By CBS Baltimore Staff

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Howard County Executive, Calvin Ball, announced $750,000 for HoCo STRIVES to help tackle the achievement gap for Howard County students.

HoCo STRIVES, which stands for Strategies To Reach an Inclusive Vision and Equitable Solutions, provides resources and services including food access programs, mental health access, and social and emotional learning programs. It was created to ensure Howard County students could succeed in school.

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“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 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.”

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The additional funds will support three initiatives:

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  • Doubling the capacity for the Summer Scholars program. (From 90 to 180)
  • Establishing an after-school program at Deep Run Elementary.
  • 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.”

CBS Baltimore Staff