Battle for Federal Afterschool Funding Heats Up
Lights On Afterschool 2011
Severe Budget Cuts for NJ Afterschool Programs
Battle for Federal Afterschool Funding Heats Up
As the temperature rose to triple digits in Washington this summer, it's proven to be equally hot on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are considering several pieces of legislation that could help determine the future of 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) - the chief federal funding stream for before school, afterschool and summer learning programs.
New Bi-Partisan Legislation Supports 21st CCLC
At a time when Congress is deeply divided along party lines, longtime champions of afterschool from both political parties worked together to introduce the Afterschool for America's Children Act (S. 1370). This bipartisan bill would strengthen 21st Century Community Learning Centers by supporting innovation in before school, afterschool and summer learning programs.
Widely applauded by the afterschool community, the bill was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA); they were quickly joined by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Begich (D-AK) as co-sponsors.
"This bipartisan legislation is the right approach to make today's afterschool programs even stronger, using lessons learned over the last decade to create the next generation of afterschool and summer learning programs. This bill is designed to help make quality afterschool programs available to more of the children and families that need them," Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant said. "Throughout their careers, these lawmakers have been extraordinary champions for students, working families and communities. Quality afterschool programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn and support working families, and we need to make it a high priority to ensure that every student has a safe place to go with enriching, educational activities after the school day ends."
At a time when afterschool programs are facing huge financial challenges, the Afterschool for America's Children Act makes a commitment to federal afterschool funding, which can be used to leverage state, local, private and philanthropic support. The legislation would:
* Strengthen school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
* Promote professional development and training for afterschool program staff.
* Encourage innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering and math; and - for the first time - physical activity and nutrition education. It supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
* Provide accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time toward meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement. * Ensure that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
* Increase quality and accountability through parent engagement, better alignment with state learning objectives and coordination between federal, state and local agencies.
* Maintain formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.
The bill recognizes the significant unmet need for afterschool programs by ensuring that local communities can make a choice about what afterschool programs best meet the needs of its children and families.
To date, more than 120 local, state and national organizations have indicated their support for the Afterschool for America's Children Act, including the: Afterschool Alliance; 9 to 5, the National Association of Working Women; American Heart Association; America's Promise Alliance; Association of Science-Technology Centers; Coalition for Science After School; National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National PTA; School Social Work Association of America; United States Tennis Association; and the YMCA of the USA.
Another Bill Would Divert Afterschool Funding
The bipartisan legislation could not have been more timely. It followed by just a few weeks the June 30 introduction of a bill - sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) - that would divert 21st CCLC funds to extended school day programs. The Improving Student Achievement and Engagement through Expanded Learning Time Act of 2011 (S. 1311) would give preference in local competitions to 21st CCLC applications that propose to implement extended learning time programs.
The Sanders bill would divert badly-needed money from already-strapped afterschool and summer learning programs. Not only would it expand the allowable uses of these funds, but it would prioritize their use to lengthen the school day, Grant said. Extended day programs are much more expensive to run than afterschool programs. For every school that lengthens its day under this legislation, it is estimated that six afterschool programs would have to close their doors.
In tight budgetary times, Grant warned, this would mean replacing cost-efficient, proven afterschool programs with a more expensive, largely untested model that extends the emphasis on grades and test scores. The result will be fewer children engaged in interactive learning, and more children unsupervised in the afternoons, she added.
Already more than 15 million school-age children - more than one in four kids in the United States - are unsupervised after the school day ends. "At times like these, when budgets are so tight, we need to use precious federal funding to leverage relationships between community- and faith-based organizations and our schools to provide engaging quality afterschool programs to as many students and families as possible," Grant said.
Both these bills become part of the congressional dialogue around reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), formerly called No Child Left Behind. ESEA will set policy goals and funding levels for education spending for the next several years. At present, the timeline for that legislation is uncertain.
To keep informed about the status of legislation relating to afterschool programs, check the Afterschool Alliance's policy news section regularly.
