Five-year grant allows expansion to North Marion School District, Nuevo Amanecer

LINDSAY KEEFER - (From left) Giovanni Alvarado, Cassandra Gonzalez and Melanie Rios are students in Lincoln Elementary School's After School Club. They work on an arts project with staff member Nola Waage. 
Woodburn School District's After School Club just received a new five-year grant that will enable the program to extend to a neighboring school district as well as to a farmworker housing community.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant allows the After School Club to have a new satellite location at Nuevo Amanecer as well as to expand to North Marion School District, which, until now, has not had after-school opportunities available to students beyond athletics.

"North Marion doesn't have enough kids to support its own grant, and they also didn't feel they had enough manpower and know how," said Stephan Price, instructional services coordinator for Woodburn School District. "We're receiving the funding but it's flowing through to them."

North Marion is piloting the program at just North Marion Middle School this year, and is currently hiring for a site supervisor, a recreation leader and a handful of activity directors. The program needs 25 students in order to take off, according to North Marion Superintendent Ginger Redlinger, who also said the hope is to launch North Marion's after-school program Oct. 22.

Redlinger credits Wendie Wierstra, a North Marion community member who works for the After School Club, as encouraging the districts to work together.

"She said, 'Why don't we invite North Marion to join because we have similar goals,'" Redlinger said. "We're giving time for parents to know their kids are safe in a healthy environment, have access to snacks and perhaps even a dinner before they go home. It's an extended service for the community we haven't had before."

North Marion is also hoping to find activity leaders among its high school students to help with tutoring, robotics and other activities.

"It will, number one, provide a valuable resource that the community wants and needs and, number two, it will start building a pathway where high school students can gain experiences and educational opportunities," Redlinger said.

LINDSAY KEEFER - The After School Club grant provides enrichment activities on iPads for participating students. (From right) Staff member Claire Smith works with Hannah Flores and Esmeralda Canchola.
While North Marion gets the word out and works on reaching its minimum of 25 kids to sign up, Woodburn has a larger number of students who are on a waiting list. The reason? The district is struggling to find employees to staff the program.

"That's our biggest thing we're struggling with," Price said. "We have waiting lists because we don't have enough people applying for work."

Recreation leaders can be as young as 16 years old and work late afternoons to early evenings – an ideal schedule for a high school or college student, or a parent looking for part-time work.

"We can probably get enough people hired so that we have 500 to 600 students across the district attending," Price said.

Students enrolled in After School Club aren't just being babysat. They're involved in enrichment activities, the curriculum for which was derived from OregonASK, Price said. And, of course, it differs at every grade level. After School Club at the high school is more of a homework support program, while the elementary and middle schools have enrichment programs, elective-like classes and clubs, and even field trips.

That K-8 model is what is now available for the farmworker housing families at Nuevo Amanecer.

"They still take the bus home but instead of going into their empty apartment they go (to After School Club)," Price said, noting that not many students were registered there but the first day saw a lot of walk-up signups.

Another pilot program that actually started last year at Nellie Muir Elementary is an academic intervention program in conjunction with After School Club. Through a special fund from the Department of Education, the school can pay teachers and instructional assistants to stick around after school to work with students who need extra academic help. Students enrolled work on their school work, then join the ASC kids for their enrichment programs.

"(ASC) still has academic pieces but it's not as rigorous," Price said. "The whole point is that they're there to have fun, to have access to a bunch of different things, to get extra PE time, as well as a snack and dinner."

This isn't the first time Woodburn School District has been awarded a 21st Century grant for its After School Club. This time, the grant application specifically included migrant student intervention and expansion to another school district, and it's that unique request that allowed the district to receive the grant.

"It was approved because we were trying new things," Price said. "Every time (we apply) we have to tweak it. We made substantial tweaks this year, which I think is why we qualified."

The grant awards $800,000 every year for three years, reducing by 25 percent for the last two years.

"The entirety of everything we're doing is funded outside Woodburn (federal, state and grant funding), so there's virtually no impact from local taxpayers," Price said.

It costs families about $475 a year to enroll their kids into After School Club, which always has scholarships and payment plans available. That being said, students who need the most interventions, such as those who are considered homeless, are moved to the top of the list.

"It's designed to be affordable for everybody who wants to go," Price said.

Lindsay Keefer can be reached at 503-765-1193 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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