STERLING – The City Council agreed to provide $58,250 in ARPA funds for programs and projects: for Sauk’s Impact Program, to install historic plaques and informational kiosks in the downtown, and to fight truancy.
The earned-tuition Impact Program is a workforce training program that gives eligible students, who graduate within the Sauk Valley Community College district, the chance to earn tuition and fees for up to three years or until they earn their certificate or degree, whichever comes first.
The city will give Sauk $25,000 to continue those efforts, from which it already has benefited.
Data from communities with an earned tuition program show an increase in wages, economic mobility, population and business retention and attraction, Sauk said in a news release Thursday.
So far, more than 140 Sterling students have volunteered more than 3,200 hours in Sterling, working for the city and for its nonprofit organizations, according to the release.
“With this contribution, we will enhance our community by providing volunteer opportunities and fostering a sense of belonging,” Mayor Diana Merdian said in the release. “These efforts will have an immediate positive impact on our community.”
At its July 17 meeting, the council also agreed to give $12,250 for two informational kiosks.
They tentatively are planned for the Farmers Market and Shoppes at Grandon areas, and will be built by Whiteside Area Career Center students.
In addition, $11,000 will be used for historical signs in the downtown. The bronze plaques, in the works for several years, will be installed on “on select downtown buildings to commemorate their significance and enhance pride in the history of the structures,” city staff said in the agenda presentation.
Finally, the Whiteside County Healthier Communities Partnership is getting $10,000 for its Sterling Truancy Program.
Nicole Oberg, the Sterling truancy caseworker, has said the truancy caseload for the 2022-23 school year was 130 students from about 115 families, and she estimated she also worked unofficially with 130 siblings she.
The Sterling Truancy Program originally was funded by a $30,000 grant from the Sterling City Council.
About $1,067,400 of the original $2 million remains in the city’s American Rescue Plan Act fund. The remainder must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.