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January 24, 2002
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Lea Ann Johnson, CLC Coordinator, 436-1964 Bonnie Coffey, Women’s Commission, 441-7716

City Receives Grant for Community Learning Centers
Mayor's summit on school and community partnerships set for January 31

Mayor Don Wesely today announced that the City of Lincoln has received a grant to assist in establishing and maintaining Community Learning Centers (CLCs). The city now has 13 CLCs, which are partnerships based in schools or other community locations where neighborhood teams plan, implement or expand projects that meet the community's needs. The 30-month technical assistance grant is from the National League of Cities' (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families. While no monetary value is associated with the grant, it enables the city to access national experts in establishing and sustaining CLCs and underwrites site visits to other cities which have received similar grants.

"We have a great school system, but every system has students who need more help and support than others," said Mayor Wesely. "We need a coordinated, community effort to address this achievement gap. The partnerships and collaboration offered by the Community Learning Centers have enormous potential. By supporting and sustaining these Centers, we are supporting and sustaining our neighborhoods and families, while giving students greater opportunities to succeed in school."

The future of CLCs is the focus of the Mayor's Summit on School/Community Partnerships from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, January 31 at the Cornhusker Conference Center.

Lincoln is one of only eight cities to receive the NLC grant from a pool of more than 60 applicants. Other cities receiving the grants are Charlotte, North Carolina; Fort Worth, Texas; Fresno, California; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Spokane, Washington; and Washington, DC. The initiative is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

"Through the CLC partnerships, we provide the opportunities and support services that lead to improved student learning and youth development, stronger families and healthier neighborhoods," said Lea Ann Johnson, who coordinates the initiative with Cathie Petsch.

Typical activities at the CLCs include educational programs in math, literacy, technology and parenting skills. Also offered are integrated health, social service, recreation and cultural programs.

"Evaluations of CLCs elsewhere in the country are showing that the Centers are helping kids achieve and keeping them safe," said Wesely. "Specific findings point to better attendance, improved math scores, improved social skills and higher aspirations."

The effort to create the CLC infrastructure is a collaborative partnership among the City of Lincoln, Lincoln Public Schools, the Lincoln Public Schools Foundation, human service organizations and business and community leaders.

The project began during the 2000-2001 school year when the LPS Foundation began a three- year CLC initiative funded by grants from the Lincoln Community Foundation and the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority. Pilot CLCs were initiated at five sites with coordinators provided and partially funded by human service agencies:

  • Elliott Elementary, coordinated by the YMCA;
  • Clinton Elementary, coordinated by Cedars Youth Services;
  • Saratoga Elementary, coordinated by Family Services;
  • Pershing Elementary and Mickle Middle School, coordinated by the Northeast Family Center; and
  • West Lincoln Elementary, coordinated by Family Services. This site was funded independently and worked in collaboration with Goodrich Middle School.

In June 2001, Lincoln Public Schools was awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant by the U.S. Department of Education. The $2.3 million grant was awarded over three years and provided funds to develop programs to increase community access to school building services and to provide before- and after-school activities. New programs include homework help clubs, arts academies, adult GED classes and media center opportunities.

The 21st Century grant also allowed for the expansion to additional sites: Lefler and Hawthorne Middle Schools and Holmes, Huntington, Hartley and Riley Elementary Schools. In the past six months, about 1,500 people have received services at the CLCs.

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