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Urban League of NWI awarded Summer Programming Grant

Urban League of Northwest Indiana

New Statewide Grant Aims to Expand Supplemental Literacy and Math Instruction Using Evidence-Based Strategies

Last week, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced the recipients of the Expanding What Works grant, a new opportunity designed to increase access to high-quality summer programming for over 3,000 Hoosier students. The Urban League of Northwest Indiana was among the coveted list slated to received $1.1 million.

“The Urban League of NWI is pleased to be identified as a regional partner in support of the vision of Dr. Katie Jenner and The Indiana Department of Education, The Mind Trust, and The Lavinia Group to provide five weeks of reading and math support for first through ninth-grade students, under the Student Recovery Grant-Expanding What Works,” said Urban League of NWI President and CEO Dr. Vanessa Allen-McCloud. “In collaboration with DHB & Associates, Ltd. who wrote and will coordinate this grant opportunity with us, we are poised to advance student achievement in Gary, Indiana.”

The grant encourages regional collaboration between community organizations, local nonprofits, municipal partners and/or local school corporations to expand the successful Indy Summer Learning Labs (ISLL) initiative across the state, specifically targeting students with the greatest academic need.

“We have put a lot of focus on making sure the financial investments we are making show a return on investment for our students,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “This is a prime example of seeing the impactful results and leveraging what we have learned to scale those opportunities statewide so that more students have access. Maximizing student learning requires an all-hands on deck approach, and what an excellent example the communities of South Bend, Gary, Salem and Wabash are leading to positively impact our students.”

The Urban League of NWI will use the grant funding as follows:

DHB & Associates, Ltd. in financial partnership with the Urban League of NWI as their audited financial partner and Infinite Accounting & Taxes as CPA, will provide regional oversite to 20 organizations and agencies to support the Student Learning Recovery Grant-Expanding What Works! Initiative for during summer 2024.

DHB & Associates will engage 750 students in grades K-9 in Gary, Indiana and the NW Indiana region. The program is 5 weeks and include 20 instructional days in twenty (20) sites across the region. (75 students per site). The team will work with each learning site to ensure employees are trained in and utilize the Lavinia Group’s curriculum and will enroll and engage students in a 20-hour-a-week tutoring and academic support program. Daily and/or weekly activities are designed to inspire, motivate, and cultivate their love of education.

Activities and sites will be provided for organizations that require space, and activity vendors will provide cultural, STEM, music, dance, and other activities for engagement onsite or at their home site, as a supplement to the primary tutoring programs. All students will have the opportunity to be engaged after tutoring goals have been met.

The Urban League’s Federation of Block Clubs of NWI and HOME Mentoring & Tutoring are the identified anchor partners who will assist with the registration and enrollment of students into the program to fill each site with 75 students.

The other 2024 Expanding What Works grant recipients include:

• Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County in South Bend ($3,750,000)

• Creating Avenues for Student Transformation (CAST) in Salem ($115,073)

• Wabash County YMCA in Wabash ($396,000)

Grantees will receive support from Indianapolis-based education nonprofit, The Mind Trust, and will partner with the Lavinia Group, which will provide five weeks of reading and math lessons for incoming first through ninth grade students, teacher planning resources, pre- and post-assessments and virtual onboarding training, as well as in-person coaching for facilitators. The award amounts represent approximately $1,500 per student served for the five-week summer program.

“The Mind Trust is thrilled to partner with the Indiana Department of Education, Lavinia Group and regional partners to give more Hoosier students access to high-quality summer programming,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “We are incredibly proud of the impact our team and United Way of Central Indiana has had in Marion County through Indy Summer Learning Labs and look forward to supporting similar partnerships in other areas of our state. We are grateful for the leadership of Secretary Jenner and her team to prioritize proven strategies that make an impact on student learning recovery.”

The Expanding What Works grant will continue the efforts of ISLL, which saw significant academic gains in math and reading at the end of the five-week program. In 2023, participating students saw a 23 percentage point increase in reading scores and a 22 percentage point increase in math scores, as measured by pre- and post-assessment data. Funding for Expanding What Works is allocated through the state’s biennial budget.

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