Miami-Dade County's children will soon have even more access to expanded, high-quality after-school and summer camp programs thanks to a historic funding commitment by The Children's Trust. The Trust approved a record $76.6 million to fund high-quality after-school and summer camp programs for children and youth in Miami-Dade in the next fiscal year. Over the next five years, that investment will likely top $380 million and represents a record level of funding for The Trust’s Youth Development initiative in the 20-year history of The Trust.
The funding will directly benefit over 36,000 school-aged children and youth at 143 programs in 682 program locations – a 41 percent expansion in priority areas such as Liberty City, Overtown, Little Haiti, Little Havana, West Coconut Grove, and Florida City/Homestead among others.
The Trust Board of Directors approved the funding recommendations on April 17, after a five-year community needs assessment and funding planning process that included input from families, providers and stakeholders. In order for programs to continue to receive funding after the first year, they must continue to meet required standards to ensure they are serving those in need as intended.
Among those that received funding was Belafonte TACOLCY Center in Liberty City. “Securing sufficient funding is crucial for us and other providers to continue to deliver services to our communities in Miami. Together, we can ensure that every child has access to a safe, supportive, and engaging environment that facilitates their academic and personal development,” said Belafonte TACOLCY’S CEO Shownda Pagan.
Several of the funded programs also include a particular focus on helping teens who have dropped out or are disconnected from school or work, and those who are involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. The goal is to empower the leaders of tomorrow to become successful, well-rounded individuals who are ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way.
The Children's Trust President & CEO James Haj emphasized the importance of the investment, saying, "Funding for these programs will help bridge the achievement gap and ensure children and teens have a safe and engaging place to play, grow, and learn after school and during the summer. At the same time, these programs lift a weight off many working parents.”
The five-year investment will offer academic assistance, social and emotional wellness, physical and mental health support, and supervised environments to ensure the safety of all participants. The programs will engage students in activities that increase school attendance, improve academic performance, decrease risky behaviors, and prevent summer learning loss. They will also offer enrichment opportunities related to STEM, arts, cultural programming, civic engagement, sports, and post-secondary supports related to jobs, careers, entrepreneurship, life skills, and college readiness.
All Trust-funded after-school and summer programs are enriching, accessible, affordable, inclusive, and accommodate children and youth with disabilities. The 143 funded service providers range from grassroots and neighborhood-focused community-based organizations to municipal and university entities.