21st Century Community Learning Centers is a program enacted in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Education that offers educational services to students and their families via formula grants. The goal of this funding opportunity is to support the continuing development of community learning centers for low-income residents and low-performing schools. By providing academic enrichment opportunities outside of normal schools hours, it is a program designed to help students achieve the test scores they need to meet state standards in core academic curriculum subjects like math, literature and science.
Each year, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program grants over 50 awards to a number of selected low-income schools, summing up to over 1 billon dollars in awards endowed each year. In order to be considered for this program, the institution seeking funding must be a State Education Agency (SEA) that meets eligibility qualifications. Eligibility qualifications include institutions that are local educational agencies, community-based organizations, a public or private entity, faith-based educational organizations, or are associated with two or more of these entities. Local education agencies and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for subgrants from the state as well.
This funding opportunity is an essential step for institutions whose low-income budgets limit the amount of resources they can provide for their students. Through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, schools will have greater access to funding for after school programs, testing materials and tutoring services to help improve the academic standards and quality of learning for their students.