Kentucky State University recently was awarded a $662,999 grant to develop afterschool programs for at-risk children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Children, Youth and Families At Risk grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will establish a program to close educational disparities among at-risk children.

The program model, called Check and Connect, recognizes that academic success is influenced by multiple factors, including family, school and community. It was developed by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration.

“We recognize that children are influenced by multiple contexts,” said Dr. Javiette Samuel, who wrote the grant proposal, adding that there are multiple layers to the curriculum, which will be taught to afterschool program staff. “We’re going to be engaging the family as well.”

Samuel is an associate extension administrator and associate professor in KSU’s College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems, Division of Family and Consumer Sciences.

KSU’s project will be conducted at afterschool programs in Lexington and Frankfort. In Lexington, Samuel’s team will work with the staff of an existing afterschool program at the Imani Family Life Center. The grant will also be used to establish and train staff for an afterschool program at KSU’s Rosenwald Center for Families and Children.

The program is designed to improve school performance, promote relationship building, develop problem-solving skills and increase persistence for marginalized students. Students are expected to improve in school attendance, personal behavior, academic performance and engagement. The program will also help parents to cultivate a home environment conducive to academic success.