The Summer Opportunity Project is a multi-agency effort launched on Feb. 25 by the Obama Administration in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and other collaborators to provide support to communities. The effort hopes to significantly increase the percentage of young people in evidence-based summer opportunity programs, decrease the percentage of youth experiencing violence over the summer, and—more broadly—make sure that young Americans have the support they need to get their first job. To meet this challenge, state and local leaders, community-based organizations, private sector leaders, philanthropic leaders, schools and other youth-serving agencies are uniting to create a set of supports that enable strong transitions between school years and from high school to college, which include quality summer learning programs, access to healthy summer meals and summer jobs.
The Summer Opportunity Project was launched last Friday at a White House event that honored Champions of Change in summer programs, including OregonASK executive director Beth Unverzagt.
Afterschool and summer learning programs and advocates can connect to the effort by accessing the Summer Opportunity Federal Resource Guide. The White House and NSLA released this new guide to help local governments and nonprofits identify, navigate, and use federal programs to support summer programming. This is part of a broad effort to improve how the federal government partners with local communities, recognizing the multifaceted nature of challenges at the local level and the opportunity to connect local projects with federal funding and technical assistance.
The guide offers:
- Descriptions of applicable federal, state, and local funding streams
- Examples of how to use local partnerships and private funding to leverage public resources
- Spotlighted strategies and examples of funding in action
- Case studies of how high quality district and community-based summer learning programs obtained funds
Last month, the President proposed a decrease in funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—even though demand continues to increase for local afterschool programs. Efforts are now under way to make the case for funding 21st CCLC at $1.3 billion, an increase that would extend opportunities to an additional 140,000 children who are currently waiting for access. The increased funding is necessary to help meet the growing demand for quality afterschool and summer learning programs and also to help address rising labor costs associated with operating quality programs. Individual advocates can reach out to their members of Congress through the Afterschool Alliance website in support of 21st CCLC, while representatives of national, state and local organizations are encouraged to sign on to our letter of support for 21st CCLC.
Last week, Congress returned from a week-long recess with a host of education-related activity, including four education hearings in the House and Senate—three of which featured Acting Secretary of Education John B. King. Over the course of these hearings, King emphasized his plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as Congress intended, touted his support for afterschool programs, and spoke in support of the President’s FY 2017 spending plan for programs at the Department of Education.
On the spending and appropriations side, uncertainty continues to surround the House Budget Resolution process; however, Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) did announce plans to try to get a spending resolution approved in the coming weeks. At the same time, Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate have begun holding hearings with Administration officials on different parts of the FY 2017 budget, and Senators and Representatives are making their spending priorities known.
Take action now: let your representatives know that you support 21st CCLC as a means to keep kids learning, safe, and engaged in the hours after school.
Today President Obama released the final budget request of his presidency, proposing a $4 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year, which begins this October. The president requested $1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) —a cut of $167 million that would be devastating to the 170,000 children and their families that stand to lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs under the proposal. Read Executive Director Jodi Grant's official response to the budget proposal.
The budget proposal has also been deemed “dead on arrival” by Congressional leadership.
The 21st CCLC initiative was reauthorized last December in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and saw funding increased by $15 million as part of the bipartisan 2016 fiscal year omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support, more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school, and the parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs—but programs are unavailable, unaffordable or both. Rather than cut this vital support for young people and their families, Congress should increase funding to $1.3 billion to help meet the growing demand for afterschool programs and help address rising labor costs associated with quality afterschool and summer learning programs.
With the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 unanimously passing the Senate Agriculture Committee last month, the process of reauthorizing the federal child nutrition programs is well under way. The bill, which is expected to head to the Senate floor sometime this spring, would impact the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals. At the same time President Obama recently announced a new Administration initiative calling for major investments in preventing child hunger.
The bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill, crafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), includes a number of provisions of interest to afterschool and summer learning providers, including:
Streamlining summer and afterschool meal coordination, which will allow afterschool meal sites to choose to operate year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. This will allow sponsors to operate one program rather than two, and significantly reduce duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules protecting the new school meal nutrition standards that are improving our children’s health and the school nutrition environment. The Afterschool Alliance had strongly recommended such a provision. The streamlining provision is phased in over time.
This morning, the Senate Agriculture Committee marks up the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, which would reauthorize the federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals.
The newly proposed bipartisan bill, crafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), includes a compromise on school lunch nutrition standards as well as changes to the way school lunch applications are verified. From an afterschool and summer learning perspective, the bill does the following:
With the passage late last year of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), many in the afterschool field have been asking about the impact of the new law on afterschool programs and the children served by programs providers. Join the Afterschool Alliance and a number of partner organizations for a webinar on January 20th when we seek to answer the question “what does ESSA mean for afterschool and summer learning program providers?”
This overview webinar seeks to break down what the new law says regarding funding and policy for afterschool and summer learning programs, whether through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, STEM afterschool provisions, full service community schools, or other programs. This introductory webinar will be the first in a series of five webinars to be held in the coming months that will go into depth on a variety of programs and topics in ESSA relevant to afterschool programs and providers. Bring your questions and join us on January 20, 2016, from 1PM ET – 2 PM ET. Register here.
UPDATE: Today the House and Senate passed the FY2016 omnibus spending bill that was unveiled earlier this week. With the bill having passed by bipartisan majority votes in both chambers, the President is expected to sign the measure into law shortly. The passage of the bill means the proposed increases to afterschool funding outlined below will go into effect. The Afterschool Alliance issued a statement on the spending bill today as well.
ORIGINAL POST (Dec. 16):
Last night House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House leaders unveiled a FY16 omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2016. There are several more steps before both houses of Congress send this budget to the President, but work is expected to be completed on the next ten days. A complementary tax extender bill was also unveiled early this morning and the two bills will be linked as they make their way through Congress.
The trillion-dollar government spending bill was made possible by the increased spending caps negotiated as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The omnibus includes funding increases for education, health and human services, child care, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and other key programs that directly contribute to the high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs millions of young people rely on.
The Department of Education was funded at $71.7 billion, an increase of $1.171 billion compared to FY15. Funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $15 million for FY16, bringing the total to a record $1.167 billion, up from $1.152 billion in FY15.
With the new Every Student Succeeds Act set to be signed into law tomorrow (Thursday) securing the authorization of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program for the next four years, attention now turns to completing the FY2016 budget. Funding for all federal programs, including 21st CCLC, Child Care and Development Block Grants, and AmeriCorps, are operating under a continuing resolution (CR) for FY2016 that is set to expire this Friday, December 11th.
House and Senate negotiators continue to struggle to find a compromise for the omnibus spending bill that can be signed by the White House due to a variety of policy riders Members are trying to include in the final spending package. Several scenarios have emerged:
- Congress can pass a short-term CR through next week giving negotiators time to resolve differences over policy riders, followed by passage of a final omnibus FY2016 spending bill;
- Congress can pass a long-term CR through next spring or late winter for at least some federal agencies including the Department of Education; or.
- Congress can pass a final CR through next fall locking in FY2015 spending levels.
One good piece of news is that all parties in the negotiations process have made it clear they do not want the government to shutdown.
Friends of afterschool are encouraged to thank their Member of Congress for supporting 21st CCLC in the ESEA reauthorization bill and also call on Congress to pass an omnibus spending measure that funds 21st CCLC and other funding streams that support afterschool at least at current funding levels. You can learn more and take action here.