Club Yancey provides at-risk students with structured activities after the school day

An after-school program that serves students from Albemarle County Public Schools is the recipient of a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the Virginia Department of Education.

The $142,000 grant—which is renewable for three years and could total as much as $426,000—will help expand the academic and physical fitness group known as Club Yancey from 50 to about 90 participants. Those participants will also see tuition drop from $100 per month to $100 per year.

“This grant will significantly expand our ability to support students and their families who are in need,” said Craig Dommer, principal of Yancey Elementary School.

“The name of the grant is community learning, and that is an excellent description of what Club Yancey has been promoting,” Dommer added. “Now we can extend these benefits to more children and their families.”

Now in its 8th year, Club Yancey provides at-risk students with four hours of structured activities after the school day. More than 70 percent of students in the Esmont school are from economically disadvantaged homes, which is the largest percentage in Albemarle County.

Dommer said most of these students don’t have access to the resources that many others do.

“Studies show that students from families that constantly face economic challenges often have to overcome substantial academic challenges as well,” Dommer said. “The purpose of Club Yancey is to level the field for these students and help them to become successful lifelong-learners and professionals.”

Outside of the VDOE grant, a group of southern Albemarle citizens called the Yancey Workgroup have recommend that Yancey be transformed into an intergenerational learning center similar to the Jefferson School in Charlottesville.

In December 2012, due to low enrollment at the school, both the Albemarle School Board and Board of Supervisors charged the Yancey Workgroup with finding additional uses for the building that plays home to Club Yancey.

Kimberly McLaughlin, the club’s director, welcomed the grant, and urged the public to contribute to the project.

“We are enormously grateful for these contributions,” McLaughlin said. “While the state funds provide much-needed, short-term financial stability, we will continue to need the support and participation of our local community partners, donors, and hopefully new donors in making the benefits of Club Yancey sustainable for more children and families.”