Jerry Jones has been the executive director at the Martin Luther king Jr. Community Center for 12 years.
He says over the last decade, they’ve seen funding from the Community Development Block Grants nearly cut in half.
“There was a time when we could count on $200,000 dollars from CDBG, and now we’re down to $100,000,” says Jones.
Those cuts might be permanent under President Trump’s new budget.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the new budget will eliminate four block grant programs.
One of those being the CBDG.
Jones says they use the block grant to fund their after school program and summer day camp, which helps about 350 kids from the surrounding area.
“This surrounding neighborhood has a poverty rate of about 35% so we’re serving the kids in the most need with these programs.”
“It will make a big difference, academic and social, because the area is not the greatest, so keeping the kids off the streets is the best thing to do.”
After school program assistant Allycia Minter grew up participating in these programs and says they’re essential in helping kids learn.
“Teachers can’t do it by themselves, they have twenty-five kids in a classroom. So with them coming here, and breaking them down into smaller groups, even our older kids helping the younger kids,” says Minter.
“The program is doing so well with these kids that we’re seeing 20 to 25% of the kids improve their reading skills, improve their literacy skills,” says Jones.
Besides the financial effects Jones says he worries about how the possible grant elimination will be received by kids.
“It sends a message, in my mind, that the services they are being provided are not important and thus they’re not important,” says Jones.