HCN News & Notes

Springfield Grant Provides More Than $1 Million in Summer Youth Programming

SPRINGFIELD —Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced that 15 local organizations received more than $1 million in funding as part of a state grant to the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (SEZP) to support summer enrichment and social-emotional learning for Springfield children.

The research on the importance of summer programming shows that connecting children (and families) with enriching summer activities increases student engagement, reverses conventional learning-loss trends, and builds core life skills. For the second straight summer, SEZP has received funding to support Springfield’s community-based organizations to serve more children during these critical months.

This funding is part of a multi-year grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to support out-of-school learning. In total, SEZP has received $3 million and supported 19 local organizations in afterschool and summer programs.

Sarno and Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick — both members of the SEZP board of directors — have been pleased by SEZP’s continued commitment to supporting students beyond the traditional school day and leveraging local resources to do so.

“We know the importance of our children and families having access to robust and engaging enrichment programming during the summer,” Sarno said. “And in Springfield, we are deeply fortunate to have so many unique organizations in our communities, united in their commitment to supporting our young people. I am proud of SEZP and our community partners for once again teaming up to meet this demand.”

Warwick added that “now, more than ever, we need more and better options for our students during the summer months. SEZP plays an important role in this work, connecting high-quality providers with families eager for a rich summer experience for their children, and securing vital funding in order to serve more of Springfield’s students.”

Matt Brunell and Colleen Curran, co-executive directors of SEZP, noted that “one of SEZP’s founding principles is that students need equitable access to enrichment opportunities both in and outside of school to deepen their love of learning, and the summer months present an extraordinary opportunity to do so. We are grateful to the state for recognizing the importance of this work through their continued allocation of funding and are humbled by their trust in our organization to be stewards of these critical resources for Springfield.”

SEZP — which oversees the selection, evaluation, and measurement of the grant — ran a competitive grant process for community-based organizations for this summer. SEZP made grants to the following 15 Springfield community-based partners, who will serve an expected 750 Springfield students: Academic Leadership Assoc., the Center After School Program, Elms College, Higher Expectations, Hood Girl Collective, Hope for Youth and Families Foundation, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Mass Audubon, New North Citizens’ Council, SIGNING Basics, South End Community Center, Springfield Ballers, Strong Young Minds, Travis Best Foundation, and the Western Massachusetts Council of Boy Scouts of America.

In particular, SEZP is thrilled to fund Hope for Youth’s inaugural Summer Program, which offers an afternoon program five days a week at multiple sites. With programs as diverse as basketball, music, lacrosse, and weightlifting, Hope for Youth’s Summer Program touches on many different interests of students.

“Offering programs to support middle-school youth, while providing paid coaching internship positions to high-school students, helps all members of a family this summer,” said Bob Bolduc, founder of Hope for Youth’s Summer Program. “We could not be more excited about this partnership with SEZP.”