Lights On Afterschool 2011
The 12th annual Lights On Afterschool will be October 20 this year. A million people in more than 7,500 communities throughout the country and at United States military bases worldwide are expected to help celebrate the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. The event will kick off on October 2 in Washington, D.C. at the CapCrit, the bike racing championship on the National Mall.
Last year, the Empire State Building, Mt. Rushmore and LA's Lindbergh Beacon were all lit up in honor of Lights On Afterschool. This year, you can win up to $5,000 in the Light Up a Landmark for Lights On Afterschool Contest. What are you planning to shine a spotlight on afterschool in your community? Eleven sites will be selected nationwide to receive awards from longtime afterschool champion jcpenney: One $5,000 Megawatt award and ten $1,000 Spotlight awards.
Severe Budget Cuts for NJ Afterschool Programs
Afterschool programs in New Jersey and the families they support have been reeling since Governor Chris Christie used a line item veto to eliminate funding for New Jersey After 3, a statewide nonprofit afterschool program that supports thousands of children each school day.
In a news release, NJ After 3 explained the dire effects of the June 30 veto, noting "the workforce in these communities will be hit hard. More than 500 afterschool educators will lose their jobs, and thousands of working parents will no longer have affordable afterschool options for their children. Finally, through the elimination of public support, millions of dollars in private investments in afterschool programs will be jeopardized, with trickle-down effects impacting public school and community nonprofit partners that are already facing precarious economic times."
Supportive state lawmakers introduced a resolution, SCR-226, sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Jim Whelan, that would have overridden the Governor's line-item veto of funding.
"Ending After 3 makes no sense, is irresponsible and cruel," Senator Lesniak said.
"The empirical data shows that NJ After 3 gets results," added Senator Whelan. "Whether it's better educational outcomes or simply a safe haven for students from a life of crime, the program simply works. We need to recognize that when we're talking about cutting NJ After 3, what we're really talking about is leaving kids unsupervised and without the support structures needed to thrive, both academically and socially."
The resolution failed to pass on a partisan vote; it received no support from Republicans, who instead supported their Governor, who has prioritized cuts to state spending.
Change.org is sponsoring a petition to support NJ After 3 funding in next year's state budget.
Strengthening Support for 21st CCLC
The deal to avert a government default will bring severe cuts to the federal budget, putting countless valuable programs on the chopping block as Congress develops a Fiscal Year 2012 budget. This makes it more important than ever that afterschool supporters speak out and tell lawmakers how important 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) are to children and families in their communities.
Through emails, Facebook messages, cards and letters from parents and students, media coverage, hosting officials who visit programs, and in other ways, this is the time to demonstrate the value of quality afterschool programs.
A simple way to support 21st CCLC is to send an email through the Afterschool Alliance's website to Senators and Representatives, urging them to co-sponsor the Afterschool for America's Children Act (S. 1370). This bipartisan bill reauthorizes the 21st CCLC initiative and supports the innovative advances occurring in before school, afterschool and summer learning programs, re-engaging children in their education and future. Afterschool advocates can also encourage community members to join them in urging legislators to support this bill.
To keep informed of further developments and updates, visit the Afterschool Alliance's Policy and Action Center.
The Afterschool Alliance's website has numerous resources for afterschool providers looking for new ways to raise money for their programs, including tips for initiating relationships with funders and businesses, and for identifying funding opportunities.
The funding and sustainability web pages offer a number of tools and information:
* Use the online tutorial to learn how to find new funding sources close to home, see tips on writing proposals and read publications that describe the process.
* A funding database is searchable by agency, locality or activity.
* Questions and Answers offer advice from funders.
* Success stories offer tips from other programs.
* The funding web pages also offer tips on attracting and sustaining sponsorship opportunities at afterschool events, and more.
To check it out, click here.
Voices from the Afterschool Storybook...
"As teachers, the best part of the Explorers Club is that it allots time to do interesting, creative science that goes beyond what is usually offered in the in-school curriculum. During the school day, we do not have the instruction time to do hands-on projects like discovering the bones of various creatures and putting them together, let alone have the resources to develop a hands-on, innovative curriculum on habitats and ecosystems. On the other hand, our afterschool curriculum allows us to facilitate so many more projects with our students."
