BEACON program to resume some K-1 activities in January
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
Nov 21, 2013 | 2000 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When kindergartners and first graders return to Helen M. Knight Elementary in January, they’ll find more things to do after school.

Thanks to a local philanthropist’s donation, the BEACON Afterschool Program will once again offer a wide range of enrichment activities to HMK’s youngest students.

But the program is still searching for funding to fully restore academic assistance services at the kindergarten and first grade levels, according to BEACON Director Stephanie Dahlstrom.

BEACON, which stands for Building Essential Assets through Community Outreach and Networking, lost about $20,000 in Title I money due to the federal budget sequestration. As a result, program administrators eliminated services for kindergartners and first graders at the start of the current school year.

The cuts affected 100 of the 640 students that BEACON serves in an average year, but the impacts did not extend beyond the two grade levels.

The Helen M. Knight Community Council Coalition has since chipped in with a small amount of funding for an after-school K-1 tutor, which allows BEACON to resume academic assistance on a limited basis.

Better yet, a donation from Jennifer Speers makes it possible for BEACON to restart its K-1 arts and recreation clubs in 2014, along with its life skills, physical activity and nutrition programs, among many others.

Dahlstrom said she is very grateful for Speers’ help.

“She gives to a lot of different organizations in this community,” she said. “She’s very generous.”

BEACON has come to depend on donors like Speers – as well as state and federal grants – since funding from the Grand County School District now accounts for less than 10 percent of its annual budget.

For the last eight school years, the program has given students the help they need in order to meet academic standards in the areas of language arts, math and science. It also offers them a safe, healthy and fun place to hang out after many of their peers have gone home for the day.

Family members and others had a chance to learn all about the program on Nov. 19, when BEACON hosted a Lights On Afterschool celebration at HMK’s school cafeteria.

The celebration was one of more than 8,000 events across the country that draw attention to after-school activities.

According to the nonprofit Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool gives students the chance to showcase the skills and talents they develop with the help of programs like BEACON.

For more information, call 435-259-2767, or visit BEACON’s website at:

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