WAYNESBURG – About two years ago, East End United Community Center had to end its longtime after-school programing for students at Margaret Bell Miller Middle School after losing its education grant money.
The center in Uniontown offered programing across the region for more than 40 years, its executive director Matthew Crutchman said, and over the past few years forged a strong partnership with Central Greene School District to offer activities to students there.
When the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant money went away – along with a short-term extension – so, too, did the STEM-based programs, parent nights, after-school socials and project-based activities for the community.
That is expected to change after Crutchman received a phone call Monday notifying him the community center is expected to receive a $307,252 grant, allowing it to restart the programs with Central Greene, along with Albert Gallatin School District in Fayette County, as soon as this fall.
“Now we’ll have a chance to start that up again,” Crutchman said. “As soon as we get a contract from the state that says we can move forward. We would like to start it in early October, but there are many factors going into that.”
Without the official contract, however, Crutchman said it is too early to discuss what programs will be available for students at the middle school and at the center’s Uniontown location, but it could be similar to previously offered activities.
“It will be an after-school program, but somewhat different,” he said.
He added the community center and Central Greene have “been collaborating closely” through the process – as required to be eligible for the grant – and school district Superintendent Brian Uplinger was pleased to move forward upon hearing the grant news.
“He’s super excited to get things started. We just have to wait for the information,” Crutchman said. “The school district is excellent and awesome to work with, very receptive to us.”
Uplinger could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The grant is through the federal Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program and Pennsylvania Department of Education, which supports community-learning centers that operate during after-school hours. East End’s programs offer elementary students advancement in core subjects, such as reading and math, along with offering literacy and other educational options to the families of those students.
“I applaud the center for enriching academic opportunities with its after-school programs,” said state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, who announced the grant publicly Tuesday. “The grant enables the program to continue its diverse offerings to younger students and their families.”
Coal Center-based Intermediate Unit 1 also received a $400,000 grant for its after-school programs in Greene, Washington and Fayette counties. Across the state, there were 47 programs in 16 counties that received more than $15 million in grants this week.