SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Some after school and summer programs across the state of South Dakota are at risk of losing grant money next July.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grants support student learning and development. Fourteen programs across the state, and five in Sioux Falls received the federal grants the last week of June. But all of them are at risk of losing that grant money if President Trump is able to push through proposed cuts to the Dept. of Education in his 2019 budget.
Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire’s South Sneve Ave. location is just one of the after school and summer programs on the grant-chopping block.
“The programs that we offer are at minimal or no cost to families and they do get to participate in a number of things,” said Rebecca Wimmer, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of the Sioux Empire.
She says the organization stands to lose about 20 percent of its budget if they lose their 21st Century Community Centers Learning grant.
“Currently we receive about $140,000 a year with our grant and our grant is set to end next July,” Wimmer said. “That comprises about one-fifth of our budget.”
That money goes toward programming for about 150 kids who come through the doors of the S. Sneve Ave. club each day. They get help with homework, learn about fine art and photography, experiment with art materials and much more.
“We also have our STEM room, where the kids get to participate in doing our garden and then use the produce from our garden and they can take that and they have cooking lessons four days a week,” Wimmer said.
Wimmer said the kids also get to take produce they grow home and share their new skills with their family.
Balancing checkbooks, earning income and job shadowing opportunities are also all available for teens. While the city has enough programs available, it’s short on slots in these types of after school opportunities — particularly for teens — by a lot.
“We could use about 4,000 more slots for those children during out of school hours,” said Candy Hanson, President of Sioux Falls Thrive.
Hanson said that’s because about 84 percent of kids in Sioux Falls where both parents are working.
“That's almost 20 percent more than the national average --65 percent-- so these programs that operate when school's out are super important,” Hanson said.
Once families and children in after school and summer programs have come to rely on them, Hanson said threatened cuts could put a lot of pressure on the organizations that provide those service.
“And the big thing is, those 21st Century grants and the program evaluations can demonstrate they help academic achievement, they reduce teen pregnancy, they reduce problems with juvenile justice, it's not just that it's good for the kids, and it is, but they also prevent a lot of problems.”
The cuts are just proposed for now. Wimmer said Boys & Girls Club doesn’t want say they wouldn’t be able to serve kids if they lose that portion of their budget and that they would try to come up with other ways to fund the programs.