20 years of advocating for afterschool


20 years of advocating for afterschool

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that many, many people - including afterschool providers - are facing unprecedented challenges and questions about how to navigate this moment, while at the same time continuing to serve our communities to the best of their abilities and care for their staff. As such, we are fully committed to working with the afterschool field to respond and elevate those concerns with Congress and our representatives.

The Afterschool Alliance was founded 20 years ago with the mission to ensure that all youth have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs. Through our organization’s commitment to educating policymakers at the local, state, and federal level about the value of afterschool and summer learning opportunities, we have come a long way towards that goal.

Since 2000, federal investment in afterschool and summer learning programs has nearly tripled thanks to our many champions on the Hill. The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, which provides afterschool and summer learning opportunities to low-income children in all 50 states, has grown from just over $450 million in 2000 to $1.25 billion in the most recent budget passed by Congress. Serving approximately 400,000 kids in 2000, today, more than 1.7 million students and families have access to 21stCCLC programs.

To further ensure universal access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities, here are some of the initiatives the Afterschool Alliance has also advocated for the expansion of:

  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – In 2015, ESSA became the education “law of the land,” providing guidance to how states can employ federal dollars in K-12 education. ESSA’s focus on whole-child supports, accountability, data reporting, and engagement with community stakeholders offers tremendous opportunity for states to partner with afterschool and summer learning providers to ensure they prepare students for 21st century jobs.
  • Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – Approximately 611,000 school-age children participating in before-school, afterschool, and summer learning programs receive financial support from CCDBG. Thanks to the efforts of the Afterschool Alliance and other youth-serving organizations, in FY20 CCDBG received $5.826 billion, an increase of $550 million over the previous year. In addition to advocating for additional funding, the Afterschool Alliance has been committed to ensuring this critical funding stream goes to those most in need and the providers who can best meet their needs.
  • Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins CTE) Act – Enacted in 2006, the Perkins CTE law is the principle source of federal funding to states to improve secondary and postsecondary career and technical education. While not explicitly written into the bill, The Afterschool Alliance has worked with federal and state agencies to provide guidance for how afterschool programs can be an excellent partner and resource to provide robust, hands-on CTE opportunities.
  • Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) – Afterschool and summer learning programs are key partners in raising the next generation of healthy adults. In addition to providing opportunities to engage in structured physical activity, through CACFP, afterschool programs are also able to provide nutritious snacks and meals to students to more than 1.3 million students nationwide. By streamlining access to afterschool meal and summer feeding programs, we can ensure that all children have access to healthy meals 365 days a year.

In addition to these major initiatives, the Afterschool Alliance has also advocated for the expansion of OST STEM opportunities, SEL, and use of funds from the Higher Education Act (HEA) to support afterschool staffing, among other things.

Today, the afterschool field faces new, unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, afterschool programs are facing existential questions about how they can continue to serve their communities, retain their staff, and more. First and foremost, we are committed to helping providers, staff, and communities navigate this moment and ensure our leaders are including afterschool programs in their relief packages.

Moving forward, this moment also reminds us just how important afterschool and summer learning programs are to our communities all year-round. As such, we will continue to advocate for expanding federal invest and opportunities in these critical programs.