Above: Sarah Heinz House will offer more after school programming with a recent grant from JCPenney. (Photo by Kaitlin Balmert)

One out of every four children in the United States is left unattended between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. each weekday. With a grant from JCPenney, Pittsburgh youth will have a chance to better this ratio with an opportunity to attend an afterschool program at the Sarah Heinz House Boys & Girls Club.

The Sarah Heinz House Boys & Girls Club received a $7,500 access grant from JCPenney. This grant will help provide children with the opportunity to attend an afterschool program at the Sarah Heinz House.

 “The more kids that get involved are more kids that are off the streets and in a structured environment. They come here right after school and get homework help, free meals, free snacks,” said Bob Bechtold, Director of Recruitment and Outreach at Sarah Heinz House. “They’re in a positive place.”

The grant will specifically target families whose children who are not currently enrolled in an afterschool program or those who are on the verge of withdrawing due to financial hardship.
According to Bechtold, 27 children will benefit from the grant with scholarships to cover membership and program fees. Three of those children already had memberships and would’ve been forced to resign from the program without this grant.

The grant will also support operational costs. The Sarah Heinz House has added new staff members to aid recently added programs. Typical programs at Sarah Heinz House start at 4:30 p.m., but a new program was added that starts at 3 p.m. to cover children who come immediately after school. This daily program bridges that gap so students get right into structured activities upon entering the building.

The Sarah Heinz House offers an affordable afterschool program to over 1,000 youth annually. It features adult role models who work with children to foster social, physical and academic development.

This grant is part of a larger, multi-million dollar distribution from JCPenney that benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCA, National 4-H and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Sarah Reagle is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh. She writes columns for The Pitt News and is an editor at Collision Literary Magazine.