Audubon School District Gets Grant to Continue Launch Program | Lifestyle

AUDUBON – The Audubon Community School District will be able to continue to run the Launch Kids Program for after-school and summer programming for Audubon Elementary, thanks to a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.

Principal Sam Graeve said Audubon Elementary applied for funding allowing the school to continue to operate for up to the next five years. Notification was received Wednesday evening and the program will receive $ 74,000 for the next three years and 75% of that amount in years four and five. The total for all five years of the grant is $ 334,530. Students participating in the program are not charged to attend, which may change in the future to build sustainability in years four and five and beyond.

Initially the Audubon Community School District (CSD) received a federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program to provide out of school programming during the school year and through summer break for the 2016-2017 school year. At that time, the school district and other community stakeholders determined a need for out-of-school programming and care for students in the community with working parents.

A review of local day care centers online and interviews with Audubon residents revealed there is one community-based child care center that serves infant through pre-school age clients. Other options included in-home child care providers which stakeholders described as limited based on the number of students who would need to utilize the care. Community members including parents and grandparents saw the need for additional after-school programming to ‘fill the gap between day care and being able to stay home alone.’

Stakeholders defined the need as ‘providing students with a safe and age-appropriate option when parents were not available outside of school hours.’ During the 21-22 school year the grant was not available, but the school was committed to continuing the after-school program using ESSER III funds to provide after-school care and meet the needs of families and the community.

The program operates on school days from 3: 30-6: 30 pm Monday-Friday, and Wednesdays from 2: 15-5: 30 pm Historically, the summer program runs Monday-Friday 9 am-5pm Both programs are available for students in kindergarten through fourth grade and are run from the grounds of Audubon’s elementary school building. The program is staffed by Audubon (CSD) with five paid positions including a program director, lead associates and support staff.

A typical day has approximately 35 kids participating, with a range of 21-59. The Launch after-school program includes a healthy snack, physical activities like outdoor play, yoga, sports games, academic support through homework help or tutoring, STEM activities, arts and crafts activities and social interactions with peers. Traditionally, the summer program also includes healthy snacks and meal, physical activities, academic support, STEM, arts and crafts, social interactions and additional community and some statewide field trips to places like community pools, the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Science Center of Iowa , community libraries and more. The grant allows Audubon CSD to provide these services to many students who may come from low- or limited-income families and provide these students with experiences or opportunities that may not be available otherwise. While many low- or limited-income families participate in the program, there is no income requirement for attendance. The program is open to all students, but priority is given to those households with limited incomes.

Email Laura Bacon at lbacon.ant@gmail.com

This story contains original reporting by the Audubon County Advocate Journal staff. If you are not a subscriber, please consider becoming one because local journalism is only possible with your support. A subscription to Audubon County Advocate Journal plays a vital role in making this reporting possible. Thank you for your support and helping us continue to connect our community.

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