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$14.5M 'life changing' for SC groups helping students overcome pandemic learning loss

$14.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds will go to at least 45 S.C. organizations and over 4,000 students to help with pandemic learning loss.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — An economic boost for organizations working to help students in need.

$14.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds will go to 45 South Carolina organizations and over 4,000 students in the first year alone to help with pandemic learning loss.

Zelda Waymer leads the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and has partnered with the State Department of Education to provide the dollars to groups and school districts to expand summer and afterschool programs.

RELATED: SC Department of Education to provide $14.5 million to expand summer, after-school learning to address COVID-19 losses

"We don't normally get these opportunities to serve and be able to have enough resources to serve children, youth and their families and so this is a life changing opportunity for nonprofits, for children and their families," Waymer said. "Some programs will provide science, technology and engineering opportunities to students, college and career readiness, provide internships to the older students, also reading and math academic support.”

According to the State Department of Education, students were put months behind in reading and math due to the pandemic, but faced challenges beforehand.

RELATED: SC high schoolers face reading challenges after underperforming on state tests

It's just one of the issues James McLawhorn with the Columbia Urban League hopes to tackle with the $1 million their organization is receiving.

"For years there's been an achievement gap… and it’s not because they can't learn, it’s because many of those student's parents don't have the resources," McLawhorn said. "So this is, we see it as, a once in a lifetime opportunity to close the achievement gap that has been compounded by the learning loss gap that occurred during the pandemic.”

They're developing a program to connect families with resources like tutoring to help students improve.

RELATED: Lawmakers approve measure to give teachers break time each day

"So, we're very excited about it," McLawhorn said.

Organizations interested in applying for funds can connect with the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance on its website. 

Applications are closed for now, but the group encourages those interested to join their membership to learn more about future opportunities.

Parents can also visit their website to find resources.