Three Athens County school districts are among those awarded more than a total of $45 million from the Ohio Department of Education. A total of 247 schools and community-based programs were awarded funds as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center grants.

Locally, Athens City Schools, Trimble Local and Federal Hocking will benefit from the grants through continuing awards. The grants will be continuing awards from past years. Programs include those at The Plains Elementary, Trimble Middle School, Federal Hocking’s elementary schools and Athens Middle School. A total of $700,000 was awarded to the four programsy.

This year, the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Federal Programs modified the grant program to focus more on reading instruction. The re-structure of this program targets building literacy skills inside the school day in addition to the traditional out-of-school times.

Under the re-structured part of the program, 61 Community Learning Centers will receive funding for the first time while 186 Community Learning Centers will continue to receive funding for their programs.

“We have to keep pounding away to improve childhood literacy in Ohio, so we’ve taken advantage of federal flexibility to fund these 61 programs focused on reading,” said Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction. “We believe they’ll help more girls and boys become strong readers and successful learners who have what they need to thrive in school and life. That’s our job.”

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants are three-year grants that are renewed annually. The U.S. Department of Education provides the funding to Ohio for these grants, which increased to $45 million in 2014-2015 from $43 million the previous year. There are currently 186 recipients that are continuing to receive funding this year.

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