OACAC and Discovery Center partner to offer classes for children in low-income families

Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 5:21 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation, known as OACAC, and the Discovery Center have partnered to offer new classes in science, technology, engineering and math to children in low-income families.

The new semester starts on Jan. 4. Rob Blevins, the executive director of the Discovery Center, says admissions into the program are rolling but the official cut-off will be all the spots are filled.

There are four educational programs being offered: a five-day virtual program, tutoring, five day in-person learning and a STEM pre-school class.

”There are a few things that experts agree is transformational when it comes to getting kids out of poverty, generational poverty, like to get them to that next level where they’re no longer in that poverty class,” Blevins says. “That’s mentoring and education. We see those things make tremendous differences in a child’s life.”

The funding for this collaboration came from CARES Act money. OACAC says there is an income eligibility requirement.

“An income eligibility at 125% of federal poverty guidelines,” OACAC’s Resource Development Manager, Lindsey Dumas-Bell, says. “To give an example, a family of four would be 32,750 annually.”

There’s only room for ten kids in the seated classroom to allow for masking and social distancing. Blevins says he hopes to be able to serve more than 140 kids total with this partnership.

“If you can get to a child early and they can learn that they are good at math then they can have access to these STEM careers, which is our future workforce,” Blevins says. “If we can work with these kids one-on-one in that sort of environment, we can really change their trajectory.”

Although the Discovery Center is in Springfield, this program is available to kids in all ten counties OACAC serves. The funding of this program makes it completely free for the families who participate.

“Education across the board in our ten county area on both surveys came up as an important aspect of what people were looking for, more educational opportunities for their children,” Dumas-Bell says.

OACAC says it can help determine if your child is eligible for the program by assessing your monthly or annual income.

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