A Set-up for Failure: The Disbursement of 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds in the State of Maryland
As an organization that raises awareness about the issues that affect children, youth and families, this is certainly one of them.
In July 2015, In Reach applied for a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant through the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and was awarded the competitive grant effective September 1, 2015. We were elated to receive our congratulatory letter. Imagine our dismay and shock over six months later that we still have not received one drop of funding and when contacting MSDE, their reply is simply "we are working on it" and funds will be released "immediately".
Several weeks have passed and nothing has been received.
In Reach, like many of the other 21st CCLC grantees, work with some of the most underserved and at-risk children and families and being located in Prince George’s County where funding is already scarce has made this a very difficult experience. It should never take this long for an agency to disburse funds. This would be an unacceptable practice in any other business structure. Why is it that an agency that has been disbursing 21st CCLC funds for years, still lacks the ability to execute funding in a timely and efficient manner?
The implementation of an afterschool program does not happen in one day. It takes at least four weeks to get a program up and running and that's with everything in place so not receiving funding in a timely manner sets organizations up for failure. With an understanding that the grant is retroactive to its start date of September 1st, In Reach decided to move forward with implementing its K-8 College and Career Ready 21st CCLC afterschool programming at three schools with the goal of operating for the proposed seven months. Expecting some type of delay, we could not have imagined that it would take over six months to receive funding for the almost 200 students that we serve, their families, our afterschool teachers, and staff.
This is unacceptable. We need funds to be released now! 21st CCLC grantees have invested everything into their programs and many, like In Reach, will not be able to continue serving children who need afterschool programs the most. This is an atrocity and an injustice. We have been set up to fail.
In Reach, Inc., is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that prepares students for college, work and life. In addition to providing direct services, we raise awareness about the issues that affect children, youth and families.
The Maryland State Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Program is managed by the Office of Extended Learning.