PITTSBURG -- A bare-bones after-school program for Pittsburg High School students is slated to get bigger and better next year as a result of a $1.25 million federal grant.

The free program offered through the nonprofit STS (Success Through Self) Academy provides mentoring, tutoring and homework help for about 40 Pittsburg High students at a drop-in teen center at City Park.

That will change with the 2014-15 school year thanks to a grant that will provide $250,000 annually in funding over five years. The upshot is that an additional 99 students will be able to sign up for expanded after-school offerings that will include mentoring, college test preparation, paid and unpaid internships, job shadowing and on-the-job training.

Most of the offerings will be on the Pittsburg High campus. And through partnerships with Contra Costa County and other community partners, STS Academy hopes to serve 175 students,

"This is huge," said Jim Craft, the academy's executive director. "It will allow us to do additional programs. It increases our budget, and it gives us the resources that we need to serve our community and those families."

The grant money will support new programs that will "focus on academics and careers (to) build a bridge for our youth to gain the skills that they need to go into a career, whether it's laying bricks or being a doctor ... Not every kid is cut out for college," he said. "We hope to establish shadowing opportunities, mentoring opportunities as well as internships."

There also will be outreach efforts to increase parental involvement in students' education.

"If you can get the family, the parents involved, it will make a huge difference for the kids," Grant said. "We will be working extremely hard this summer to establish the staff that we need and to have programs ready to start on the very first day of school."

The 21st Century Community Learning Center High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSET) federal grant was awarded in May to the Pittsburg Afterschool Community Collaborative. Collaborative members include STS Academy acting as the lead agency, the city of Pittsburg, Pittsburg Unified School District, Contra Costa County, FBC Community Outreach, California School-Age Consortium, 100 Black Men, People Who Care, Future Build, Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor Federal Glover and other community partners.

The state-administered, federally funded program supports before- and after-school programs at schools in low-income communities with academic enrichment opportunities and supportive services. At Pittsburg High, 78 percent of the 2,624 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, according to the grant application.

"This program will help young people not only with their academics but also help them with personal and economic needs," Glover said. "The best antidote to youth gangs and senseless street violence is to give young people opportunities and hope."

Funding from a previous grant ran out in June 2012, resulting in the bare-bones after-school program that exists now. In the Bay Area, ASSET grants were also obtained by the Alameda County Office of Education, the Oakland Unified School District and Mount Pleasant High School in San Jose.

"It's a very competitive application process. There are only a handful of grant applications that received this funding," said Joe Hudson, a state Department of Education representative who works with ASSET grants.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

if YOU GO
A meeting for those interested in community efforts to support Pittsburg High School student and their families will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the high school library, 1750 Harbor St.