21st Century Community Learning Center

21st Century Community Learning Centers and the activities they offer may be funded with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education using Federal funding, CFDA 84.287, Every Student Succeeds Act, Title IV B – 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Brian Faloon

Brian Faloon

21st CCLC Grant Program Coordinator

507.328.4065 | Email

Amy Eich

Amy Eich

Executive Director of Community Education

507.328.4003 | Email

Latest News

Lights on After School

For 23 years, Lights On Afterschool has put a spotlight on the important role afterschool has played in our communities.  Now, that role has never been more important, especially for our students & families most in need as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. When schools were forced to close in March 2020, afterschool programs across the country immediately jumped in to make sure families who relied on afterschool meals, childcare, academic support, enrichments, and much more were taken care of. 

Dakota Middle School held a successful Lights on Afterschool event on Monday, October 17, 2022 to highlight the activities and programs that are available to students afterschool. As our newest middle school and 21st Century Community Learning Center, Dakota has enrollment from the former Friedell MS and other middle schools as the result of boundary changes. This Lights On Afterschool event was a fun way to make students and parents feel welcome and share in the new environment that Dakota is creating.

The programs and activities highlighted were: K-Pop Dance, LEGO Robotics, Fencing, Soccer and Gaming.  The activities promote healthy lifestyles, STEM and student leadership and are led by knowledgeable and dedicated staff and volunteers. 

Thanks go to everyone who helped organize the event and in particular to Kyle Gilbertson and Shamila Amarasekera for their LEGO robotics challenges and support, Albert Lee for teaching fencing, dungeon master Brendan Bogues for Dungeons and Dragons, Jeanine Engelking and Heather Duellman for K-Pop and Gavin Jones for soccer.

Poetry Out Loud

Here it is!! Our first episode in a series of podcasts with one of our Poetry Out Loud program participants, Amina Hassan. Listen on Spotify.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition where participants select a number of poems from a prescribed list, and then perform them. From local level competition, participants can go on to regional, state and even national competition stages. Learn more about Poetry out Loud.

We ran a Poetry Out Loud program through Cohort 8 of the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant and based it in our Century HS CLC.  Participants met in-person, and virtually when necessary, to learn and present their chosen poems. They were guided by two volunteer Rochester Public School District staff, Lisa Higgs and Amanda Ruggeri. The local heat of the competition was held at the Rochester Civic Theatre with three independent judges scoring the performances.

The podcast idea came as a result of not being able to send the participants, all girls, on a “tour” of some of our elementary and middle schools, to promote poetry and Poetry Out Loud! So, we decided on a podcast! Lida Casper, Community Schools Site Facilitator at Riverside Elementary school, which is also a 21st Century Community Learning Center, was already creating podcasts and offered her expertise and support.

Amina’s story is the first of these podcasts with more in production. The podcast series is available on Spotify under the title, The Invisible Backpack.

Student Projects

Green Thumb Initiative at the Rochester ALC

The Green Thumb Initiative garden program at the Rochester ALC was designed with experiential learners in mind. Liz Quackenbush and Katie Sloan created this program because they knew that the best way to prepare ALC students to meet academic standards was through participating in hands-on experiences that parallel the concepts they learn in the classroom.  To provide these experiences, students built an urban vegetable farm out of a barren lot. As the program evolved, students learned about lack of food access in communities with a high rate of poverty, and who have a high population of people of color.  The students were compelled to end food apartheid in Rochester, and through a partnership with the Rochester Public Library, now The Green Thumb Initiative is growing organic produce and then giving it away in areas of our community that are experiencing food drought.  

Liz Quackenbush died unexpectedly in March of 2021. To honor her memory and contribution to our community, the growing season is dedicated to her.  The Rochester Public Library has created wildflower seeds in her memory to spread her message of activism and hope throughout our world. She believed that each seed planted represented a promise, and each growing season was a fresh start to begin anew. This belief was shared with ALC students who experienced academic failure, and through this garden, students grew more than vegetables and credits toward graduation. They grew confidence and hope for a better future.