Funding for popular Norwich learning program extended

Norwich - The public school system will receive $200,000 per year for the next five years to continue and to expand to a third school the popular Bridges extended learning program.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Wednesday that Norwich was one of 14 school districts statewide to receive a combined $2.5 million through the U.S. Department of Education for the state's 21st Century Community Learning Center program. In Norwich, the grant will fund the Bridges after-school program at the John M. Moriarty, Uncas and Wequonnoc elementary schools.

Ross Anderson, Norwich extended learning program coordinator, said the grant will continue the program now that the initial five-year grant has expired.

He formed partnerships with four outside entities to expand the scope of the program. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeastern Connecticut will provide 20 high school mentors for younger students. The 4H Club and the University of Connecticut Extension Service will bring science and agricultural programs. The Sea Research Foundation will bring online science programs and the Mystic nonprofit group Reforest the Tropics will provide lessons on climate change and its effects on sensitive tropical ecosystems.

About 180 Norwich students in kindergarten through fifth grade participate in Bridges. The grant is supplemented by a $35 per session fee that allows the program to continue through the summer, Anderson said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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