Young people in Ravenna stand to benefit greatly as the community becomes the first in Portage County to participate in the 21st Century Learning Center program, thanks to an $850,000 federal grant that will provide academic and youth development services at Brown Middle School and Ravenna High School.
The grant will be administered by the Community Action Council of Portage County in partnership with the Ravenna School District. Funding will come from a five-year grant that will require no matching funds at the local level.
The program is expected to begin by mid-October, providing after-school activities, including tutoring, for students in grades 6 through 12. While it is geared to improving the academic performance of low-income and "at risk" students, it also will be open to those who might want to enroll to become better prepared for college.
Superintendent Dennis Honkala, who has stressed the need to improve academic standards during his tenure as head of the Ravenna district, said that he hopes the program will enable the district to improve its graduation rate and improve services to low-income students. Ravenna received a "C" on its state report card for its graduation rate and an "F" in the service category. Participation in the 21st Century Learning program is a sign of responsiveness.
The program, which will be headed by retired Ravenna teacher Amy Adams, will be funded through a $200,000 grant in each of its first three years, with reduced grant funding in the final two years. The 21st Century program, which is a national endeavor, has been implemented in about 40 Ohio communities, but never before in Portage County.
In addition to the CAC, other partners in the Ravenna program include Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University, the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority and the Portage County Access Network.
Adams said she hopes the program will "have a huge impact" on the students who participate in it. There is no question that it sounds promising, a worthwhile investment in Ravenna youth that, hopefully, will bring big dividends in terms of academic growth.