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3 area groups awarded 4-year academic grants

– Three area organizations will benefit from four-year grants awarded by the state Department of Education.

Awards range from $100,000 to $300,000 and will be used to provide academic enrichment opportunities for at-risk students. The department announced the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant recipients Thursday.

“I am honored to award these organizations that are working every day to strengthen their communities,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne

Executive Director Joe Jordan said the $150,000 the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne will receive over four years will allow a stronger focus on kids who are struggling academically.

“It’s really, really huge for us,” Jordan said. “It’s an opportunity for us to deepen our impact and move the needle academically.”

The organization will partner with not only with Fort Wayne Community Schools but also Specialty Tutoring and Science Central to offer academic services and a scientists club to get kids interested in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

The additional services will be offered at the club’s current location, 2609 Fairfield Ave., and will begin June 1 to get students ready for the next school year.

Jordan said the center will also hire a director to coordinate the new program, along with additional staff members for implementing it.

Huntington club

The Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County serves mostly high school students, so its $100,000 grant award over four years will target high school students who are at risk for not graduating on time and prepare other students for college or a career after high school, said Mandy Reber, executive director.

A staff member from the club will be based at Huntington North High School to target specific students who might be failing at least one class.

“It will be life-changing for a lot of the kids,” Reber said.

The club will also partner with Huntington County 4-H Robotics to offer interested students the opportunity to participate in the club. The grant money will help pay for registration and membership fees for students willing to make the commitment to the club of four hours a day, five days a week.

Reber said it will help students with public speaking and presenting, engineering, teamwork and time management.


The $175,000 awarded to the Cornerstone Youth Center in Monroeville will allow it to expand its after-school programming into lower grades and into New Haven, said the center’s director, Kent Castleman. The center currently serves students at Heritage Junior-Senior High School.

The grant will establish Cornerstone Connections Project that will be in place at Heritage Elementary School and New Haven Middle School for the upcoming school year.

The project will work with many partners like Junior Achievement, Arts United, East Allen County Schools, a tutoring center and IPFW to offer tutoring, homework help and other STEM-related activities.

The award will nearly double the center’s current operating budget of $225,000, but Castleman stressed that the grant will be used to add programs and that funding is still needed to continue the center’s current operations.

The project will also provide opportunities for two IPFW students to work on the project as part of an internship.