$930,000 helps three schools expand service

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Three pairs of Chicago public schools and their outside partners have received $310,000 each from the Polk Bros. Foundation to help develop “full-service” schools.

The grants, to be spread over three years, will help the schools provide a range of programs for students and their families, such as health care and after-school recreation.

The grantees and their partners are: Brentano Math and Science Academy and Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Riis Elementary and Youth Guidance, and Marquette Elementary and Metropolitan Family Services. The schools were required to develop partnerships with outside non-profit institutions in order to be eligible for grants.

Through its Full-Service Initiative, Polk Bros. aims to improve the physical and psychological well-being of the children at the schools and thus improve their academic achievement and school behavior.

“Schools are where the kids and their families are. We hope that by opening up school buildings that are closed after 3 p.m. we will be able to serve families comprehensively,” says Suzanne Doornbos Kerbow, the foundation’s associate director.

The three winners were among 65 schools nominated by educators for having already forged strong ties to community-based organizations. Twenty-two of the 65 responded to Polk’s invitation to apply for the funds.

Under the guidelines, schools will spend up to $25,000 to plan programs, and up to $45,000 a year to hire full-time resource coordinators to refer children and their families to agencies providing services and to otherwise oversee the programs.

The remaining $50,000 per year is expected to be used for operating costs such as child care during meetings, transportation to off-site locations that provide services, supplies and school-based programs.

By the end of the three years, the partnerships are expected to institutionalize the program so that it can continue without grant money. The foundation will evaluate the schools’ experience before deciding whether to invite other schools to apply, says Kerbow.