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Sunnyside will house 21st Century after-school program for families

Sunnyside area middle schoolers may soon have the chance at their very own 21st Century after-school program.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced last week that the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic's Northwest Community Action Center, based in Toppenish, will receive $435,000 each year for the next five years. The money is coming from federal funding to create 21st Century Community Learning Centers in partnership with four Lower Yakima Valley school districts.

The community learning centers are set to be created at Wapato Middle School for students in grades 6-8, Mt. Adams middle and high schools for students in grades 7-12, a Sunnyside School District program for students grades 6-8 and Toppenish School District students, grades K-12, at the Safe Haven Center.

Program coordinators are hoping that the site for the Sunnyside program will be the Sunnyside Community Center. They are also hoping to hire six individuals, including a site supervisor, two youth development specialists, two teachers and a teacher's aide.

The centers are targeted to provide services for 325 students in the four districts. The centers must also serve the families of participating students by providing literacy and related education development opportunities. Therefore, the funding also provides 120 parents throughout the districts with family literacy programs.

The local funding is part of a statewide grant totaling $4 million each year for five years.

The centers work to assist students in meeting state and local academic achievement standards in core academic subjects such as reading and math. The centers also provide students with a broad array of other activities focusing on gang and crime prevention, counseling, art, music, recreation, technology and character education.

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