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SANTA ANA : Funds Shift to Aid Youth Programs

Youth programs that provide scholarships and anti-gang recreational activities will be benefited by a shifting of $450,000 of city funds and community block grants.

The City Council last week unanimously approved new funding of $300,000 for the Santa Ana 2000 community college scholarship program and $150,000 for the anti-gang program Project PRIDE.

“We feel it’s money well spent,” City Manager David N. Ream told the council before the vote.

The shift of funds was in response to meetings with community groups such as the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, whose members have called recently for more youth-related education, recreation and employment activities, Ream said.

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About $401,000 in city funds became available recently after negotiations with health care providers for city employees and because of unanticipated payment credits from the state’s public retirement system, city officials said.

The rest of the new funding for the youth programs came from community block grants that the council shifted from the Santa Ana Unified School District’s Head Start preschool project and the Santa Ana Fire Prevention Bureau.

The council reallocated the money because the two programs would not have been able to spend the money within the next year, said Lorraine Lazarine, council services manager.

The $300,000 allocated to Santa Ana 2000 matches the amount the city paid into that scholarship program last year.

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Interest earned on the money will be used to fund scholarships for local high school students to attend Rancho Santiago College, Lazarine said.

“The philosophy is that we are the ‘Education First’ city,” she added. “It’s very important to the people of Santa Ana. It’s in everyone’s best interests if kids stay in school, graduate from high school and continue with their education.”

New funding for Project PRIDE will be used to expand hours of after-school and recreational programs and to increase the number of sites at which they are offered. PRIDE stands for “Parks and Recreation Inspire Dignity and Esteem.”

The council also hired a parent and volunteer coordinator for the PRIDE program at a cost of $29,000.

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