6/29/15: Summertime is Prime Time for Learning, Fun

Modified: June 29, 2015 2:49pm

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Poloncarz Announces Prime Time Grants

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (at podium) is joined by Commissioner of Social Services Al Dirschberger, Erie County Legislator Tom Loughran (applauding), and  enthusiastic campers at Camp Centerland as he announces the return of summer Prime Time grants to assist organizations serving youth to expand programming and hours during the summer months. Camp Centerland is one of 56 local agencies receiving such grants this summer. The happy campers also received art kits to add to their summer creativity and learning.

Operation Prime Time Funds Awarded to 56 Not-For-Profit Agencies Providing Summer Youth Anti-Crime and Enrichment Programs 

Agencies Receive Art Kits to Enhance Program Offerings

ERIE COUNTY, NY—Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined at Camp Centerland in Amherst by Erie County Legislator Tom Loughran (5th District), Erie County Commissioner of Social Services Al Dirschberger, Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo Board President Gretchen Gross,  community leaders, and enthusiastic children enjoying their first day at summer camp as they begin a summer full of recreational fun and learning. Camp Centerland is one of 56 local not-for-profit agencies that are expanding their 2015 summer programming with “Prime Time” grants provided by Erie County. Grants range from $1,993 to $10,000 and help to provide for an adult-supervised environment for the 10-week school summer recess period. Prime Time grants also assist receiving agencies in creating and staffing structured recreational activities that prevent delinquency, increase socialization, and foster respect for authority.

“Operation Prime Time provides a better summer experience for children, parents, and families all across Erie County. Children are able to learn while having fun in the summer, socializing with their peers in a safe and structured environment that’s good for them and for their parents’ peace of mind,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This year, sites will also be receiving art kits for their middle-school age participants to enjoy, bringing a new level of creativity and learning to their summer. These popular kits provided enhanced art instruction for thousands of students in Erie County during the past school year and will now be a part of a memorable summer for many more children.”

Prime Time programs primarily serve youth in need and offer positive development opportunities, access to safe places for summer programs, and a wide range of activities including arts, community service, recreation, and field trips  that are offered by the various program participants. Programs also include educational components. While many of the recipient programs are located in the City of Buffalo, there are others in the City of Lackawanna, the Towns of Amherst, Tonawanda, Orchard Park, Eden, Holland, and Aurora, and elsewhere.

Erie County Legislator Tom Loughran added, “Prime Time grants are an investment in our youth, helping them to enjoy supervised activities in programs all around Erie County for 10 weeks each summer. This is a great example of how Erie County government works with partners in the not-for-profit sector to provide the services that residents expect and rely on, with expanded opportunities for children to learn, participate, and socialize in safe environments with their friends.”

Department of Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger said, “These programs were thoroughly reviewed by our volunteer Erie County Youth Board, with members scoring each funding proposal and interviewing agency representatives. This process ensures the agencies that provide the best outcomes are getting the resources they need to provide programming for our youth. The department received its highest number of responses in several years and it was difficult for the Board to choose among the many high-quality youth programs in our community. I strongly recommend for families to take advantage of these programs as summer youth programs have been shown to improve outcomes for children.”

Programs receiving funding are asked to operate from 12 pm to 7 pm from Monday through Saturday. Prioritized program areas, designed for youths ages six to 18, include academic enrichment; cultural enrichment (arts, music, science); career enrichment; youth leadership, community service and civic engagement; and gang and violence prevention. Supervised recreation may serve as a part of a program but cannot be a program by itself.

Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center Rick Zakalik added, “Serving children who might not otherwise be able to afford a camp experience is a realization of our mission to serve all members of the community without regard to religion, ethnicity or economic status.  The assistance that the Prime Time grant affords us is key to providing transportation, programming, and scholarships to those in need. This summer, a diverse group of more than 400 campers will enjoy an outstanding camping experience, close to home and saturated with exposure to nature, socialization, and community.  They will enjoy arts and crafts, sports, swimming, and more at state-of-the-art facilities staffed by well-trained counselors and specialists.  We are pleased to share the JCC’s more than 70 years of camping experience with a larger group of kids thanks to the Prime Time grant.”

Agencies receiving Operation Prime Time funding in 2015 include: Access of WNY; Ahowi Focus Group; Back to Basics; Be-A-Friend Program (Big Brothers Big Sisters); Blossom Garden Friends School; Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, Holland, East Aurora, Eden, and the Northtowns; Buffalo Urban League; Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology; Child & Adolescent Treatment Services; C.R.U.C.I.A.L; City of Lackawanna; Community Action Organization; Cradle Beach Camp; Computers for Children; Concerned Ecumenical Ministries; Elim Community Corp.; Enlightenment Bookstore; Girl Scouts of WNY; Group Ministries; Jericho Road Community Center; Jewish Community Center; King Urban Life Center; Lackawanna Sports & Education; Locust Street; Love Alive Fellowship Full Gospel Baptist Church; Westside Community Center; Metro CDC Delavan-Grider Community Center; Mt. Olive; Native American Community Services; North Buffalo Community Center; Northwest Buffalo Community Center; Old First Ward Community Association; Parker Academy; Peace of the City Ministries; Lt. Col. Matt Urban Center; Seneca Babcock Community Association; Seneca Street Community Development Corp.; the Belle Center; the Town of Hamburg; the Town of Tonawanda; True CDC; Tru-Way Community Center; UB Center for Urban Studies; University District CDA; Town of Tonawanda Recreation; Willie Hutch Jones Sports & Education; Willie Hutch Jones Sports (Detention); Valley Community Association; West Side Community; WNY Network of English Teachers; WNY Peace Center; YMCA Buffalo/Niagara; and YMCA of WNY. Total funding for the program is $419,581.