Grant Public Schools has the largest after school program in Newaygo County. For 30 years, school staff has sought to provide a safe place to spend time after school while also incorporating a wide range of fun and educational activities.
“Our main goals are to improve enrichment opportunities and have a local impact,” said Stephanie Dood, teacher and co-director of the after school program. “We want to make the biggest impact we can. This is not just a place to go to be watched. We’re a safe haven and a place to build skills.”
Each day, students can get involved in a variety of creative enrichment programs such as meeting with a reading interventionist, trying yoga, or listening to books in Spanish and English during read aloud time. A partnership with MSU Extension also incorporates science and environmental activities.
Another new addition has been theme-based Lego projects. In November, students used Legos to create open hand sculptures featuring the Community Foundation logo as a way to celebrate National Philanthropy Day and express gratitude for the Community Foundation’s support.
“If it weren’t for the Community Foundation, we couldn’t do this,” said Stephanie. “We couldn’t serve over 100 kids or employ over 30 people.”
The program’s impact also extends beyond students and families to local small businesses and organizations. They’re committed to buying food, books, and other materials locally whenever possible and are connecting with organizations like Camp Newaygo to offer workshops and new programming.
“We have so much gratitude for our local partners,” said Stephanie. “We’re connecting with people who know the area, understand the needs, and can be flexible.”
These partnerships and the efforts of the dedicated staff are allowing Grant to meet the diverse needs of students in innovative ways each day after school.
“My passion is figuring out what the need is and how to meet it,” said Stephanie. “It’s about creating exceptional opportunities. Every day we get two hours with a group of kids to do something amazing.”