Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Renews Partnership with Florida Afterschool Network

The Florida Afterschool Network (FAN) is proud to announce that its proposal for third funding cycle from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been approved. The project period runs from October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2014.
Grant foundation awards Florida Afterschool Network $569,000
By Ashley Ames
Democrat staff writer

Larry Pintacuda's voice takes on a certain urgency when he discusses the importance of after-school programs in Florida.

"Kids in quality after-school programs do better in school, there is less teen pregnancy, drop-out rates are reduced," he said.

"I'm passionate about kids. It's been my whole life," said Pintacuda, executive director of the Florida Afterschool Network. "I've seen how these kids come in (to after-school programs) and develop and become great kids."

FAN works to advocate for and improve after-school programs statewide. That comes in the form of securing funding from the Legislature for those programs, developing and updating what qualifies as quality after-school care, and, most recently, partnering with state colleges to develop official certification for after-school practitioners — including at the college level.

Pintacuda announced Monday that the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation — a Michigan-based grant-making organization centered on community and environmental improvement — approved FAN's proposal for funding. The foundation, which has supported FAN since the network's inception in 2005, will give the nonprofit $569,000 over the next three years, Pintacuda said. FAN will then match that amount by a dollar and a half, much of which will come from the United Way of Florida, the Florida After School Alliance, the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations. FAN operates on about $180,000 a year, Pintacuda said.

FAN's mission also comes to life through the collaboration of partners across the state, including former Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D- Fla., and Frank Brogan, chancellor of the State University System. This networking, which also includes FAN's board of directors, helps the non-profit achieve its goal, Pintacuda said.

"These are all people who are passionate about after-school programs, who will help us try to sell the importance of after-school programs," he said.

Pintacuda said the importance of after-school programs could be seen by simply looking at the numbers. In Florida, 750,000 students spend an average of 15 hours a week unsupervised after school lets out, he said. He said that from 2 to 6 p.m., kids are most likely to become victims of violent crime, be killed in a car accident or other accident, experiment with drugs and engage in sexual activities.

"Our mission is to ensure that every kid has an opportunity to participate in a quality after-school program," Pintacuda said. The awarding of the funding will further that goal.
"It will allow us to continue to push for quality after-school programs in this state," he said.

The Children's Forum, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that works to improve services for children and families, is one of FAN's partners. Jenna Jacobsen-Brown, Children's Forum communications and membership services director, agreed with the need for quality after-school care.

"Research shows that children in after-school programs are less likely to commit crimes, less likely to do drugs," she said. "FAN is one vehicle that can express why quality after-school programs are so important for children in Florida."

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