Governor Awards $581,000 for Benton Harbor Youth Recreation, Prevention, After-School Programming

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that the community of Benton Harbor will receive over half a million dollars in new funding to improve schools and enrich the cultural experiences of youth in the community.

Three Benton Harbor organizations have been awarded $171,000 in funds to enhance recreation, arts and prevention programs, while local schools received $410,000 for after-school programming.

Greg Roberts, the Governor’s Director of Community-Based Initiatives; Yvonne Blackmond, Director of the State’s Office of Drug Control Policy and Betty Boone, from the Department of History, Arts and Libraries joined representatives of the Citizens for Progressive Change to announce the grant awards.

The recreational programs will provide physical fitness activities, music programs, creative arts opportunities, and enrichment activities opportunities for local youth. The after-school programming will promote skill-building and learning, and provide a link to existing youth-violence and drug prevention programs.

The recreation grants are made available through the State’s Office of Drug Control Policy and the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Local organizations receiving recreation funds include:

· Benton Harbor Area Schools, in partnership with Benton Harbor Boys and Girls Club - $41,000

· Genesis Outreach Development - $50,000

· Jump Start Incorporated - $80,000

“We are focused on working with the Benton Harbor community to provide for enriching opportunities for our young people,” Granholm said. “These programs will help expand access to quality after school programs, and will have a direct, positive impact on the lives of Benton Harbor’s children, families, and citizens.”

Officials also announced that three Benton Harbor area schools will share a $410,000 grant to create 21st Century Community Learning Centers in their school buildings. The grant, awarded by the Michigan Department of Education, will target after-school programming services for Martin Luther King Elementary School, Henry C. Morton Elementary, and Sterne Brunson Elementary.

Initially, the grant will fund a project director and three site coordinators to organize activities at each school. The grants will focus on enhancing reading and mathematics programming, along with social and cultural enrichment.

Two of the schools (King and Morton) will offer school year enrichment programs, while the third site (Sterne Brunson) will feature a summer program.

The funds are part of the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant. Michigan received a total of $21 million for FY 03-04; 37 other communities received the grants as well.

“Citizens for Progressive Change is committed to serving as a catalyst for positive change in the Benton Harbor community,” said Rev. James Atterberry, president of the Southwest Michigan Ministerial Alliance and chair of the Citizens for Progressive Change (CPC) board of directors. “These grant dollars will play an important role in the Benton Harbor community, both now, and during the summer months.”

The CPC was created in October 2003 as a result of a recommendation from a 23-member community task force charged with identifying the community’s priorities for improving the quality of life in Benton Harbor.

The CPC is comprised of community members and representatives of the Governor’s office, and is led by Atterberry; Greg Roberts, the Governor’s liaison to Benton Harbor; and, the newly-hired CPC Director Rose Hunt-Redd.

The Recreation, Arts and Culture Committee, a subcommittee of the CPC, was instrumental in establishing a competitive grant program to award funds to help local organizations serve youth in Benton Harbor.