STEP Inc. and Community Alliance for Progressive Positive Action - or CAPPA - recently announced a partnership designed to expand and enhance after-school programming for income-eligible students.
STEP is providing its fiscal and planning expertise to the partnership while CAPPA is providing after-school programming for children from kindergarten to ninth grade.
The partnership makes sense because both organizations share common goals that may be achieved through collaboration, said Terry Roller, STEP president and CEO.
STEP's mission is to "engage diverse individuals, families and communities in the pursuit of economic success," Roller said. Partnering with CAPPA and its after-school program fits that mission, Roller said.
"From a STEP perspective, it enhances our early learning pathway because it's capturing a segment we aren't currently serving," he said. "This partnership helps us with that."
"It's clear that in these economically trying times, we need to pool our resources together," CAPPA Executive Director Loni Gamble said. "Partnering with STEP will be a move in the right direction. STEP's mission aligns with our mission, so this is a perfect opportunity."
The two agencies have partnered on an application for state Department of Community and Economic Development Community Service Block Grant funds to help expand the after-school program.
According to Gamble, the program runs from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The program focuses on academics the first four days of the week and performing arts on Friday, Gamble said.
"This is a program with real outcomes," Gamble said. "It is evidence-based and curriculum-driven and is in line with Pennsylvania (education) standards."
The program has 62 participants, but there is a waiting list of about 20 students, Gamble said.
Scholarships are available through the county Housing Authority and other supporters, he said.
The partnership with STEP will allow CAPPA to expand the program's capacity, which will have a far-reaching impact on the community.
"After-school education benefits schools, taxpayers and businesses," Roller said. "It is an investment in the community's future."
"The smart thing to do is be proactive," Gamble said. "It is clear that education is the key. If we educate kids at an early age, we help them avoid the pitfalls they could experience later It decreases the drop-out rate and the chances they'll be involved in the juvenile justice system."
The collaboration between STEP and CAPPA began several months ago when STEP donated a passenger van to CAPPA so it could transport students enrolled in the after-school program.
In addition to applying for the grant, another component of the collaboration will be STEP's assuming the role of fiscal administrator for CAPPA's Education Improvement Tax Credit program.
Under the program, businesses can be approved for a tax credit equal to 75 percent of its contribution, up to $300,000 per year. If the business commits to contributing the same amount for two consecutive years, the credit may be increased to 90 percent of the contributions, according to Roller.
In June, CAPPA received word from the state Department of Community and Economic Development that it was added to a list of educational improvement organizations eligible for the tax credit program for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013.
Businesses interested in contributing to the program may contact Rachelle Abbott, STEP director of planning, at 601-9501.