Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District recently received a 21st Century Learning grant for $2.1 million over five years, which will be used to subsidize scholarships and transportation to help dozens more kids get after-school care.

Why it matters

  • Thousands of kids don't have a place to go after school – a 2018 Augustana Research Institute study estimated between 4,000 and 6,000 elementary-aged kids don't have access to after-school programs.
  • Often, the barriers to after-school care are cost and transportation, said Rebecca Wimmer, who coordinates after-school programs for the Sioux Falls School District. This grant will remove both of those barriers.
  • Once in an after-school program, these kids can also receive access to additional community services from nonprofits, health systems, food security efforts and more, Wimmer said.
"This is that first step in getting them into an after-school program place and then we can wrap around those services," she said.

Who will the grant help?

The grant will allow an additional 105 kids to participate in the district's after-school program, Kids Inc.

  • Funding will include their tuition and necessary transportation, Wimmer said.

The district also received a $250,000 grant from United Way, which means a total of 190 students will have scholarships for the Kids Inc. program this year.

And, the district is already talking with and looking for donors to help keep these scholarships going when grant funds run out.

The federal 21st Century Learning grant is designated to help kids at four specifically targeted schools:

  • Anne Sullivan Elementary
  • Laura B. Anderson Elementary
  • Garfield Elementary,
  • and the Elementary Immersion Center at Jane Addams

These schools have a high percentage of kids who come from low-income families, and the hope is the scholarships will help kids who wouldn't otherwise have access to an after-school program.

What happens next?

These scholarships are just one part of a much broader community-wide effort to address the needs for after-school care.

A community collaborative of various local nonprofits and stakeholders is working to combine existing after-school programs into a comprehensive program, Wimmer said.

  • More partnerships are likely to be announced as the school year unfolds.

The district is also looking to hire an additional eight to 10 after-school teachers to accommodate these extra 190 kids in the Kids Inc. program, Wimmer said.

And, the collaborative as a whole is looking for community involvement and support.

"We really are asking our community to wrap their arms around our kids," she said.