Dayton Public Schools Ruskin PreK-6 School offers Miracle Makers after schools programs for its students. Supported by East End Services, the curriculum is hands-on, project based learning with programs such as robotics and stringed instruments like the cello and violin. Students play games at the end of the school day, before their Miracle Makers program starts. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Zuckerberg-backed group steers $1M grant to Dayton, Huber schools

Learn to Earn Dayton announced Tuesday that it received a grant worth $1 million over three years to help schools in Dayton and Huber Heights expand academic support for students, community partnerships and parent involvement.

The grant comes from a national coalition of education agencies called Together for Students, which is supported by the philanthropic group created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. Learn to Earn Dayton was one of four recipients nationwide of $3.75 million in funding.

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“Finding ways to better connect with parents, families and young people is an essential part of fostering the enhanced educational attainment that is so essential for our community and for our state,” said Tom Lasley, CEO of Learn to Earn Dayton.

Lasley said the grant will fund initiatives aimed at improving student attendance, reducing chronic absenteeism and creating more trauma-sensitive programs for students and families.

Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the money will help support and standardize services at the district’s six “neighborhood school centers”, where area agencies partner with the district to provide after-school and summer programs, as well as additional services for needy students and their families.

Lolli said when they applied for the grant the district hoped to use the money for behavioral and mental health specialists at the six sites, more parent workshops and additional funding for site coordinators.

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“Through this grant the Dayton Public Schools intends to strengthen and better align the work that is occurring in its neighborhood schools, foster enhanced student and family engagement and create environments where the higher expectations of the teachers and families can be realized,” Lolli said in a statement when the grant was announced.

Lasley said Huber Heights schools plans to more broadly expand after-school and summer programs, offer additional parental support for things such as math tutoring, and train school staff on teaching children coping with trauma — a problem that disproportionately impacts low-income students.

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“There is no one-size-fits-all fix for the challenges facing America’s students,” said Dale Erquiaga, president and CEO of Communities in Schools, a member of the coalition.

“Individual communities know what they need to do to get their students on the path to success — the Together for Students grants will help our communities make those ideas a reality. From giving youth access to engaging learning opportunities to expediting academic growth, these community-designed, student-centered plans will create real change with generational effects.”

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