Jacksonville is getting a four-year grant for up to $765,000 to strengthen its efforts to provide poor, urban youngsters more high-quality after-school programs.

The Wallace Foundation is providing the grant to the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, which currently serves more than 10,000 children in 64 after-school programs.

Jacksonville will focus on two areas: gathering reliable data and improving program quality, said Linda Lanier, the commission executive director, on Wednesday,

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring all after-school programs in our city together to establish uniform quality standards and enhanced data collection,” Lanier said. “We’ll work with all of youth serving partner agencies to bring about better after school experiences for more children across our city.”

Lanier said much of the grant will be used to pay for training after-school workers, and to collect data about the children being served in the various after-school programs, where they live and what services they are already getting.

In the grant’s second or third year, Lanier said they plan to establish a “locator program” to help parents find out what programs are available near their homes, jobs or their child’s school.

The grant is a 3-1 match. For every $3 in Wallace Foundation funds, Jacksonville must provide either $1 in cash match or an in-kind match, she said.

They expect to begin receiving the grant money by April, Lanier said.

Jacksonville is among nine cities nationwide selected by the foundation for one of the grants. The foundation picked those cities because each has already made substantial progress in setting up a citywide system with the key building blocks in place — committed mayoral leadership and a sound ongoing planning process. As such, they are well-positioned to build on the work already done.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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