Carpe Diem Academy brings together Mercyhurst University graduate and undergraduate students to give children in Erie public schools a safe after-school option.
For the past three years, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant has given this group the funding to provide this service.
This year, out of 117 applicants requesting grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Carpe Diem Academy was one of 64 chosen to receive a grant. This is not the first time the grant has been awarded to this group. Between 2011 and 2014, Carpe Diem received $1.5 million to build educational programs in Erie public schools.
The PDE grants money to applicants whose purpose is to help students attending “high-poverty and low performing schools…to meet state and local standards” along with providing “activities that can complement their regular academic programs,” according to the PDE press release.
This year, Carpe Diem received $1.2 million which will last until 2017.
Nine classroom teachers, all graduate assistants studying Special Education at Mercyhurst, and about 19 undergraduates, acting as support staff, teach students in kindergarten through second grade math, literacy and science. Not only do they provide an educational service, but they also offer daily physical activity, a daily snack, a hot dinner and “most importantly, an engaging and safe after school environment,” said Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Hafenmaier School of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
With this grant, three Erie public elementary schools—about 250 children—will be provided with this program, according to Roberts. The group will be working with three schools during the regular school year and three different schools in the summer. The money will pay for staff, snacks, dinners, field trips and other expenses.
The money received previously was used to create after-school and summer programs in multiple schools. Because the programs were successful, Carpe Diem Academy was able to reference them in the latest grant application. However, Roberts said she wasn’t exactly sure why Carpe Diem Academy won over other organizations because they “do not receive any feedback on the application—just a notification award.”
Carpe Diem Academy’s purpose is to “provide an extended learning day experience for children,” Roberts said.
With the grant, the group will be able to keep helping Erie’s public elementary schools, giving the community a small ray of light which pierces through the darkness of the rest of the world.