-old program founded by HCDE’s CASE for Kids which fills afterschool funding gaps through a unique collaboration between local, state and federal partners. Partnership Project provides funding through CASE for Kids, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Workforce Commission. Eligibility requires the program to be a comprehensive, 12-hour program which operates five days a week.

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Aims of the Partnership Project are to provide supplemental funding to comprehensive afterschool programs for disadvantaged students ages 4-12 or children with disabilities up to 19. The program promotes social and emotional learning skills and increases support for academic programs promoting math and reading.
“Our goal is to support the afterschool program providers that are working diligently to serve youth and families during this difficult timeframe,” said Dr. Lisa Thompson-Caruthers, CASE for Kids director.
Besides the Partnership Project funding, organizations such as the nonprofit 5Works benefit from staff trainings; access to supplies and materials; and general afterschool support from staff at CASE for Kids. The 5Works Inc. program operates from a one-bedroom apartment at Catalina Apartments and serves economically disadvantaged families of children in grades K-5 from two Alief Independent School District elementary schools.
“It’s a very diverse community with over 60 different languages and dialects spoken,” 5Works Inc. Executive Director Oralia Rios-Williams said. “We currently offer in person and virtual support and engagement options for our kids and families at the Catalina Apartments focused on academic improvement, healthy lifestyles and family involvement.”
Since Alief ISD has been operating virtually, one of the program’s goals has included focusing on teaching parents and children how to connect with the school’s online instruction system. In addition to partnering with CASE for Kids, the afterschool program works in partnership with the school district and local YMCA. “The idea was to add value to apartment complexes where Alief students resided by offering a quality afterschool program which would extend the school day for K-5 students,” Rios-Williams said. Parents work in the program as a mandatory requirement for their child’s eligibility. Local high school students volunteer to help at the complex as well. “The program built community, and we hope it made the complex a little safer,” she said. Besides the social-emotional benefits of community-based afterschool, Rios-Williams says Alief ISD tracks students in the program and has found they are reading at or above their grade level. As Alief ISD students return to school next week, 5Works shifts its focus back on supporting students and parents before and after the school day. Parents will be offered GED, ESL and parenting classes. “This semester we will add writing for the children, beginning with journaling to help them express what they are experiencing with all the changes during this pandemic, and next semester we will do more creative writing,” Rios-Williams said. CASE for Kids Director Caruthers says afterschool is supplying a critical function during a time when so many families feels a sense of isolation. “Afterschool programs can offer children a chance to play, share and explore in ways that foster peer-to-peer connections through positive mentorship,” said Caruthers. For information about CASE for Kids, go to http://www.hcde-texas.org/afterschool-zone. View the list of organizations gaining funding for 2020-2021 through CASE for Kids Partnership Project: https://tinyurl.com/PartProject20. Source: HCDE