State Sens. John Yudichak and David Argall and a host of educators announced Wednesday that $400,000 in state funds for the Carbon and Schuylkill SHINE Afterschool program were secured for the upcoming school year.

The student-focused and data-driven SHINE program, run through Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), was designed to help all students who were having academic or social issues in the classroom environment.

"There are few programs in Northeastern Pennsylvania and across the state for that matter that are more important to the intellectual growth of our children than the SHINE program," Yudichak said. "Ensuring that this funding was included in the budget was a priority of ours and I'm thrilled that we were able to come through for these children."

"I'm pleased to see the bipartisan effort to secure funds for this important program that helps our region's children," Argall added. "The SHINE program provides our future generations with an opportunity for growth and opportunity to succeed both inside and outside the classroom."

The SHINE program was originally championed by the late state Sen. James Rhoades, who passed away in 2008. The program now serves as a lasting legacy to Rhoades.

"I am thrilled to hear the SHINE program will continue to support our students. My husband was very passionate about the value of the SHINE program, so knowing there is a commitment by the legislature to carry this program forward makes me very happy," said Mary Edith Rhoades, wife of the late senator. "I know Jim Rhoades is smiling down on us today and I send my gratitude to Sen. Yudichak and Sen. Argall for their commitment to the SHINE program."

Since its inception in 2003, SHINE has more than tripled the number of children served and encompasses seven public schools, one technical school and five parochial schools and covers over 700 square miles between Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

"We would like to thank Sen. Yudichak and Sen. Argall for their strong support of LCCC SHINE, a proven afterschool program that increases educational attainment, exposes students to careers of the future, and keeps kids safe," added Jeanne Miller, director of Carbon and Schuylkill County Educational Services for LCCC and one of the driving forces behind the SHINE program. "Their support demonstrates the commitment to the children of Carbon and Schuylkill counties, our future workforce, and continues the legacy of the late Sen. James Rhoades, a champion of the SHINE Program."

The importance and impact of the SHINE program has been especially significant at Jim Thorpe Area School District.

"The SHINE after school program has literally been a beacon of hope for children in districts throughout Carbon and Schuylkill counties," Dr. Barbara Conway, Jim Thorpe Area superintendent, said. "Designed to promote not only increased academic skills but also to foster independence, self-reliance and pride in our students who attend the program, SHINE has provided a safe, secure and nurturing environment for over 400 children throughout the two county area and we at Jim Thorpe are proud to be able to be a part of it."

"This funding was in jeopardy but, thanks to the untiring efforts of senators Yudichak and Argall, monies to continue this worthwhile program were appropriated," Clem McGinley, Jim Thorpe Area School District Board of Directors president, said. "Since its inception the SHINE Afterschool program has had a positive impact, educationally and socially, on young students and their families in the Carbon-Schuylkill Area. This positive influence will continue far into the future and its loss would have left many students and families without the academic and social guidance, which they so desperately need."