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The Senate Education Committee endorsed a bill Wednesday that creates a state competitive grant program for high-quality after-school programs.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate Education Committee endorsed a bill Wednesday that creates a state competitive grant program for high-quality after-school programs.

Such programs have primarily relied on federal or private funds, said Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake, sponsor of SB202.

Escamilla said the grants would be administered by the Utah State Board of Education and the Department of Workforce Services and require matching funds. The bill seeks $250,000 to be appropriated equally to the two agencies.

Escamilla said she seeks to develop private-public partnerships to deliver programs that meet quality standards and outcome measures.

Grants would not be appropriated "until applicants certify they have funds available," she said.

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Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said state grants need to serve students of the greatest need, not applicants who "are the better grant writers."

Escamilla agreed, noting that her goal is focus on developing high-quality programs in areas with high concentrations of children who qualify for free school lunch, working-poor families and school communities committed to reducing absenteeism.

"That’s my district, to be very blunt," Escamilla said.

SB202 moves to the Utah Senate for its consideration.

— Marjorie Cortez