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Grant lets mentors help city charter students with academics, social issues

A $3.4 million federal grant will help hundreds of students in Buffalo get tutoring and mentoring help this coming school year.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, on Thursday announced the grant, which was awarded to the Service Collaborative of Western New York. The non-profit will receive $1.14 million a year over the next three years to fund its AmeriCorps Builds Lives through Education program, known as ABLE.

The program uses AmeriCorps members to work in partner schools as full-time tutors and mentors for students in grades four through 10. Not only will this latest round of funding provide tutoring in traditional subjects, but it will train AmeriCorps volunteers to help meet a wide range of social and emotional needs of students, said Kate Sarata, executive director of the Service Collaborative of Western New York.

Besides traditional tutoring, the AmeriCorps members will address with students such things as character development, bullying and healthy living, issues that schools are concerned about but don’t always have enough time to incorporate during the academic day, said Melissa Schutte, director of ABLE.

The grant allows for the hiring of 80 AmeriCorps members, who receive a $12,100 stipend, as well as a $5,730 award after they complete their 12-month commitment to the program.

Right now, the program will involve 10 partners, most of them charter schools in the city, including Health Sciences, Enterprise, King Center, Tapestry, South Buffalo and Westminster charter schools. More schools may take part by the time school starts, officials said.

The funding came from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that helps improve lives through service.

The Service Collaborative of Western New York is still looking for more people to serve in the program.


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