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Eden Center in NK to receive grant

The Weed and Seed program has come through for the youth in New Kensington and Arnold.

Chip Bell, local Weed and Seed coordinator, said this week that the state agency that oversees Weed and Seed has awarded the Eden Center in New Kensington a $75,000 grant.

It will be paid in installments over the next four years with a local match in the third and fourth years.

Bell said that officials with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency recently notified him that the grant had been awarded. The grant was one of three awarded to the cities in its first year of involvement in Weed and Seed.

The cities entered their second year of the program in July.

Weed and Seed is a state initiative that supports struggling communities by offering state resources to fight crime and blight. There are more than a dozen communities across the state that participate in the program.

The money headed to the Eden Center will be used to run an after-school program at least twice per week that is open to school-age children. The program will focus on school performance and combatting teen pregnancy.

The Eden Center, at 1040 Kenneth Ave., is a youth outlet associated with Bibleway Christian Fellowship Church. Starting early next month, for two hours after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the center will host between 25 and 50 children in elementary school through high school who need extra support.

Mitch Nickols, Bibleway pastor and Eden Center director, said children will receive help in doing homework and will be exposed to cultural arts. Every effort, he said, will be made to impress upon the students the importance of success in the classroom and of regular attendance.

“We want to target the kids who are having difficulty in school,” Nickols said. “If kids can’t do homework, they’re not going to do well in school.”

Nickols hopes to have high school students who have shown discipline in the classroom volunteer some of their time to tutor younger students. He said he already has commitments from adult volunteers, including a current Valley High School teacher and a retired one.

Nickols also plans to have seminars for high school students on Saturdays meant to inspire them and prepare them for success after graduation.

On the subject of teen pregnancy, Nickols said, “If kids are involved academically and sense they can do well academically or are involved in extra-curricular activities at school, they are less likely to get pregnant because they think about their futures.”

Nickols said that if the program is a success, it might be expanded to more than two days per week.

Nickols built into his grant application with the state a line item for a van so that children can be taken home after the after-school sessions. He also built in a line item for a computer upgrade at the center.

Towns await for earlier grants

In addition to the grant headed to the Eden Center, the commission on crime and delinquency earlier this year awarded a $75,000 grant to the Alle-Kiski Learning Center in Arnold to be used in expanding a production studio there — another program that will offer children in the community a constructive outlet.

Also, the New Kensington and Arnold police departments were awarded a $75,000 grant to purchase equipment and finance overtime tallied in serving warrants.

None of the organizations have received the funds, which come in the form of four-year grants that need to be matched locally at 25 percent the third year and 50 percent the fourth year.

Additional Information:

To register your child

Parents who want their children enrolled in the Eden Center after-school program should call Bibleway Christian Fellowship Church at 724-335-3344. Adult or student volunteers should call Larry Rowe at 724-335-8426.


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