By JOHN HOWELL
$2.85 doesn’t buy much these days, but that’s what the average per pupil expenditure works out to be for two Warwick Rotary Club $10,000 grants awarded organizations …
$2.85 doesn’t buy much these days, but that’s what the average per pupil expenditure works out to be for two Warwick Rotary Club $10,000 grants awarded organizations whose work impacts nearly 7,000 Warwick youths.
Both grant recipients, the Police Athletic League and Volunteers of Warwick Schools, VOWS, work with the Warwick School Department and plenty of kids. From 700 to 750 youths ranging in age from 4 to 21 years old participate in PAL athletic programs from bowling, basketball and lacrosse to wrestling, cheerleading, football, hockey boxing and wrestling. In addition, PAL has a mentor program of about 20 kids that it is looking to expand.
It’s hard to calculate exactly how many youths VOWS impacts. About 2,000 youths between three and five years olds need to be screened before entering the school system annually. VOWS director Nicole Spirito said approximately half that number are screened. Through its Child Reach program VOWS aims to improve participation. The preschoolers are screened for speech, language, vision and gross motor skills as they can be matched with programs the district offers once they enter the system. VOWS also runs Heads Up, an anti-bullying ten-week once a week program for third graders. The program is run entirely by volunteers and uses puppets to get across its message.
Topping that, every school has a VOWS coordinator who looks to assist teachers and staff with academic support. There’s no telling how many students are impacted. Coordinators are all volunteers. VOWS has a paid staff of three.
Spirito and Officer Russell Brown say the grants will enable to expand their programs and do things they had dreamed of.
Brown looks to expand the PAL mentor program that is aimed at students identified by teachers, guidance counselors and principals as being at risk. The program is run by police officers who volunteer their time to work with the students once a week. The Rotary Club funding would enable field trips and other activities. The funds would also allow the expansion of scholarships used to share or cover the cost of athletic programs that parents can’t afford. PAL athletic programs can run north of $250.
With the Rotary Club money, Spirito looks to start a pilot Heads Up program for fourth and fifth graders.
Janice Constantine, who heads the Rotary Club’s charity committee, said the group considered several nonprofit organizations before selecting PAL and VOWS as award recipients. Ten Thousand of the award funds are provided by an anonymous donor, who requires that it be matched by the club. Requirements of the funds are that they go to a Warwick-based non profit organization working with youths, the elderly or veterans. The club raises its matching portion of the $20,000 through events such as its annual Thanksgiving morning 5K Turkey Trot at City Park and member contributions.