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September 08, 2011

Contact: Carol D. Rugg, 810.238.5651,

Flint-area afterschool program receives Mott Foundation grant

FLINT, Mich. — More than a dozen schools in Genesee County will once again offer safe places for kids to learn and grow outside the classroom this coming academic year, thanks to a $3.1-million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to the Genesee Area Focus Fund. The Fund is a supporting organization of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In 2010, the YouthQuest program, led by the regional chamber, provided free out-of-school activities and services to more than 2,800 elementary and middle school students throughout the greater Flint community. YouthQuest kicks off its 2011-12 program this week at 14 area schools.

Mott support for YouthQuest and Bridges to the Future, as the program was known when it was launched in 1998, has totaled $24 million since 2000.

Afterschool fitness programs improves children's health and fights obesity.

Some of the youngest YouthQuest participants take advantage of fitness activities.

YouthQuest illustrates the vital link between in-school and out-of-school learning, notes William S. White, the Foundation’s president and CEO. This includes enhancing students’ academic skills while developing their interests and experiences in the arts and culture, health, fitness and nutrition and volunteering and community service.

The model also integrates a number of other key education and development services, helping participants build such critical skills as teamwork and leadership.

“Afterschool programs help children to develop intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally,” said White. “The scope and quality of those educational opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, can open the doors to lifelong learning.”

Nationally, the supply of quality afterschool programs falls short of the demand. The Afterschool Alliance — a longtime Mott grantee working to raise awareness and support for such programs — reports that more than 15 million children in the U.S. are unsupervised at the end of each school day. Polls show most parents would enroll their kids in an afterschool program, if available.

YouthQuest is helping to bridge the afterschool gap in Flint and Genesee County, notes Tim Herman, CEO of the regional chamber.

“The program shapes the trajectory of hundreds of lives by educating and preparing youth to be successful at an early age,” he said. “It reinforces their overall performance at school and contributes to important work-ready skills, such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking and decision making.”

Supporters of afterschool programming echo Herman’s views, noting that participation can lead to better grades, lower rates of truancy, more engagement in school, attainment of higher levels of achievement in college and a reduction in delinquency and contact with the police. Advocates also note that for many working parents and guardians, afterschool programs help ensure their children are in a positive environment during the hours after school.

“YouthQuest provides a valuable service to the community,” agrees Rhetta Hunyady, the regional chamber’s group vice president of operations and employer education and training. “In addition to academic and enrichment activities, the program keeps kids safe, helps working families and inspires success among youth. We’re thrilled that enrollment continues to grow and are hearing directly from students and their parents about how YouthQuest is positively impacting their lives.”

“We are greatly appreciative of the Mott Foundation’s support of YouthQuest,” said Herman. “It and other programs for local young people would not be possible without the help of Mott and our other funders.”

YouthQuest will be offered at the following schools during the 2011-12 academic year:

Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools

  • Dye Elementary
  • Rankin Elementary
  • Woodland Elementary

Flint Community Schools

  • Brownell Elementary
  • Bunche Elementary
  • Freeman Elementary
  • Neithercut Elementary
  • Potter Elementary
  • Southwestern Middle School
  • Summerfield Elementary
  • Washington Elementary

Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools

  • Montague Elementary
  • Moore Elementary

Montrose Community Schools

  • Kuehn-Haven Middle School

Information about YouthQuest and applications for enrollment are available online at the YouthQuest afterschool program Web site or by calling 810.422.5904.

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