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21st Century grants benefit Cortez, Mancos schools

The School Community Youth Collaborative was awarded two 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants in July. Above, a Youth Collaborative health fairs for teens. (The Journal file)
Collaborative receives two grants for out-of-school enrichment programs

School Community Youth Collaborative, a nonprofit striving to provide development opportunities for local youths, was granted two 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants that began disbursing monthly funds July 1.

The grants will fund programs at Mancos RE-6 and Montezuma-Cortez Middle School.

Montezuma-Cortez High School and Southwest Open High School have both received the grants in the past.

The stipends are federally funded and are disbursed by state education departments.

The grant cycles are competitive, said Mary Jo Standard, Youth Collaborative director. They sponsor tutoring, credit recovery, summer school programs, clubs and trips.

Other programs, including an art club and an Indigenous club at M-CHS, are being backed as well, she said.

Mancos may use the grants to support extracurricular activities on the district’s free Fridays.

“Somebody like Mancos really has only had sports for years, and they haven't had the opportunity or funding to offer outside-of-schooltime programming,” she said. “So for them, this is all new.”

The grants will enable the Mancos’ National Art Society to visit Denver museums, she said.

Because a trip like that is outside school operations, the organization can use 21st Century funds to pay for teacher wages, transportation, hotel rooms and museum passes, she said.

The Cortez middle school will be able to host morning gym sessions before school, Standard said. The school also will have science, music and sewing clubs as well as a Sources of Strength campaign, which is a suicide prevention program.

In the 2018-2019 school year, 462 students at the Montezuma-Cortez High School and 76 students at Montezuma-Cortez Middle School participated in events sponsored by 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, according to the SCYC website.

Overall, 207 students took advantage of tutoring services that year, and 160 students participated in summer activities.

This year, about 500 of the 650 students at M-CHS participated in at least one program outside school, Standard said.

“The goal is to continue to grow,” Standard said.

The organization has reported an increase in attendance and GPA in students who have participated in a 21st Century program, she said.

The grants supply funds for three years and can be renewed every two years as long as the learning centers achieve outlined standards.

The Colorado Department of Education monitors compliance with grant standards and visits each learning center site at least twice in a three-year grant period.