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Letter: Congress should keep 21st Century funding

Congress should keep 21st Century funding

Afterschool programs are making a tremendous difference in our community and throughout New York State. I was shocked and outraged to learn that Congress is proposing the elimination of 21st Century funding which supports these essential programs.

The Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York (MUC) offers afterschool opportunities at Buffalo Public Schools Nos. 31 and 97 and the T.J. Dulski Community Center. They offer nearly 250 children the chance to learn and grow, and help them overcome the hardships and obstacles they deal with on a daily basis. Many of these children are faced with challenges such as gang violence, teen pregnancy and hunger when they are not in a structured school or afterschool environment.

The hours after school and before most parents get home from work are the times students are most likely to get hurt or into trouble. The 21st Century programs run through the MUC offer children a safe alternative during the most dangerous hours of the day. Thanks to MUC afterschool programs, students are afforded services and opportunities that they would not have otherwise: academic support, a hot meal and fun, life-enriching activities such as building their own bike (which they keep), boat-building, choir, painting, robotics, sculpture, Second Step Violence Prevention, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and much more.

Afterschool programs ensure that children in our community remain safe and learning even after school ends. This is why Congress must keep 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Our children and 60,000 others in New York State need these vital afterschool programs.

Alissa M. Venturini

Director of Community Services

Lt. Col. Matt Urban Center of WNY