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After-School Programs in Milwaukee Lose 2015 Grant Funding

LaToya Dennis

Children in Milwaukee may have fewer after-school options next year after an organization cut funding for the programs.

Running Rebels is one of 18 groups that’s losing grant money. Co-Executive Director Dawn Barnett explained Running Rebels’ mission and what the loss of funding could mean.

"Next year will be our 35th anniversary. We’ve been providing services to the community, mainly youth services. We have a variety of programs geared towards giving young people alternatives to being in the streets and some of the negative things that are out there. So we have school based programs where we’re inside of middle schools and high schools to provide added support for students there. We have after-school programs and we also have programs that deal with young people that are involved in the criminal justice system," Barnett says.

Barnett says the funding source, Safe & Sound, explained it was shifting its focus and will no longer provide funding for after-school programming.

"And we look forward to working with them. They’re going to be doing some things with youth organizing and some other strategies in the community, but one thing they won’t be doing any longer is providing funding for after school programs," Harris says. "So organizations that have been providing funding for years through Safe & Sound are now kind of looking around for other resources to fund their after school programs."

Barnett says the loss in 2015 funding is $40,000.

"Enough to where we have to make some decisions about how we’re going to continue to operate and what changes do we need to make. Our hope was that through (Community Development Block Grants) and the City of Milwaukee that we’d be able to  make up for it with some funds that they have for organizations serving youth, but there just was not enough funds to go around to be able to support all of the after school programs that are out there," Barnett says.

"After school programs are extremely important. They are that safe place that young people can go to to do their homework, to get something to eat. You know, sometimes young people are in a house with 15 other people and there’s not a place where they can have to be able to sit down and do something as simple as doing their homework. It’s a place where they can be around positive adults to help them make better decisions in their lives. So instead of spending time with negative influences out there on the streets, they can be around positive adults in a positive atmosphere working on positive things. So it’s extremely, extremely important to the young people and families of Milwaukee," she says.

In a statement, Safe & Sound Executive Director Katie Sanders says the organization is shifting its role in 2015. It will focus on youth development initiatives aimed at building safe and strong neighborhoods. Sanders says the group is excited to work with Running Rebels, and other groups, on the new efforts.

In September, WUWM's LaToya Dennis spoketo young people who've been involved with Running Rebels.

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