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A fumble that could hurt kids
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It was an honest fumble.

And Carol Davis is worried it may cost hundreds of struggling students the financial support Give Every Child a Chance needs to make sure they can access free one-on-one tutoring and mentoring services.

Congressman Jeff Denham has worked with the community-based non-profit in a bid to secure a multi-million federal grant to expand the successful GECAC formula into other communities. He was unsuccessful this past year due to federal rules and the GECAC guidelines not meshing.

A press release from Washington, D.C., made note of that but inadvertently it inferred funding was being secured. That’s not the case although the congressman is working toward that goal.

That’s why the fumble could be a game changer for some youth and it wouldn’t be for the better

Since stories about the grant appeared, some have questioned why GECAC needs to raise funds through such events as the upcoming casino night on Sept. 27. Callers can’t believe GECAC is raising money when they “have plenty of it.” That isn’t the case.

Federal funds do help support the After School Advantage Program that involves the bulk of the organization’s 5,000 plus students throughout the South County including Escalon and Banta. But the core program — one-on-one tutoring that makes the biggest difference to prevent struggling kids from failing — is heavily dependent on fundraisers to cover costs.

Davis is worried that kids will be hurt because of the fumble.

And while she is grateful to have a congressman actively working on behalf of kids in the nation’s capitol she wants to make sure people understand they do not have the grant funding they are hoping to eventually secure.

In 2012, GECAC requested Denham’s office write a letter of support to be submitted with a grant that would allow them to expand their free mentor/tutoring programs to other communities in Central and Northern California. The requirements for that specific grant did not match the guidelines GECAC follows in their programs, and they were unable to apply for those funds. 

Programs like the free mentor/tutoring program GECAC offers cannot depend exclusively on grant funding. Community support is equally important to the success of their programs. It costs approximately $500 per student annually to provide the free mentor/tutoring programs. Fundraising efforts, generous donations and community support continue to be the backbone of their success. 

GECAC continues to expand the programs they offer to the children in our community. In 1998, when they opened their first free mentor/tutoring program, they had three sites and 13 students. Today GECAC provides free programs to close to 5,000 students annually, at 49 sites. All of the sites are located on school campuses or within walking distance from feeder schools to assure those students, whose parents work and are unable to provide their students transportation, can safely attend. 

There is a chance as guidelines change for applicants, GECAC may qualify to compete for expansion grants in upcoming years, but Davis emphasized “the generosity of our local communities will always be the cornerstone of GECAC’s operational success.”

And just how successful is GECAC? Audits of student grades and test scores shows nearly 80 percent improve a grade level or so in comprehension.

It’s why the best investment of $30 you might make is for the GECAC’s 14th Casino Night & Auction on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the MRPS Hall, 133 N. Grant St., Manteca. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and gaming begins at 7 p.m. This evening of fun includes a raffle, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, live auction, Mystery Boxes, Black Jack, Roulette, and Craps. In addition there will be a Texas Hold ‘em Tournament (for an additional fee) with prizes for the top three players. Casino Night tickets are $30 when you buy them in advance at Give Every Child a Chance, Manteca Chamber of Commerce, Manteca CVB, Oak Valley Community Bank, and Golden Valley Federal Credit Union. It is an additional $50 for Texas Hold ‘em Tournament. Contact Stephanie Hilson at 209.823.6222 or email at for more information.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email