The director of Havre’s afterschool activity program is taking on a national role: The Afterschool Alliance announced Wednesday that it has selected Tim Brurud, the director of Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, as a 2011-12 Afterschool Ambassador.
Brurud said he is honored at the appointment, but it won’t change what he is doing by much,
“A lot of it is stuff we are already doing, ” he said, including showing that after-school programs can make a difference for children, and that people can make a difference by supporting those programs.
“Quality after-school programs are invaluable to students, families and communities, ” Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant said in the press release announcing Brurud’s selection. “These programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire students to learn. But in Washington, D.C., and all across the country, the after-school programs that families rely on are being threatened by budget cuts and efforts to divert after-school funds to other programs. We need to spread the word about the urgent need to make opportunities to attend afterschool programs available to all children who need them.
“Tim will bring great skill and energy to that work in his role as an Afterschool Ambassador, ” Grant added. “I look forward to working with him to build even stronger support for after-school programs among parents, business and community leaders, lawmakers and others. ”
Burud is one of 20 people involved in after-school programs from 17 states selected to be Afterschool Ambassadors this year.
Montana provided two of the 20. Kaide Dodson, after-school coordinator and enrichment coordinator at Libby High School, also is an ambassador this year.
Brurud said he will continue much of the work he has done since he started work as the Boys & Girl Club director in 2002 — the day it opened.
“That was my first day of work, July 1, 2002, ” he said. “I have been here since Day 1. ”
Since then, part of his job has been in increasing awareness of the programs at the club, and trying to raise support locally and in the Montana Legislature and U. S. Congress.
That includes participating in the national day of awareness for after-school programs, Lights On Afterschool, celebrated this year on Oct. 27. Brurud said the Havre club held Lights On Afterschool last year, and will again this year.
A large part of that day is inviting leaders and decision makers to come to the club to see what it offers, Brurud said. He added that the support, from local leaders and the state legislators, already is high.
“We’re very lucky here in Havre, ” he said. “We have great support for the Boys and Girls Club. ”
He said he has previously travelled to Washington to talk about the after-school programs with the members of Montana’s congressional delegation and their staff members, and will be doing that again this year.
Support on the federal level is crucial, he said. Much of the Boys & Girls Club funding comes through the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program, and it is a battle to keep that funding flowing.
“If they cut those moneys, it trickles down to us, ” he said.
Brurud said members of Congress often look at cutting funding to that program, or to diverting it to other programs such as longer after-school programs at schools, which he said are not as efficient or effective as programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs.
He also works on trying to get support on the state level. Brurud said the state did start a small funding program two sessions ago, but in the last Legislature that was not renewed.
“We continue to work on that, ” he said.
Brurud kind of fell into his position. After graduating from Montana State University-Northern, he spent five years teaching high school science, at Geyser and Stanford, then was planning to come back to get his master’s degree when he found out about the position at the club.
“I just decided this would be a lot more fun, ” he said.
Use of the club in Havre quickly exploded, and Brurud soon had to put a cap on the number of memberships.
Programs continue to expand, including its special summer membership. Brurud said, in the past, the club typically served fewer than a hundred children a day over the summer.
This year, in the first couple of weeks of summer, the club was seeing 150-160 children a day, with that number helped by the North Central Montana Transit running buses for the program and increased awareness of the summer hours, as well as offering a lunch program, Brurud said.
“It was the busiest summer we’ve ever seen …, ” he said. “It’s been really great to see that program grow. ”
Brurud said he looks forward to his responsibilities as an Afterschool Ambassador.
“I am delighted to have this chance to help increase support for after-school programs, which give students opportunities to explore their interests and give parents the security that comes with knowing that their children are safe and supervised, with engaging, educational activities after the school day ends, ” he said. “After-school programs are critical to students’ success in school, to families trying to survive in this recession, and to America’s workforce in the future.
“We need to strengthen the after-school programs we have and ensure that there is a program for every child who needs one, ” he added.