SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Some 750 Springfield school children are heading for a free summer camp experience thanks to a $3 million grant from the state.

Mayor Domenic Sarno and Springfield Superintendent Daniel Warwick announced the two-year, $3 million grant Tuesday afternoon. It will benefit the Springfield empowerment zone for summer and afterschool community-based programs.

“What we’ve learned from families, children growing up in Springfield, Longmeadow, they want their children to have as many opportunities as they can possibly have, expanded opportunities, and we know that through summer camps, children as able to grow and bloom,” said Co-Executive Director Matthew Brunell of the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership.

Mayor Sarno, who was once the Executive Director of the old South End Community Center, voiced his support for the enrichment goals of the $3 million grant which not only provides the summer camping experience but after school activities as well.

Mayor Sarno states, “One of the most powerful strengths of the City of Springfield is our unwavering belief that ‘It takes a village.’ We know that our students and families have tremendous strengths, and simply need opportunities to let those strengths shine. I am proud of SEZP and our community partners for being part of the village that supports our Springfield families and children.”

Many of the educational and recreational advantages for Pioneer Valley school children had been thrown off track by the pandemic these past two years. The $3 million makes it possible to recoup those losses and return the programs that have been so beneficial to the children.

“SEZP believes that all students should have access to enriching opportunities in their time outside of school,” stated Matt Brunell and Colleen Curran, Co-Executive Directors of SEZP. “In this so-called ‘fifth quarter of learning,’ students emerge with more wonder about the world around them, more connections to caring adults and supportive peers, and more engagement with their broader community. We could not be more excited about the promise of this grant.”