5th Quarter funding coming to JP programs

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

Boston After School & Beyond, an organization that focuses on providing support for youth after-school and summer programs, is set to provide grants and funding for programs with ties to the neighborhood.

Specifically, through the 5th Quarter of Learning initiative, Boston After School & Beyond is sending out grants totaling $250,000 to six programs. The programs getting a share of the total include ACEDONE, Art Heals, Beantown Panthers, Breakthrough Greater Boston, Center for Arabic Culture, and Courageous Sailing.

Chris Smith, Executive Director of Boston After School & Beyond, indicated that funding is disseminated from two sources, one of which is the 5th Quarter of Learning.

In email correspondence with the Gazette, Smith wrote that the 5th Quarter of Learning, which he described as the “reinvention of summer school,” is co-managed between Boston After School & Beyond and Boston Public Schools (BPS).

“Programs provide students in grades K-8 with full day programs that combine academics and enrichment, five days a week, for five weeks,” wrote Smith.

“Typically, BPS teachers work with students the first two hours of the day with the remainder spent in enrichment, ranging from sailing to basketball,” he added.

Additionally, Smith explained that the approach mentioned above was included in the “largest national study ever” regarding summer learning by RAND.

Smith wrote that the study showed “high attending students outperform their peers in math, English language arts, and social and emotional skills.”

To Smith, providing this funding to local programs is a proven investment. “This funding
represents opportunities for kids that will pay off over a lifetime,” said Smith.

“It’s a proven investment that gets results in academics and skills and has the additional benefit of making the entire community a classroom for young people where they can explore, make new friends, develop confidence and curiosity based on their interests,” he added.

In speaking with representatives from a couple of the programs slated to receive funding, one theme stuck out — gratefulness.

One program set to receive funding is the Beantown Panthers, a mentorship program that uses the fundamentals of basketball to get kids involved.

“We do skills and drills training as an icebreaker with the basketball, and then we really get the time to know our kids that come in, and we follow them and track them through school and make sure they get it done,” said Winford Mcrae, the program’s Founder.

Mcrae, a former college basketball player, explained that Beantown Panthers was put together with the help of a friend, the late Shamika James.

“I’m a former college basketball player, and I know I needed resources when I was coming out that I was unable to get that would help me further in life. So this is basically my gift back to my community to help some of the future ball players and future kids get to where they need to go in life,” said Mcrae.

As part of the program, kids get breakfast, take part in academics, and have lunch. Then, following lunch, the basketball portion begins.

Speaking about the funding, Mcrae said it would be a huge help and would be used for things like guest speakers and lecturers and trips for the kids.

“It means the world because it gives me and my team the opportunity to help some kids that are really, really less fortunate that really need some guidance,” said Mcrae.

If you would like to learn more about Beantown Panthers, visit https://sites.google.com/beantownpanthers.com/web/home?authuser=0.

Another program slated to receive funding is Courageous Sailing, which has existed since 1987 and uses sailing to bring kids together and “as a platform for fostering social, emotional growth, resilience, problem-solving, confidence, independence,” according to Jen Bodde, the program’s Education Director.

While the program has roots in Charlestown, it has also been involved with Jamaica Plain since the mid to late 2000s, doing sailing and boating on Jamaica Pond.

Courageous Sailing’s Swim Sail Science Program — its 5th Quarter Program — has been a staple in Charlestown since 2012, and just last year, that program was introduced in Jamaica Plain with the help of Boston After School & Beyond and the Curtis Hall Community Center.

As part of the program, academics are combined with swimming and sailing. For example, Bodde talked about how the students work on certain academic subjects like English language arts and math. This year’s curriculum is based on environmental science.

Moreover, the kids do hands-on science and then can go sailing, kayaking, and more or learn to swim at the Curtis Hall Community Center.

“Last year ended up being awesome, and so we’re really excited to do it again,” said Bodde.

As for what the funding will provide to the program, Bodde indicated that the biggest expense was staff and that funding like this enables the program to run.

She also said, “Funding for these programs allows JP students not just to build relationships with peers and courageous mentors, but — in many cases — to receive support year-round from the teachers they depend on during the school year.”

As for what the funding means to the program, Bodde said, “It is transformative for us. I mean, we couldn’t do what we do without Boston After School & Beyond and Boston Public Schools.”

She also discussed the strong desire to better serve kids in Jamaica Plain and said, “It’s all about equitable access.”

For more information about Courageous Sailing, visit https://courageoussailing.org/.

While this funding is excellent news for local organizations, more is slated to come soon. “An additional six JP programs, serving more than 500 kids, have applied for $100,000 in state funding, which will be released later this month,” wrote Smith.

For those looking for kids’ programs throughout the city, visit Boston After School & Beyond’s program locator at https://bostonbeyond.org/after-school-programs/.

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