Foster Grandparent program to cease operation next month

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SUPERIOR, WI– A Northland program that pairs grandparents with children and teens for tutoring and mentoring is coming to an end.

In a letter to community members dated May 6, Catholic Community Services said its parent organization would not be extending sponsorship of their Senior Corps grants.

That means the Foster Grandparents program will shut down come June 30.

In a statement to KBJR 6, the organization said, “We deeply value and appreciate the contributions of the many individuals that have committed to improving the lives of thousands of people throughout our communities through these programs.”

“It’s a bridge for the senior to come in and really help out their community and give back,” said James Erickson, principal at Laura MacArthur Elementary.

About 90 volunteers work with hundreds of children and teens across the Northland, and some of them in the Duluth School District.

“They spend time reading together, they spend time working on math together. It’s added support for students. It’s added extra support for classroom teachers,” said Erickson.

Laura MacArthur Elementary school in Duluth been taking advantage of the service.

“This has been a fixture in our building for at least 10 years if not longer. I think not being able to come will impact them a great deal,” he said.

Principal Erickson said for the entire school day, seniors provide one-on-one support in the classroom.

“Our grandparents come in and they’re able to provide that next step, or that little boost of energy for our students.”

Through this program, seniors receive a stipend of $2.65 per hour with benefits for their time at different organizations.

They use those funds to stretch a grocery budget, buy medication, or just for extra cash in their pocket.

The program is slated to come to an end on June 30.

Erickson said the program will be greatly missed by faculty and students.

“If they’re not here in the fall, they’ll be asking questions, ‘where’s grandma?'”

One volunteer we spoke with off-camera said the program is critical for the children the grandparents work with. She is confident the program will continue in one shape or another.

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SUPERIOR, WI – A program that offers grandparents a chance to tutor, mentor and be friends with children and teens will come to an end in June.

The Foster Grandparents of NE MN and NE WI Program has been a staple of Catholic Community Services for more than 40 years.

In a letter to community members dated May 6, the organization wrote that its parent organization Catholic Charities Bureau, Inc. would not be extending sponsorship of their Senior Corps grants through Corporation for National and Community Service beyond the current grant cycle which expires June 30.

“We deeply value and appreciate the contributions of the many individuals that have committed to improving the lives of thousands of people throughout our communities through these programs,” a statement sent to KBJR 6 read.

About 90 volunteers in six counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin touching hundreds children and teens would be impacted by the move.

Foster Grandparents serve 15-40 hours a week in local non-profit agencies and earn a stipend of $2.65 an hour, non-taxable. They also receive assistant with transportation costs, benefits including annual physicals and paid leave.

The program along with Retired Senior Volunteer programs receive state and federal funding.

“We are dedicated to supporting an orderly conclusion of our sponsorship as the area schools are wrapping up this year’s cycle and will commit to facilitating a transition of the grants to a new sponsor as determined by CNCS,” the organization said.

The President’s current budget for Fiscal Year 2020 proposes the elimination of CNCS. Funding has been requested for an orderly shutdown, the organization said.

We’ll have reaction to the announcement on the KBJR 6 News at 6 & 10.

Kevin Jacobsen

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director
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