ARP Expands Opportunities for Out of School Time

American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds provide expanded opportunities for out of school time


The past two years have been challenging for young people in many ways, and with students back in person, the need for engagement in afterschool programs is even more critical for young people. For Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), COVID Relief Federal Funding as well as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant has made it possible for SPPS to expand Flipside.   Flipside is a free after school program that provides an opportunity for safe and fun extended day learning to students by allowing them to participate in a variety of high quality academic and enrichment activities, to all Middle Schools in the district.


Additional funds have made it possible for Flipside to run programming at 5 new schools to total 11 for this current school year, and the hope is to open Flipside at an additional 5 schools next fall. In total, the Flipside program aims to serve 16 schools with middle school students across the entire SPPS district.   Hazel Park Preparatory Academy is one of the middle schools heavily impacted by the funding as they were able to bring back Flipside as an additional extended day learning opportunity. 


“The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has presented school districts across the country with an incredible opportunity. Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) is receiving approximately $207 million to be used over the next three years for COVID-19 response efforts and to address long-term student outcomes that have been impacted by the pandemic.”  - SPPS


With a Flipside site at  Hazel Park Prep came a new Program Coordinator Lucria Scott. Having joined in January, Lucria is off to a running start as more students opt to stay afterschool in Flipside programming. Prior to her arrival there was low enrollment in extended day learning  due to limited transportation. The ARP Funds have been used to ensure students have busing at the end of programming which happens on Monday and Wednesday with the hope of becoming Monday through Thursday in person. There are fun enrichment opportunities such as Phenomenal Boys, Youth Conquer, Act Up and Act Out!, Cooking with Math and much more. There are also virtual classes available but many of the students were excited to stay afterschool and participate in person.  


A sneak peak of the different classes showed a lot of engaging learning, the students in Act Up and Act Out! were reading through a play they were planning to reenact. In Cooking with Math, students followed a recipe to bake a blueberry muffin. Lastly students ranging from Kindergarten to 3rd grade were glued to their screens playing computer activities.  


Jumping between getting students to the right enrichment class, solving a login issue and touching base with the different students and instructors, Lucria has worked hard to establish great afterschool opportunities with Flipside. She details that the impact of the ARP Funding alongside the 21st Century grant has been immense and that she is excited to be a part of something that was once taken away due to lack of funding. Stopping by Youth Conquer and connecting with Julie, the coordinator, there was a lot to learn from some of the work and learning they were doing. From restorative practices and conversations about cultural identity to team building activities, the students were excited to be in the space. Two students, Best Yang and Jackson Moo, highlighted that their parents wanted them in afterschool programming but that it was also fun for them and a chance to learn about others and improve themselves. In addition to Flipside, Hazel Park also offers Freedom School Express which is led by Dr. Darcel Hill. Freedom School Express provides free, comprehensive, culturally relevant afterschool enrichment to students and the curriculum focuses on math and reading while also having culturally responsive material and teachers, parent empowerment workshops, college readiness etc. The ARP Funds have also given transportation for students participating in Freedom School Express.  


This year enrollment in Flipside increased substantially and Lucria hopes that the program will increase enrollment to a sustainable range in the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. There was a survey taken of the students to see what should be offered and with that choice, students are even more thrilled and passionate to join Flipside. Lucria wants afterschool to be fun and accessible for students and in collaboration with administration and teachers the school can continue to be lively through extended day learning.  


For parents and students interested in Flipside, check out the teenventure summer camps. Registration is now open! Saint Paul Public Schools also has a variety of summer opportunities for all ages. You can find more information HERE