The afterschool program provided by the YMCA is expanding this year thanks to a grant.

Elizabeth Chappell told the Hawkins County School Board on Thursday night that the Y has received a grant allowing it to open new sites at St. Clair, Bulls Gap, Mooresburg, Joseph Rogers and Carter Valley. Two established sites at Church Hill Elementary and Mt. Carmel are funded by the same type of grant.

“Our goal for the program is to reach 230 students in Hawkins County, between the eight sites,” Chappell said. She is the director of youth development for the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA.

Students qualify for the program based on four qualifying areas: attendance, grades/academics, home life and behavioral concerns.

“While our main focus in the afterschool program is to increase the students’ literacy and math skills, we also working on building social and emotional skills,” Chappell said.

The Y’s programs operate from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will continue throughout the summer Students are given a healthy snack and offered homework help, tutoring, enrichment programs and activities, and physical activities.

Staff members monitor student’s grades and report their progress to the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, which forwards the data to the state for funding and accountability purposes.

A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) coordinator visits the afterschool sites on a rotating basis to provide STEM activities, too. And once a month staff offers engagement activities for the students’ parents or guardians.

The grant requires that the program recruit volunteers within the county who help expose students to experiences they would not otherwise have access to, sometimes conduct workshops for parents. Partners can be individuals or businesses, and can work with one school or all schools.

The Hawkins County School System already partners with the Y, but more partners are always welcome.

The program also has staff positions available at Church Hill Elementary, Mt. Carmel, St. Clair and Carters Valley. Applicants can apply for the positions on Indeed.com.