Gov. McMaster Announces $4 Million Investment for Middle School Students Attending South Carolina Afterschool Alliance Community-Based Summer Programs

Governor Henry McMaster announced today a $4 million investment to support middle school students during the summer. The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, will be able to offer extra resources to local programs across the state. This effort is designed to reconnect and reengage students in underserved, underrepresented areas.  
Awarded programs will use the funds to engage and expose students through evidence-based practices in college and career exploration, STEM innovation and entrepreneurship education to accelerate learning and cultivate social and emotional skills needed to return to school and deal with the challenges they are facing because of the impact of COVID-19 on them and their families. Through project-based instruction, students will engage in an array of activities in research and have an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, work ethic, social skills and other skills and competencies connected to the Profile of the SC Graduate. Students will receive additional resources through a special partnership between the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and the University of South Carolina. Through the University’s Beyond the Classroom program across its eight campuses, approximately 8,000 students will have an opportunity to volunteer in a local summer and afterschool program and receive credit hours for their civic engagement.
“We are excited about the impact and potential of college students volunteering as mentors and instructors across the entire state,” said Zelda Quiller Waymer, President and CEO of the SC Afterschool Alliance. “I’m impressed with the commitment the University of South Carolina has made to the community.” 
“This investment directly addresses the summer setback learning effect experienced by many underserved middle school students,” said William F. Tate, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of South Carolina. “By connecting middle school students with University of South Carolina mentors, we provide the younger students with real examples of their future possibilities as participants in higher education and offer a model of the importance of giving back.”
Re-engaging Through STEM Learning
Research shows that hands-on, experiential learning by students is linked to higher levels of interest in STEM and leads to better STEM learning outcomes. Even before the pandemic, schools often provided few opportunities of this kind, especially in schools that serve under-resourced and marginalized communities. The pandemic has significantly deepened existing gaps for students to access hands-on STEM learning opportunities, as well as hindering students’ social-emotional development, leaving policymakers with the question of how to recover and fill these gaps equitably.
Learn more at http://scafterschool.com/.
Source: South Carolina Afterschool Alliance