Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced $750,000 for HoCo STRIVES in fiscal 2022 — an 88% increase over the fiscal 2021 budget — to tackle the achievement gap for Howard County students.
Launded in 2018, the HoCo STRIVES (Strategies To Reach an Inclusive Vision and Equitable Solutions) program serves as an umbrella for several initiatives that engage community partners to ensure all Howard County children and youth can succeed in school. The program provides resources and services such as food access programs, mental health access, and social and emotional learning programs.
“According to Ready at Five, prior to the pandemic in Howard County, 69% of white children were prepared for kindergarten, compared to 44% of Black children and 35% of Hispanic children,” said County Executive Ball. “We are using this moment to be proactive – we know that in the upcoming year the data will show these gaps that already existed were only exacerbated by the pandemic. That’s why we’re doing what we can to level the playing field for our students and families who have fallen behind. These investments we are making now will have a positive impact on our children and youth for the remainder of their lives.”
According to a County press release:
The additional funding will support three critical initiatives:
- Doubling the capacity for the Summer Scholars’ program from 90 to 180 students.
- Establishing an after-school program at Deep Run Elementary.
- And launching a new local leadership team in Elkridge to help identify student and community needs.
When we think of Howard County we think of our County’s affluence, and that’s a very positive thing, but we also need to lift up individuals in our community who have great challenges,” said Dr. Michael Martirano, HCPSS Superintendent. “In our school system 23% of our young people, close to 12,000 students qualify for free or reduce meals. Now more than ever we need to rally around our young people to provide the supports because of the regression that has occurred during the summer, and the regression that has occurred during the last 15 months that has really exacerbated our concerns. Thank you to County Executive Ball for acknowledging the challenges we have in our community and implementing targeted solutions that are going to actuate change for our young people and their families.”