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New afterschool program models a Rockford area summer program


Three Rockford nonprofits are kicking off the third year of their combined summer program, but the fun won’t stop when the season ends.

New Genres Art Space, the Fairgrounds Boys & Girls Club and the Rockford Area Arts Council started the NEW WAYS program in 2020.

Jason Judd, the cofounder of New Genres, said the program doesn’t create masters of digital art, but it gives the children exposure.

“Until maybe they - in their head,” he said, “they're like, ‘Oh, well, I have a little bit of competence in animation now or now I know how to navigate a program' that they've never had to navigate before.’”

Judd said the nonprofits wanted to extend the program so that it could touch a larger population.

“We only hit a percentage of the students who are at the Boys and Girls Club in the summer. Right? And it's the summer,” Judd said. “It's hit or miss. People are outside playing football, going on vacation, things like that.”

A $50,000 Regrow grant made it possible for an afterschool program. The Regrow grant is funded by the City of Rockford’s 3% local tax on adult-use cannabis retail sales.

Digital Fairgrounds will start in September at the Boys & Girls Club. Like the summer program, it will offer digital art, animation, 3-D design, printing and other things.

For more information visitartsforeveryone.com.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.