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A grant 4 CDA4Kids

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 8, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The coordinator of the Coeur d'Alene School District's CDA4Kids program gets a little choked up when he recalls the day a bunch of children made an ex-Marine cry. James Curb said it happened when some elementary school kids enrolled in the after-school program presented the former Marine with $100 they raised for the Toys for Tots charity.

COEUR d'ALENE - The coordinator of the Coeur d'Alene School District's CDA4Kids program gets a little choked up when he recalls the day a bunch of children made an ex-Marine cry.

James Curb said it happened when some elementary school kids enrolled in the after-school program presented the former Marine with $100 they raised for the Toys for Tots charity.

"He knew the money these kids were donating was going to go right back to many of them as toys," Curb said.

The story illustrates what Curb says is one of CDA4Kids' strongest points - interaction with and support from community members - adult volunteers, mentors and staff who work together to develop an environment where students are encouraged to explore and learn through new experiences.

"It's an effort to provide enrichment and support to children who need it," Curb said.

The Idaho State Department of Education announced Wednesday that CDA4Kids has been awarded a competitive grant of $256,350 to keep the program going in the district for the next year.

It is the first part of a five-year renewable grant that will net the district more than $1.2 million by the time it expires.

CDA4Kids is one of eight district-run after-school programs in the state to receive a portion of $1.63 million awarded this year, and the only one in North Idaho.

The competitive grants are federally funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Center program to support school district efforts to provide academic enrichment opportunities outside the regular school day, particularly for students attending schools where more students are economically disadvantaged.

Awards are determined by school and community needs, as well as the overall merit of each program.

CDA4Kids got its start nearly seven years ago when teachers from Borah Elementary witnessed students as young as kindergarten age arriving at school up to two hours before the first bell rang.

With financial assistance from the Kiwanis Club of Coeur d'Alene and the Idaho Community Foundation, the teachers started two educational support programs six years ago, "Wake Up and Read" and "Homework House."

Building on the success of those programs, the school district applied for and was awarded its first 21st CCLC grant five years ago.

The original grant allowed the district to establish programs at two schools, and with community support, CDA4Kids has expanded to six schools.

"This is very unique," Curb said. "The degree of community support is without match. We owe our success to that."

One of the key components of CDA4Kids is what they call "Hometown Heroes."

"It is a never-ending stream of volunteers who read with, tutor or come share a hobby with the kids," Curb said.

Roughly 125 students participated in the program this year, a number Curb expects to see grow.

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