GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Tuesday afternoon, Governor Tony Evers made an appearance at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay to announce a new resource for the nonprofit and others like it.
“If we’re going to bounce back from this pandemic, then we have to do the right thing for our kids and our families, to make sure that we’re better off than when we started,” the Governor said while addressing the media.
“Beyond the Classroom” Grants will provide programs like the Boys & Girls Club with up to $500,000 each.
$25 million will be available to apply for this summer, and another $25 million in funding will be made available for the upcoming school year.
The governor says that after school programming is vitally important in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These programs are a lifeline, insuring our kids have high quality programming and a safe place,” he said, “while at the same time, giving their parents or caregivers peace of mind. Especially those who are on the frontlines.”
Funding for the grants will come from the $2.5 billion dollars allocated to the State of Wisconsin through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
“This type of funding will allow us to go deep and really strengthen our programs to reach kids who need us most,” Lisa Kogan-Praska, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay said.
After almost a full year of virtual learning for some students, officials say these programs are needed now more than ever.
“This is just another piece of the puzzle to make sure that we center a caring approach that sees the humility and humanity of our children because they have some serious and deep needs,” Rep. Kristina Shelton said. “We’ve all been impacted by Covid-19, but our children especially, so this is life saving and this is going to be incredibly important to our community moving forward.”
Governor Evers noted that mental health has become a great concern for school-aged children over the past year, with the pandemic forcing schools online and canceling extracurricular activities.
“We’ve seen a 100 percent increase in self harm, substance abuse, and mental health insurance claims for teens,” he said, “and as kids head back to school, some are anxious and stressed about getting back to that school routine.”
According to Governor Evers, getting kids back into the swing of things and providing for their needs in the midst of the shutdown has brought to light the importance of programs that go beyond the classroom, like the Boys & Girls Club.
“So the needs for Club became even more essential,” Kogan-Praska said, “as we opened up to be virtual learning centers, and have really transitioned along with the needs of the community to meet kids where they’re at and provide them the safe, structured support that they need.”
Organizations interested in the grants can sign up online to learn more.