-- Michael Lague and Matthew O'Donoghue, Rutland, Massachusetts
When she isn't on her latest movie set, Hollywood actress Elizabeth Banks can be found doing yoga or building model race cars with students in LA's BEST afterschool program. The August issue of InStyle magazine features a story on the actress' volunteer activities with the organization, which she has supported since 2003. "Everything is presented as fun. Whether it's a trip to a museum for the first time or a session where they learn about physics by building things, it's a great opportunity to expand their minds," Banks tells InStyle.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in Manatee County now have a youth center - open after school and on the weekends - tailored to their needs. The Prism Youth Initiative opened in December and is already working to become a registered charity, with extended hours and more staff. The center provides support for LGBT students as well as a home for displaced older youth who have been thrown out of their homes; it will eventually become a full-time afterschool program. An anonymous survey given to youth at the center revealed that 96 percent of the students had been bullied in school, and 50 percent were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, the Bradenton Herald reports.
Spanish-speaking students at Oregon Trail Elementary School in Twin Falls practiced English, reading and math for three weeks this summer thanks to the school district's migrant summer program. The more than 100 students, from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade celebrated the last day of the program at a workshop that parents attended to learn how to help their children continue to learn, the Times-News reports. Learn how afterschool programs can help English language learners here.
After a week of selling lemonade for cash or donations of school supplies, students in the College Hill Elementary School summer program have collected $3,100 and several boxes of supplies for victims of the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri in May. "The kids were really pleased, really excited," Karla Stenzel, director of the program, told the Wichita Eagle. "I figured they'd get tired after a day or two, but they were excited all week, begging to go out there and work some more." The fundraiser was the idea of seven-year-old student Mallory Floyd, whose family has friends in Joplin.
Students at Valders Middle School's summer school class performed an abbreviated version of the musical "Annie" for their peers and the community at the end of the summer school term, after having only three weeks to prepare. The group usually does a musical revue, but the students this year wanted to perform an actual musical. Students met for three hours a day, Monday through Thursday, to learn lines, songs and dances. Students at the Tech Lab summer school class helped with lighting, sound and props. "It's a lot of work... but I think the end result's going to be amazing," upcoming ninth-grader Alleia Tyson told the Herald Times Reporter before the performance.
Learning More About STEM
Research2Practice.info is a new website funded by the National Science Foundation offering free briefs of more than 200 peer-reviewed research studies on informal science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The website has compiled papers from more leading education journals into short synopses that can be browsed, searched and sorted. Users can sign up to receive updates when new briefs are published to the site. Visit Research2Practice.info for more information.
Afterschool & NASA's Final Shuttle Launch
The Afterschool Alliance's director of STEM Policy, Anita Krishnamurthi, joined hundreds of students at the July 8 launch of space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. They were invited by NASA's Office of Education to share the occasion, along with colleagues from other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) organizations.
"NASA inspires a lot of students in STEM fields," Krishnamurthi wrote on the Afterschool Snack blog, "and representing the Afterschool Alliance at such a momentous occasion was a wonderful recognition of the work we are doing to advance STEM education and the importance of exploring STEM during out of school time."
Krishnamurthi also commented on the end of the shuttle program, saying, "it will be difficult for us to create a new economy and new industries that will employ tomorrow's workers and give our children and youth reasons to study STEM topics if we retreat and stop doing the great things that make kids' eyes go big with wonder."
The Afterschool Alliance, along with the National AfterSchool Association and the National Summer Learning Association, are committed to STEM learning and have pledged to make 2011 the Year of Science in Afterschool. Learn more about afterschool and STEM here.
Save Your Pennies for Afterschool!
jcpenney is building on its back-to-school plans this year with its biggest campaign in support of afterschool to date. The "pennies from heaven challenge" asks jcpenney customers to round their in-store purchases up to the next dollar, from July 31 to August 27, with the difference donated to local afterschool programs.
