The Stanley County GOLD (Greater Opportunities for Learning and Development) Program has received a 21st Century Community Learning Center funding award for a five-year period.

“We were founded about 1940 to have a place for kids to go. That is what it is about,” said Pat Duffy, the one-person power behind the Pat Duffy Community & Youth Involved Center. “We are getting between $170,000-173,000 per year for five years. This does not include food, so we will have to raise about $12,000 for the summers each year.”

These grants support out-of–school-time programming for school age children in eligible schools and districts. The grant was awarded to the Three Rivers Special Services Cooperative, with the Pat Duffy Community Center as the local coordinating agency.

The Community & Youth Involved Center is at 19 East Main Avenue, Fort Pierre. Its phone number is 223-2701.

“No cost to any child,” stressed Duffy. “Based on learning, that is how we wrote the grant application.”

Duffy said Youth Involved and the Stanley County School have worked on this, but there are 20 other partners involved, committing resources and programming to the program. “It is a neat program, all featuring learning,” he said. Activities include visiting the Discovery Center, even maybe learning scuba diving.

“Now we have to hire a director, that is so very important,” Duffy said.

The 11-person board, with Sherri Reitz a president, already has advertisements out for a future director. The grant application was written based on a projected 75 participating children, pre-kindergarten to late teens. Because many teens can drive, work and watch themselves, Duffy expects participants to mostly be sixth grade on down. Minimum age is five years old. Duffy plans to have one person hired for every 15 children.

The goal is to have the after-school program going after Labor Day.

“The doors will be open even before the program is quite ready to start. There’s going to be a place for the kids to go to, even before we get the program up and running,” said Duffy.

21 st Century Community Learning Centers provide a range of services that support student learning and development. The main components of the grants include academic enrichment, tutoring, mentoring, homework help, music, arts, sports and cultural programming. One of the program’s goals is to involve parents/school/community in sharing their strengths to improve collective abilities to support GOLD goals and to sustain GOLD beyond the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant cycle, and the program looks forward to building these relationships.

The program will operate in the Pat Duffy Community Center and Stanley County Schools after school, on Fridays, and in the summer. Once hiring is completed, there will be an application process for youth. Duffy wants to include as many children — residents and summer-long visitors — as possible. Enrollment forms will be available at the Youth Center and on the Stanley County School’s website.

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