The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica has received a $7,500 grant from JCPenney that club officials say will help more local students participate in the club’s afterschool program.

The access grant from JCPenney Afterschool is part of a larger $5 million grant benefiting the YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National 4-H and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). JCPenney officials say that through these organizations, the company is able to assist families with children who are currently not enrolled in afterschool services or are on the verge of withdrawing due to financial hardship.

“The support of our customers, associates and suppliers makes it possible for JCPenney Afterschool to provide our local youth with these opportunities,” said Matt Taylor, manager of JCPenney at Fox Hills Mall in Culver City. “Participating in an afterschool program does far more than keep kids safe. It engages them in a positive learning environment that helps them reach their full potential in life.”

According to the America After 3PM report released by the Afterschool Alliance in conjunction with JCPenney Afterschool, one out of every four children in America is on his/her own between 3 and 6 p.m. each school day. The report shows that a vast majority of parents seek the resources to engage their children with adult role models who can help foster their social, physical and academic development.

JCPenney’s continuing support of the afterschool cause is helping to build the national afterschool infrastructure so that program participation can be possible in every JCPenney community, company officials said.

JCPenney officials note the company has been a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Club’s Family Assistance Program. This year the club was able to help 65 families by treating them to shopping sprees at JCPenney stores for new clothing.