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SEP
29
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Senate passes unanimous resolution in support of Lights On Afterschool 2016

By Robert Abare

Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in commemoration of the 17th annual celebration of Lights On Afterschool. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) praised the passage of the resolution, which recognizes the only national celebration of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, insipiring them to learn and helping working families.

"I am so pleased that the Senate recognizes the importance of high-quality afterschool programs,” said Senator Boxer. “These programs help keep our children safe, improve student performance and enrich our kids’ education with activities like music, art, sports and so much more.”

“Afterschool programs provide an enriching environment for students once the school day has ended,” said Senator Collins. “By engaging young people in academic and physical activities, these programs enhance students’ education and help promote healthy habits. In addition, afterschool programs provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and structured setting.”

This resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Al Franken (D-MN).

Senator Boxer authored legislation in 2001 that lead to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Last year, Senator Boxer’s Afterschool for America’s Children Act was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by President Obama last DecemberThis provision not only ensured a dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool, but will help to modernize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, improve states’ ability to effectively support quality afterschool programs, and ensure afterschool activities complement the academic curriculum.

Register for Lights On and you could win!

Next month, more than one million people are expected to attend more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events across the nation. It's not too late to start planning an event in your community! Register for Lights On Afterschool by October 6, and you'll be entered to win a prize pack from WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, which allows kids to author and publish their very own children's books!

NOV
11
2014

POLICY
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Lame duck ahead: FY15 spending decisions on the horizon

By Erik Peterson

After more than a month-long recess leading up to the mid-term elections, Members of Congress are back in the Nation’s capitol and will be in session starting on Wednesday, November 12th for a “Lame Duck” session that must finalize the FY 2015 appropriations spending bills to fund federal government operations for the period December 12, 2014, through September 30, 2015. The government is currently funded through a continuing resolution (CR) at FY 2014 levels.

The Bipartisan Budget Act that passed in December 2013 capped discretionary spending at $1.014 trillion in FY 2015 – essentially the mid-point between Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement restored $63 billion in sequestration cuts over two years, split evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending programs. Nondefense discretionary spending (which includes most federal support for afterschool and summer learning programs though the Department of Education and Health and Human Services) is capped at $492.4 billion in FY 2015, however that will change going into FY 2016 at which time nondefense discretionary spending faces a $43 billion (8 percent) cut, unless Congress acts to reverse sequestration.

NOV
7
2014

POLICY
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Midterm election 2014: the potential impact on federal support of afterschool programs

By Erik Peterson

After more than a year of anticipation, the 2014 midterm elections finally came and (mostly) went this week. With a few races still not officially decided, the headline is that the Republican Party will take over as the majority in the Senate in the next Congress with at least 52 seats, and they also added to their majority in the House. The 114th Congress, when it is sworn in early next year, will be one half of a divided government in Washington, opposite President Obama in the White House.  

The shift in control of Congress is potentially historic. In the House, the Republicans increased their majority to at least 243 seats, with Republican candidates leading in several undecided races. It is possible the Republican Party will control as many as 250 seats in the House, the largest Republican House majority since 1928.

SEP
29
2014

LIGHTS ON
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Senate passes Lights On Afterschool resolution

By Erik Peterson

On Sept. 17 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan resolution S. Res. 552 celebrating afterschool programs in honor of upcoming Lights On Afterschool Day on Oct. 23, 2014. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, authored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Lights On Afterschool is celebrated by thousands of parents, students, leaders and educators around the country, who will join together in October to celebrate the power of afterschool programs to improve the lives of young people.  A large and growing body of evidence demonstrates improvements in school-day attendance, behavior, academic achievement and more among children who participate in afterschool programs. Researchers have also found that afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement—an important building block for student success.

MAY
29
2014

CHALLENGE
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Personal experience and research share the stage at Congressional afterschool briefing

By Erik Peterson

On May 22—in conjunction with the 13th annual Afterschool for All Challenge—the Senate Afterschool Caucus, the Afterschool Alliance and the Expanded Learning Project joined forces to host a Capitol Hill briefing featuring compelling stories and encouraging research that point to the success and potential of afterschool and summer learning programs. 

Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Education, shared new data that shows how quality afterschool programs can help close the achievement gap. She emphasized findings that show afterschool programs are particularly effective at improving achievement and positive behavior among low-income students. She noted that afterschool researchers and advocates have data that show that the long-term outcomes associated with afterschool participation are positive and compelling and should move the discussion about the benefits of afterschool beyond the safety and good behaviors conversations.  In addition, Vandell stated that in recent years the research tools and findings have facilitated the incorporation of measures of intensity, duration and quality. 

DEC
12
2013

POLICY
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Budget deal may restore some 2014 sequester cuts

By Erik Peterson

This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA)reached a two year budget deal. The compromise deal restores $63 billion of the harmful sequester cuts that have resulted in decreased federal support for a variety of education opportunities for young people, including support of afterschool and summer learning programs.

The budget deal, reached after weeks of negotiations following the government shutdown in October, restores almost two-thirds of the scheduled non-defense discretionary cuts in 2014, providing $45 billion split evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending.  For 2015 the agreement adds $18 billion, again split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary spending. The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) provides much-needed certainty for FY2014 and FY2015 and paves the way for passage of appropriations bills through regular order, rather than through continuing resolutions and crisis management. While a deal has been struck between budget committee chairs, the full Senate and House must still pass the BBA and the president must sign it into law. It's important to note that initial reaction to the deal from both parties has been positive. If the deal fails, however, a full year continuing resolution with additional sequestration cuts will be the result, likely meaning a continuation of harmful sequestration cuts that are impacting children and youth. 

NOV
15
2013

IN THE FIELD
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Importance of all-girls afterschool programming, inspiring our future generation of female leaders

By Michelle Cravez

Yesterday, experts on the role of afterschool all-girl programming and a diverse group of female leaders addressed the importance of gender specific programming. The Senate Afterschool Caucus, Girls Inc. and the Afterschool Alliance hosted a briefing titled "Ensuring that Tomorrow's Leaders are Strong, Smart, & Bold: The Importance of All-Girls Afterschool Programming."

The panelists discussed the paramount role that these programs play in overthrowing the gender, economic and social barriers to girls' success. All four panelists shared a deep connection with the Girls Inc. program and spoke highly of its proven success record. Participants included Adriana Embus, a recent alumna of a Girls Inc. and now a student at Yale; Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc.; and Dr. Shirley Malcom, Director of Education and Human Resources and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The panelists honed in on the fact that all-girls programs provide a safe and healthy environment for girls to grow as individuals and build the self-confidence and skills necessary for the next generation of women to break through the glass ceiling. A particular focus was placed on the role of STEM afterschool programs and the Girls Inc. program Operation SMART. Although significant strides have been made in the increase of women graduating college with STEM degrees, a substantial gap still exists. Dr. Malcom was one of the head curriculum designers for the Operation SMART program, which helps to develop girls' enthusiasm for and skills in STEM. Dr. Malcom spoke of the stereotypes regarding females in science that still hold girls back from pursuing an interest in these topics. Participants in the Operation SMART program interact with men and women working within the STEM field who serve as role models, and participate in hands-on programming. A community-wide effort composed of partnerships and interaction with schools, community-based organizations, and local businesses and corporations makes these programs possible.

NOV
13
2013

POLICY
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Fighting for afterschool programs with brawn and brains: Mr. Schwarzenegger comes to Washington

By Erik Peterson

In late October former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Washington, D.C., to shine a light on the importance of federal funding for afterschool programs. Through meetings hosted by leadership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with both Republicans and Democrats, as well as a meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a stop at the new D.C. After-School All-Stars program, Gov. Schwarzenegger made clear the importance of afterschool programs in keeping young people safe and supported, inspiring learning for children and youth, and helping working families.

The focus of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s meetings on Capitol Hill was to express strong support for continued federal funding for afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. The governor urged Members of Congress to find a separate funding stream for lengthening the school day or school year so that it doesn't compete with funding for afterschool programs. He also called for supporting the 21st CCLC program so that afterschool programs become an expectation, not an afterthought.