Wilkes-Barre, January 6, 2016 − Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th), state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), and Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy have announced a major federal grant for the SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) of Luzerne County after-school program. The grant totals nearly $400,000 for each of the next three years.

“This is tremendous news for SHINE of Luzerne County,” said Congressman Barletta. “As a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I was proud to be able to step in to save and restore this federal funding at the end of last year, because it touches so many young lives and gives kids a better chance at bright futures. Sen. Yudichak and I look forward to many more years of SHINE, working through our great partner Wilkes University, and many more success stories among the children of Luzerne County.”

“From the beginning of our efforts to bring SHINE to Luzerne County we have worked to provide the necessary resources for our children and our communities to succeed, “ said Senator Yudichak. “This funding represents a major step forward for SHINE and recognition that this program will make a difference in our future by improving the lives of our children.”

“Time and again, Congressman Barletta and Sen. Yudichak have shown their dedication to education in Luzerne County. Their efforts to fund the SHINE program will allow Wilkes University to continue to provide educational enrichment opportunities to the children of our region,” said Dr. Patrick Leahy, president of Wilkes University

“This funding will help us to increase the opportunities for success for our children as we work through our first three years of SHINE of Luzerne County,” said Mary Kolessar, Director of the program. “We thank Congressman Barletta and Senator Yudichak for their tireless efforts on behalf of SHINE.”

The federal funding is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) via the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Grant program. The SHINE grant is one of fifty new 21st CCLC grant awards totaling $16.1 million for 2015-18 in Pennsylvania.

The 21st CCLC program is designed to provide federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for children. Funds are intended to provide students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools with additional services to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects; to offer students a broad array of activities that can complement their regular academic programs, and to offer literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

SHINE of Luzerne County began last fall in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts and will expand to Hazleton later this year. The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum. Relying heavily on a STEAM core, SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation.