JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff
OGDEN — Thanks to a hefty $430,000 grant from the Utah Legislature, a successful initiative in Roy is about to duplicate throughout the Wasatch Front.
The Boys and Girls Club Weber-Davis has had success doing its part with keeping kids in school and graduating. Now the Boys and Girls clubs throughout the Wasatch Front have received a large award to remake the successful Roy program.
The award came from federal funding given to the state and is now earmarked for a program that will target at-risk youth.
“This is one of the key things you can do to help break inner-generational poverty,” said Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, who sponsored the effort to obtain the funding.
“It’s for those kids that don’t have a chance. Their parents maybe are high school dropouts. Their time is spent on the streets after school. Here is a program that brings them in.”
At the heart of the award is a 2-year-old program geared toward the Roy cone, students from 11 Roy elementary and high schools, Schultz said. That program was funded jointly with $250,000 offered by local philanthropist and businessman Alan Hall and matching funds from the state, Shultz said.
That project touts a change from a 29 percent truancy rate to less than 10 percent, as well as increased graduation rates at Roy High.
Kate Bideaux, executive director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis, said a part of the $500,000 Roy cone initiative included an after-school tutoring program for elementary students that now takes place at the Boys and Girls Club Roy site.
“Principals identify up to 10 at-risk kids that have a low grade in reading,” she said. Once identified and incorporated into the program, the kids receive a wide array of services including healthy snacks, character building programs, service projects and fun activities after school, in addition to the tutoring.
Twice a week, the kids get taken out for the one-on-one STAR Reading Program administered by high school students who are hired by Boys and Girls Club of Weber-Davis, often as their first jobs.
Those students also receive many other opportunities besides the tutoring.
“We identify underrepresented kids in the middle who want to go on to college and need that first job,” Bideaux said. “They become our teen club members.”
She said in the teen club, the high school students are taught career readiness skills that help them become college- and career-ready.
“We take them on weekly visits to universities and career sites,” Bideaux said. “We try to do more than just give them a job. We have a mentor who works with the kids.”
Besides helping the younger kids by enabling the older kids, the program also focuses on tracking the kids’ attendance rates at school and working with those kids who are missing school.
“We focus on those entering the pipeline who are at risk and those getting ready to leave the program who are at risk,” Bideaux said. “At the center is an alignment between the school day and our after-school program, so we know who the highest need kids are and get them in our program.”
Bideaux said many partnerships are behind the success of the program.
Besides the Boys and Girls Club are AmeriCorps volunteers – who track success and need for services – schools and the Department of Workforce Services, which has provided funding for training.
“Now that we are communicating with the schools and they are referring them to our program, we are able to better meet the needs of our kids,” Bideaux said. “They get to do so many fun things and the tutoring is part of that day.”
To implement the program in many locations, Bideaux is working with the Utah Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs.
Bob Dunn is the chairperson for the Utah Alliance and will help with the implementation, she said.
“Bob has the experience with expanding to other programs,” she said.
“We’re hoping to do this at nine different locations,” Dunn said. “We can make dollars go far. We’ve done this with other types of grants. We’re taking our responsibility very clearly because it’s taxpayers’ dollars.”
Dunn said the new programs would start up at the beginning of next school year, Boys and Girls Clubs.
“We do have a standard model but every community will be different,” Dunn said. “We want to still have flexibility in the communities so it still works for them.”
Dunn said the Boys and Girls Clubs were thrilled for the future success of the program.
“Every club in the state will do education programs and power hour,” he said. “Kids will be able to complete their homework and we will make sure they will get help and can advance to the next grade.”