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December 12, 2016
Grant to support academic achievement programs in Blount County schools

MONTGOMERY— Gov. Robert Bentley has announced a $75,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant to continue and expand programs to increase the academic performance of students in Blount County schools. 

The grant to the Blount County Education Foundation will continue the Expanding Horizons program. Started in 2011, the program has three main components. Summer Learning Experiences has Blount County schools open their libraries during summer break provide students with access to books, computers, the internet and structured academic activities. Improved Resources provides enhanced instructional materials for at-risk students who are performing below grade-level in core subjects, speak English as a second language or are homeless. The Ambassadors Program provides leadership training for high school students including community service and a "legislative issues day" in Montgomery.

“By giving all students the best opportunity to succeed, we help them be better prepared for the future which in turn will strengthen their communities,” Bentley said. “This program has already helped many, and I believe it will continue to do so well into the future. I commend the school system’s teachers and staff and the Blount County Education Foundation for their commitment to the success of their students.”

Overall, the program has impacted 2,822 students since 2011. There have been 160 high school ambassadors. The summer learning program has served 1,871 students.

Coinciding with the program, the district’s graduation rate has increased from 89 percent in 2011 to 91 percent for the 2014-2015 school year, officials said. They also report that 75 percent of Blount County students graduate with a College and Career Readiness Indicator, which is the third highest in the state.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama along with a wide range of other programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.

“This program within the Blount County school system is a great example of the federal-state-local partnerships we work with at their best,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. “The impact this is having on students is helping them be better prepared for college and future employment.”

The ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties, including 37 in Alabama, across the Appalachian Region. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. 


Contact: Russell Sellers, Mike Presley

For more information, visit:  http://www.adeca.alabama.gov/