There has been a lot to celebrate lately in Cutler Bay. On April 13, the town was approved for $143,190 in grant funding for the continuation of its after-school program. And last week, it celebrated Earth Week with more than 150 riders participating in its annual Bike-B-Que event.
The grant, approved by the board of directors of the Children’s Trust, is renewable for the next three years. The town currently receives $111,756, providing after-school services to 75 youth at Cutler Ridge Park. The $31,434 increase will enhance the program in several ways.
“As a working parent I know how valuable good after-school care is,” Mayor Peggy Bell said. “Our program, funded by the Children’s Trust, provides educational and recreational activities for no charge, even on spring break, teacher work days and holidays, enabling parents to feel confident their children are well taken care of while they are at work.”
Miami-Dade College Homestead Campus and EnFamilia, a nonprofit organization focusing on the arts, will offer science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) to the 75, 6 to 12-year-old students. Students will also receive homework assistance, physical fitness and social skills training, literacy skills training and a nutritious snack.
“We were one of the only ones that received an increase in the grant cycle from the Children’s Trust,” Town Manager Ralph Casals said.
“We provided them information on why we needed an increase for a grant and their board approved it.”
Returning K-through-5 children are automatically admitted back into the program, which has a lottery system for up to 15 open slots each year.
“What I like about it is we have increased the level of our commitment,” Casals said. “We are not only hiring program managers. We hired a certified teacher that can provide and deliver the curriculums as well as very experienced program managers.”
Casals said an average of 30 to 40 prospective children enter the lottery. Children can come in as early as 1:30 p.m. and stay until 6 p.m. everyday for the program.
“I’m very proud of the program,” Casals said. “The fact that you have a lottery and waiting list, that means it’s a very good, exclusive program. I like our uniqueness because it’s offered to residents through spring break and teacher’s workdays and certain holidays. It provides the working parents an opportunity to leave their child there, enhance their progress and continue their work schedule.”
At the town’s Earth Week celebration, sponsor Amscot Financial donated more than 100 helmets that were given to riders for free, along with safety materials. The Town distributed more than 60 helmets at the event. Cutler Bay Police and town staff escorted riders around the scenic 5.5-mile route. At the end of the event, Mayor Bell and the town council made a proclamation for three trees that were planted near the playground at Lakes by the Bay Park.
For more information on the after-school program, contact the parks and recreation department at 305-238-4166.