Tennessee: ExCel

Brief Site Description: 
The state of Tennessee ranks 43rd out of 50 states in the level of child well-being as assessed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in the publication KIDS COUNT, 2009. Tennessee ranks higher (worse) than the national average on all ten indicators of child well-being. Tennessee also has the 6th highest poverty rate amongst school-aged children (Census 2010). Additionally, three quarters of Tennessee's eighth graders are below their grade level in reading, math and science. At the local level both of our community sites have serious needs for integrating a quality afterschool program. Both sites have elementary schools with afterschool programs. However, upon entering middle school no afterschool programs exist. This not only creates a hardship for families who were dependent upon afterschool previously but also brings to a halt any enrichment learning gains upon entering 6th grade when they need it more than ever as risky behaviors increase in middle school. Other needs for both sites show a reduced lunch rate at 82% and 66%; obesity rate of 27% and 35%; in-school suspensions at 20% and 22%; both schools have been designated failing schools. At the community level unemployment rates are 18% and 20% in Scott County the highest in the state. Outside of existing data, a needs assessment was conducted at both schools including parents, teachers, students and administration. The top five needs identified were: 1) student motivation to achieve academically; 2) enhance social skills of students; 3) prevention of student risky behaviors; 4) attention to obesity issues; and, 5) programs to support families and parents. Finally, one of the main reasons UT Extension selected this outcome is because we have in place six existing afterschool programs across the state and have been administering them since 2005. Why is this important? Because over the past 7 years we have become experts at developing successful programs that have proven through research to help students improve academically, socially and emotionally. Also, we are equipped with several research-based curricula, materials, equipment, staff handbooks, etc. readily available to use. In other words, our program will be ready to hit the ground running once funding begins. Finally, our afterschool programs have been so successful that the TN Dept of Ed. has partnered with UT Extension to help educate staff from the other 250 afterschool programs they fund. With that said, consequently, no middle school afterschool programs are funded by the TN Dept.of Ed. in both Sumner and Scott counties are two community sites. Through this program we hope to impact students and their families both academically and non-academically. Academically we hope to increase student's grades (specifically in Reading, Math and Science) as well as increase their school attendance and decrease truancy and suspensions. Non-academically, we hope to better student's decision-making skills, character, adult-child relationships, leadership skills and decrease bullying, misbehavior, and risky behaviors.