AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The Jessye Norman School of the Arts was awarded a competitive grant.
“The BOOST Grant is a Building Out Of School Time Grant. It’s federally funded through the American Rescue Plan, but it’s state administered through the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network and the Georgia Department of Education,” the school’s executive director, Gary Dennis said.
The BOOST Grant will allocate $27 million across 104 Georgia schools. Jessye Norman School of the Arts will receive $214,000, with half of the money going toward after school programming, and the other half toward their summer camp program.
“Our program is 85-90 percent completely free. Nobody pays for any of the services. The family and the parents don’t pay for that programming,” Dennis said. “2:30pm-6pm throughout 36 weeks of the school year, and then all day programming including breakfast and lunch through six weeks in the summer.”
The school offers free fine arts classes, as well as digital arts, including graphic design and podcasting.
But they also have something you may recognize on Green Street. The Dr. Linda M. Scales Art Garden.
“It used to be a parking lot. In fact, I had two cars stolen from it while it was still a parking lot maybe 10-12 years ago,” Dennis said.
The parking lot was transformed into a community garden, with a lending library and needs box, where people can take anything from diapers to food to books.
“The stolen car versus the community garden I think is a great analogy for where the city was and where the city is going. This is community members doing for themselves and helping each other,” Dennis said.
And Dennis says the funding from the BOOST Grant will be used in a way that will benefit the community and invest in our children, just like the Art Garden.
“Without this funding I don’t know that we would be able to do that. And now, we’ll have the opportunity to expand that programming,” Dennis said.
The grant is for three years, and must be renewed annually.