LYNDONVILLE — Last year, the Kingdom East Afterschool Program (KEAP) was selected to receive $66,975 in funding from the Afterschool for All Grant program. Administered by Vermont Afterschool in partnership with Vermont’s Child Development Division, over $600,000 was distributed to 12 projects across Vermont out of 101 letters of interest submitted.
The money has enabled the implementation of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Adventure Program (https://dbush450.wixsite.com/stemadventure) that brings these subjects to Kingdom East School District (KESD) students in a fun and engaging manner. While the COVID-19 pandemic altered original plans, the program has thrived.
This year alone, the STEM Adventure Program has sent home hundreds of take-home kits to students over school breaks and offers virtual Zoom Clubs on a variety of topics (from engineering to animals) five days per week. In the new year, KEAP will launch a weekly STEM Thinking Challenge and free virtual family programs. The latter kicks off with a Wednesday evening Astronomy Club led by the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium’s Bobby Farlice-Rubio starting on Jan. 6.
“This program brings our students totally new opportunities,” Anne Hatch, director of 21C Afterschool Programs for the KESD, said. “We’re fortunate to have received this grant, and we’re fortunate to have a staff that can adapt to changing circumstances and still deliver incredibly high quality programming.”
Funding for the grant program comes from one-time tobacco settlement funds allocated by the Vermont Legislature to the Agency of Human Services in 2018. Priority was given to programs that increase access for low-income children and youth; create or expand options in under-served areas of the state; serve adolescents and teens; and/or foster skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Afterschool and summer learning programs for children and teenagers are in demand across Vermont. With 77 percent of Vermont kids ages 6-18 having all available parents in the workforce, these programs are crucial for working families. Studies show that quality after-school programs boost kids’ school attendance, engagement in learning, and likelihood of attending college. They also help kids develop social and emotional skills, like problem solving and cooperation — and they help prevent risky behaviors.
KEAP provides creative academic, enrichment and recreational activities to all students within the KESD. Visit the KEAP Facebook page (“Kingdom East Afterschool Programs - KEAP”) or contact Anne Hatch for further information (firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-626-4731). You can also access free online resources through the KEAP Family Website: https://sites.google.com/kingdomeast.org/keap.
Vermont Afterschool is a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to support organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society. Visit www.vermontafterschool.org for further information.