Metro receives grant to boost afterschool programs for at-risk students

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 12:20pm
Staff reports

The Wallace Foundation has awarded a $765,000 grant to a Nashville initiative meant to provide free afterschool programs to at-risk Nashville middle school students.

Mayor Karl Dean on Wednesday announced that Metro was chosen among eight other cities to receive a grant from the foundation for the Nashville After Zone Alliance initiative, which currently serves about 400 students.

Through the grant, the program will be able to nearly triple in size and serve an additional 750 students.

“We are investing in afterschool programs because we know that when middle school students have engaging experiences, they are much more likely to stay interested in school and graduate from high school — which is not only good for them, but good for our entire city,” Dean said.

Dean formed NAZA in 2009 as a partnership between the Mayor’s Office and Metro Nashville Public Schools to provide free afterschool programs for students who couldn’t participate in existing programs due to cost or transportation issues. Currently in Metro schools, fewer than 10 percent of low-income middle-school students get an opportunity for safe and enriching afterschool programming.

Programs are run by multiple youth-serving Nashville organizations either onsite at Metro middle schools or at community-based sites. There are currently 18 afterschool NAZA sites that offer academic and enrichment activities, including art and music.

The Wallace Foundation is a New York-based philanthropic organization that states its goal is “to improve education and enrichment for disadvantaged children.

According to Dean, the Wallace grant will help underwrite the launch of a new zone each fall for the next three years, starting with a Northwest Zone next school year for students in the Whites Creek/Pearl-Cohn clusters and a Southeast Zone in 2013 for students in the Cane Ridge/Antioch clusters.

Other cities receiving the grants are Baltimore; Denver; Fort Worth, Texas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Philadelphia; and St. Paul, Minn.