Council’s creative financing helps salvage Reynolds after school program

November 03, 2009

With some creative financing guidance from Akron City Council and Akron Public Schools, the Butch Reynolds Care for Kids Foundation’s after-school program will continue this year.

Council took time on last week’s request for $120,000 in city funding, urging the foundation to seek other funding sources in the wake of city budget cuts. The foundation returned to Council Monday with a reduced funding request and to announce that it will contract with the much-lauded Akron After School program.

Council approved $185,000 to fund Akron After School, which in turn will allocate $50,000 to operate the Butch Reynolds after school mentoring program for at-risk children in five Community Learning Centers. The city funds supplement a $2 million 21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support Akron After School’s programming in 27 elementary and possibly three middle schools.

Akron After School was one of two nationwide after school programs recently profiled by the Department of Education as a model of best practices in after school programs.

“In the end everybody is happy to be able to keep the program,” said Council’s Budget and Finance Chair Tina Merlitti. “I think the Butch Reynolds foundation understood our financial situation.”

Merlitti (W-7) last week suggested that Council would be scrutinizing its role as a funding source for this and other youth programs. The Reynolds program in particular had benefitted from having Council’s approval for funding every year for the last seven years.

“We’re going to be looking at every program and evaluating what the cost-benefit is,” Merlitti said. “Still, it is definitely very important that Akron’s young people have opportunities for tutoring and mentoring, and that they have constructive and positive places to go after school.”