All funds collected remain in the community where they were collected, directly benefiting a local afterschool program.
"Compelling national research reveals that one in four students in America is unsupervised between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day. This represents more than 15 million kids who could benefit from the academic and social development opportunities that afterschool programs provide," said Mike Theilmann, group executive vice president for J. C. Penney Company, Inc. and chairman of jcpenney afterschool. "With communities facing severe cuts in education and school resources, there's never been a more important time to raise awareness of the afterschool issue and get our customers involved in helping to narrow the education gap."
The campaign is incorporating a virtual component, by collecting "virtual pennies" online. These can be earned by getting involved in the campaign on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Pandora, and elsewhere. jcpenney will turn the "virtual collection" into real change, by matching the online donations with up to $1 million. Participants can send a "lucky penny" to friends on Facebook, download a "pennies from heaven" ringtone, check-in via Foursquare at a jcpenney store, and more.
For more information, click here.
Bring Digital Learning to Your Community
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are sponsoring an initiative to fund the planning and design of up to 30 "Learning Labs" in libraries and museums across the country. The Learning Labs will engage middle and high school youth during out-of-school time through digital learning. Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded to create the new media labs.
The initiative is part of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign to improve education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and make STEM education a national priority.
For more information about the grant, click here.
Get Your Fill of News at Afterschool Snack!
New this month on the Alliance's blog, hear from a youth entrepreneur, Daniel Kent, who is working to help expand digital literacy to youth; read about the final shuttle launch and afterschool; learn about the new bill in Congress in support of federal afterschool funding; and more!
New posts include:
* Guest Blogger Daniel Kent: Bright House Networks Supports Kids by Supporting Afterschool Programs
* A Look at the STEM Employment Picture
* K-12 STEM Education Policy Conference
* Bipartisan Afterschool for America's Children Act Introduced in the Senate
* The End of An Era: A Firsthand Account of NASA's Final Shuttle Launch
And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for a national news round-up, and throughout the week for your daily dose of afterschool. Check out Afterschool Snack here.
Mark Your Calendars...
* October 17 - 18, 2011
School's Out Washington will host The Bridge from School to Afterschool and Back Conference in Seattle. Participants at the ninth annual Bridge Conference will attend workshops and hear from speakers on topic such as youth voice and engagement; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); sustainability; and social/emotional learning. For more information, click here.
* October 20, 2011
The Afterschool Alliance will sponsor the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool, raising awareness about the benefits that afterschool programs offer to families and communities across the country. Lights On Afterschool is the only national rally for afterschool programs, and in recent years it has included some 7,500 events throughout the United States and at U.S. military bases worldwide. For more information, to plan an event or share your plans, and to sign up for free materials, click here.
* October 31 - November 4, 2011
The California Afterschool Network will host 2011 STEP UP High School and AMP UP Middle School conferences in San Diego, California. Both conferences convene statewide and national afterschool practitioners, including administrators, district managers/coordinators, site directors and frontline staff. STEP UP will be held October 31 to November 2, and AMP UP will be November 2 to November 4. For more information, click here.
* November 15 - 16, 2011
The National Summer Learning Association will host the Summer Changes Everything 2011 National Summer Learning Conference in San Francisco. Participants will attend workshops and hear from speakers on topics including policy, funding and innovative instructional approaches. A pre-conference session begins November 14. For more information, click here.
* December 7 - 9, 2011
The Best Out-of-School Time Collaborative will host the Healthy Behaviors Conference: Changing Lives, Saving Lives in San Diego. The conference for K - 12 out-of-school-time educators will explore strategies to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles for today's youth. Workshop topics will include physical activity, childhood obesity prevention, gardening, family advocacy, best practices and more. For further information, click here.
* February 15 - 18, 2012
Foundations, Inc. will hold its 15th annual Beyond School Hours conference in Burlingame, California. Thousands of afterschool advocates will gather for professional development, and will hear from Geoffrey Canada, author and president/CEO of Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, and other experts. For more information, click here.