United Way Awarded $4.5M Grant from DESE to Strengthen Social Emotional Learning and Enrichment for Out-of-School Time and After-School Providers

February 8, 2022

BOSTON – United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley today announced the receipt of a $4.5M grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide wraparound support to afterschool and out-of-school time (ASOST) programs, representing an opportunity for recovery from the impacts on student learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Way will provide ongoing support, training, technical assistance, coaching, professional development, evaluation, fiscal management, and oversight to ASOST programs. The grant will also help to establish more effective partnerships between schools, early learning centers, and community-based nonprofit organizations to create an effective network of high-quality learning environments to best support youth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the urgent need to invest more robustly in out-of-school time programs to ensure that youth are engaged in their learning at every age, and remain on a pathway to postsecondary success,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “This funding will help us bridge the gaps so that school districts and OST providers are connected, thoughtfully involved, and effective in supporting the social emotional development of our young people, who need these wraparound supports now more than ever.”

United Way is the largest private funder of early childhood and OST programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, providing unrestricted and programmatic grants to over 300 organizations annually. Through its investment in OST programs and its own initiatives, United Way has prioritized holistic youth development programs serving historically marginalized students. Programs are culturally responsive, antiracist, advance equitable outcomes, and promote social emotional skills like critical thinking, self-management, social awareness, relationship building, communication, teamwork, organizational skills, perseverance and enrichment opportunities.

Through this grant, United Way will work with OST programs serving students in pre-K through grade 12, particularly agencies with a demonstrated history of providing comprehensive youth programming with a racial and trauma-informed lens, to ensure organizations align with United Way’s mission and values. United Way will continue to prioritize economically disadvantaged communities in our region including Lawrence, Chelsea, Lynn, Lowell, Everett, Boston, Revere, Randolph, Malden, Salem, Haverhill, Taunton, Methuen, Somerville, Waltham, Quincy, Gloucester, Saugus, Peabody, Weymouth, Attleboro, Medford, Woburn, Norwood and Winthrop.

In April 2021, United Way was awarded the Summer Step Up Program (SSUP) grant from the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care, a one year, $10 million contract to partner with 31 communities throughout Massachusetts to support children in pre-K to second grade to return to in-person learning opportunities during the summer months. United Way serves as the lead of SSUP, providing partnership coordination, facilitation, and support to school districts and community-based organizations by designing programs to best serve children and families. Since April 2021, United Way has committed more than $8 million in performance-based contracts to partners, increasing access to summer enrichment programming for more than 2,000 children. United Way will continue to support SSUP partners through June 2022.