GASD receives grant to offer after school program at three schools

two boys work on science experiment together

The Greater Amsterdam School District has secured a three-year state grant to offer after school learning opportunities to students attending Curie, McNulty and Lynch schools. The program is expected to kick off in the spring.

The latest round of funding for the Empire After School Program was announced in February by the Office of Gov. Mario Cuomo. Amsterdam Schools will receive $372,800 in funding for the first year and a total of $1,118,400 over three years to offer the program locally.

“After school programs help students stay on track and offer a positive and productive place for students to spend their after-school hours, giving parents peace of mind,” Gov. Cuomo said.  “By increasing the availability of after school program slots, we can guide even more students to find the right path to success.”

The district expects to serve about 275 students each year – 100 elementary students attending both the Ralph McNulty Academy and Marie Curie Institute and 75 middle schoolers at the Wilbur Lynch Literacy Academy.

Amsterdam parents will receive more details on the after school initiative, such as how to enroll their students, in the coming weeks. The free program will run for three hours, Monday through Friday, immediately following the conclusion of each school day. It will not be offered during school vacations and holidays. Student transportation home will also be provided and a summer program is being planned through the grant.

The program will be managed and staffed at the participating schools by the Mental Health Association (MHA) in Fulton and Montgomery Counties, which runs similar after school grant programs for Fonda-Fultonville and Gloversville schools.

The program is more than after school daycare but something specifically designed to help children be more successful in school. Research shows that children who participate in quality after school programs have better attendance, higher academic achievement, and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors after the bell rings to close the school day.

“We are excited to receive this support to offer new opportunities for our students,” said Nancy Rad, GASD Community Schools Coordinator. “Students will receive academic support and can explore new activities and interests after the regular school day has ended.”

In addition to tutors being on hand to help students with homework, the program will feature after school enrichment “clubs of the month,” explained MHA Executive Director Janine Dykeman. The clubs will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), group exercise, international culture, arts and crafts, cooking, computers, photography, penmanship, holiday events, history and more.

Additionally, several community agencies will offer workshops and presentations to students, inspiring them to make positive choices and develop high goals for themselves. Topics will address emotional and mental wellness, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, safety, goal setting, good decision-making and career exploration.

Students and families will be encouraged to take part in various community service projects as well – projects that help members of their school and community while, at the same time, expanding the children’s view of the world. Projects will include fundraisers, supporting animals in need and clean-up projects at their schools.

Quarterly family nights will be offered for parents based on their interests with guest speakers teaching topics such as Internet safety and anti-bullying tips. In addition to after school activities, participants will receive a healthy and nutritious snack/meal each day.

Participation in the program is free and not based on income. It is open to any child attending the three participating Amsterdam schools – Curie, McNulty and Lynch. Sign up is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Amsterdam grant was part of $10 million in total Empire State After School Program funding awarded in 2020 to 33 high-need school districts and community-based organizations. Now in its third year, the state-funded after school initiative serves more than 34,000 New York State school children.