Leaders of downtown Enid’s martial arts school say they’re expecting a kick and a jump in size for this year’s returning after-school program after recent additions to the school’s transportation fleet.

Staff from Enid Family Martial Arts will be able to take students from twice as many elementary schools to the studio, located at 211 E. Broadway, owner Alex Evers said.

Now, students from 10 Enid area elementary schools are eligible for the after-school program, which again begins next Thursday: Chisholm, Coolidge, Garfield, Glenwood, Hayes, Hoover, Monroe, Pleasant Vale, Prairie View and Taft.

Middle school students also can participate in the program — Family Martial Arts doesn’t pick up at middle school sites, but students can be dropped off at an elementary school.

This past year, the school bought two vans, partly with a $10,000 grant from Enid Regional Development Alliance, the area’s local business aid nonprofit.

With ERDA’s reimbursable micro-enterprise grant funding provided earlier this year, the school was able to partially fund buying a Ford E-350 van and car seats before adding a second van.

The school now owns three 14-seat vans and an 11-seat van, head instructor Justin Deal said.

Evers said adding the two cars essentially can double the number of students they can pick up for the program during the school year.

Running from when school ends at 3 p.m. until pickup at 5:30, the program includes sports activities, snack time, assisted homework time and martial arts classes at the school.

“We say we’re trying not to ‘warehouse’ the kids,” Evers said — meaning dropping them off and watching them for several hours.

“So we’re just able to reach more kids that wouldn’t have gotten that before.”

Deal said he believed the program already had a “decent-sized signup,” adding he thinks the high enrollment is a good sign for the rest of the school.

Earlier this year, the martial arts building received a facelift after receiving a grant from Main Street Enid to renovate its facade.

“Seeing the martial arts studio as a whole starting to expand … has been a really great experience for me,” he said.

To enroll in Enid Family Martial Arts’ after-school program, call (580) 297-5033 or go to www.enidafterschool.com.

This year, ERDA also provided a micro-enterprise grant of the same amount to Lenox Drive-In, a restaurant that redid its parking lot at 1110 N. Grand — $5,000 were funds from the city’s Community Development Block Grant program that were matched from ERDA.

For the second year of the program, the grants have been provided to small businesses in the 73701 ZIP code, where more qualified U.S. Census tracts are located, ERDA Executive Director Lisa Powell said.

The only requirement is using the funds for business expenses, Powell said, with a focus on expansion to provide additional jobs in the community.

“Those grants, I think, have been amazing for these small businesses that give them some of that capital to just expand their businesses in any way they need to, without any strings attached or payback requirements,” she said.

Applications will be available this November to award another pair of $10,000 micro-enterprise grants, again with ERDA funds and ERDA matches, Powell said.

Article by: Alexander Ewald – Enid News and Eagle 8.14.21

Story photos by Alexander Ewald and Billy Hefton