FITCHBURG — United Way of North Central Massachusetts (UWNCM) recently distributed $230,380 in grants to 13 community focused agencies to support summer programs for local students.
According to a news release the grants will fund a variety of activities for students in grades Pre-K through 12, from career exploration in media arts to learning about dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures to designing sets for a theater.
Grant funds were made available through a $4.5 million grant awarded by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to a regional effort of United Ways located in Central, North Central and South-Central Massachusetts. The grant is being dispersed over two years with the goal of helping after-school and out-of-school programs rebound and strengthen quality of services from impacts of COVID-19.
UWNCM serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Pepperell, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster, and Winchendon.
So far, UWNCM has distributed more than $1 million in grants through five rounds of funding for the programs, beginning in spring 2022. Recipients include nonprofit organizations, public school systems and towns and municipalities. The latest round of distributions will support activities across the North Central Massachusetts region, from Athol in the west to Shirley in the east.
Innovation Learning Center (ILC), based in Westborough, received a grant to run a program for children living at the Fitchburg Housing Community who have incarcerated family members to engage in an arts-based project that promotes healing and fosters connections, with artwork to be exhibited to the community later this summer.
“The grant allows us to support the social, emotional and academic success of students by integrating the varied mediums of the arts and language development with the principles of art-therapy and trauma-informed care,” ILC Director Kathleen Magrane said. “This support allows us to affect positive change, growth and progress for students experiencing post-pandemic trauma and disconnection associated with the loss of or absence of family members due to court involvement, incarceration and/or pandemic-related death.”
Worcester-based YWCA Central Massachusetts received a grant to assist their Girls CHOICE mentoring program for at-risk youth in Leominster.
“One of the most significant benefits of Girls CHOICE is the opportunity for participants to visit colleges, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Deb Hall, CEO of the YWCA Central Massachusetts, said. “For many girls, it provides them with opportunities they may not have had access to. The exposure to higher education inspires many of them to pursue a college degree, empowering them to strive toward a brighter future. The YWCA is grateful to UWNCM for supporting this life-changing program.”
Judy Tomlinson, Director of Community Impact at UWNCM, added, “We are thrilled to support such a wide variety of summer programs that provide opportunities for local students to grow and explore. UWNCM looks forward to continuing to work with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and local United Ways to further our impact.”