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New Jersey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Soaring Beyond Expectations, Aferschool Programs

New Jersey Department of Education Office of Student Support Services 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and Out-of-School Time Resources
New Jersey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Soaring Beyond Expectations, Aferschool Programs

Project Director:  Josepha M. Penrose
4300 Pacific Avenue
Wildwood, NJ 08260-4625
(609) 522-7922

County:  Cape May

Servicing School District: Wildwood

CCLC Sites: Wildwood Middle School, Glenwood Avenue Elementary School

Partners: Community Center for the Arts, Lunch with Lynch Foundation, Cape Assist, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Ryan's Case for Smiles and the Cape May County Library

Serving Grade Level: 4-9

No. of Students to be served: 101

No. of Adults to be Served: 75

Times of Services:  Afterschool:  3:00-6:00p.m.; Summer 8:00-1:00p.m.


The 21st Century Learning Center program will serve middle and elementary school students and parents from the Wildwood School District. The Wildwood Middle School and Glenwood Avenue Elementary school have recently been identified as Focus schools by the NJDOE with the target for improvement being reducing the gaps in academic outcomes between students with disabilities and regular education students.  Prior to this year, both schools have been considered Schools in Need of Improvement under NCLB.  The Wildwood School District has been identified by the United States Census Bureau since 2008 as having the highest concentration of students living in poverty within the State of New Jersey at 36%.  As a consequence of this status, our students have social, emotional, cultural, and academic needs that cannot be fulfilled adequately within the regular school day. Their families also have need of education in parenting, strategies for supporting their students in their school work, healthy lifestyles, and the English language.  

For years, the school district has endeavored to provide extended day and year programs for our students from local and other funding sources, but these programs have been reduced in length and duration as budgets have been cut.  We have also, at times, provided English language classes and other educational programs for parents both from school district funds as well as through the assistance of non-profit community organizations.   The 21st CCLC grant enables us to reintroduce programs that have been lost or reduced, and to extend to a much greater degree the experiential learning so vital to students that are often denied these opportunities due to their socioeconomic status.  These learning opportunities would enable us to strengthen the background of students who because of poverty and the extremely transient nature of our student population, have been missed earlier in their academic career.  This strengthening of background and experience will allow our students to become better readers and writers due to the connections they will have the capacity to make through increased exposure.  These enriched experiences will enable them to acquire the skills they need to produce the types of work required of 21st Century learners such as writing explanatory and persuasive essays based on their knowledge and to make the kind of progress that will enable to meet the annual measurable progress.  

Our students need hands-on experiences in order to truly be able to apply what they have learned or explain when they are asked.  In a recent data analysis of students who have not been transient but who have been in the district for at least three years, we have found a statistically significant difference in performance  on the NJASK 3,4, and 5.  We are currently analyzing the data for grades 6, 7, and 8.  We draw the conclusion from this data that our program, when implemented consistently and thoroughly is effective despite the challenges our students face.   Therefore, opportunities to fill in gaps in background and instruction through comprehensive extended day and year programs at our middle school and a high intensity summer program at the elementary school and middle school would be a positive step toward decreasing the  opportunity gaps that exists  for  all of our students and their families. For our students and their families, programs like the 21st CCLC are not just an option, they are really they only option in terms of quality learning experiences after school.