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Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool funding is still on the chopping block.

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget is in, and it eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding completely. Despite an overwhelming display of support for afterschool from voters, communities, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, the White House remains committed to cutting the programs that kids and families rely on. 

When the budget cut was floated back in March, the reaction was swift and absolutely clear: 

  • More than 1,450 diverse organizations signed a letter calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject President Trump’s proposal and fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) at or above its current level of $1.167 billion.
  • Eighty-one members of Congress (twice as many as last year) signed a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging them not to cut afterschool funding.
  • Researchers across the ideological spectrum spoke out about the value of afterschool programs.
  • Highly respected institutions posted new research summaries demonstrating that afterschool programs provide tremendous benefits – as nearly every study has clearly shown.
  • A Quinnipiac national poll found that 83 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs, with just 14 supporting the administration’s position.
  • Congress provided a modest increase in Community Learning Center funding for the remainder of FY2017, enabling 25,000 more students across the nation to participate in afterschool programs.

As our executive director Jodi Grant put it, the budget cut would be “a stunning blow” to working families, “who count on afterschool programs to provide enriching, educational opportunities for their children during the hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.”

But kids are the big losers if this budget cut goes forward. A decade of research show that afterschool works to boost student success. National studies of students who regularly attend 21st Century Community Learning Centers found participants improved math and reading grade level performance, class participation, homework completion, and classroom behavior. For example, in Texas’ 21st CCLC programs, students were more likely to be promoted to the next grade, while a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program in California found that students participating received higher ELA and math assessment scores. For additional details on these evaluations and to read more state reports, download our 21st CCLC Statewide Evaluation Academic Highlights fact sheet.

And we know that the benefits of afterschool aren’t just for the children in the programs; parents with children in afterschool programs report being more focused at work and being able to work a full day.  That additional security has huge economic results for individual families and for the nation. In fact, according to a study by Catalyst and the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis University, parents with children in afterschool programs contribute an additional $50 to $300 billion more to the economy each year.

At a time when 1 in 5 children is unsupervised after the school day ends and nearly 19.4 million children are waiting to get into an afterschool program, “The administration’s proposal is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promises to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” Grant added. Afterschool is working for millions of American families, and millions more have made it clear that there is immense unmet demand for programs—why would we want to shut them down?

It’s time to speak up in defense of afterschool. Our momentum is strong and we have fought back against one budgetary elimination before: we can do it again, and win. Email your representatives in Congress right now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to tell your representatives that you will not accept elimination of federal afterschool funding. Together, our voices and our advocacy can make the difference that saves afterschool.



Weekly Media Roundup: May 17, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Programs at Risk – Will Jerry Brown Help? (Sacramento Bee, California)

Advocates rallied yesterday at the California State Capitol to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to support funding for afterschool programs. The event was organized by the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, and speakers included several state senators and assemblymen. Following the rally, advocates delivered more than 8,000 letters to Gov. Brown expressing support for afterschool programs, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Charlie Dent Says He’ll Try to ‘Protect’ After-School Programs Trump Wants to Cut (Allentown Morning Call, Pennsylvania)

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent recently visited a Communities in Schools afterschool program at Washington Elementary School, expressing his support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which President Trump’s most recent budget proposal defunded. “We’re going to try and do what we can to protect a lot of these programs that help children coming from challenging socio-economic circumstances,” Dent told the Allentown Morning Call. More than 700 Allentown School District students could lose access to afterschool programs under the president’s budget proposal. 

Young Entrepreneurs Host Expo to Show Off Their Products (Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Nebraska)

Fifth- and sixth-grade students at Mitchell Elementary School are learning to develop and launch their own businesses through a 14-week afterschool program. EntrepreneurShip Investigation, sponsored by Western Nebraska Community College, teaches students how to sell and market products, culminating in an expo held earlier this month where students showed their work to their classmates. “It’s important for these children, because even though they may never want to be an entrepreneur, it gives them an appreciation for what their future bosses go through,” program head Ellen Ramig told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.

Students Work Around-the-Clock During 27-Hour Space Mission (Marietta Daily Journal, Georgia)

Six elementary school students blasted into space last week on the Intrepid, a trailer-turned-simulator in the Russell Elementary School parking lot, while their classmates worked in Mission Control to monitor the simulator’s altitude, speed and trajectory. The 27-hour launch simulation was the culmination of a unique afterschool program that teaches elementary schoolers the ins and outs of space exploration. Russell’s space program has been sending its young astronauts up in the Intrepid every year since 1998, according to the Marietta Daily Journal, building their teamwork and problem-solving skills along the way. 

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Weekly Media Roundup: May 3, 2017

By Luci Manning

Council Bluffs Schools to Expand Grant-Funded Before-, After-School Clubs After Seeing Benefits (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

A study by the Iowa Department of Education showed that participation in afterschool programs leads to increased attendance, better behavior and improved academic performance for students. Thanks to the favorable review, the Council Bluffs Community School District will receive additional funding to expand its afterschool and summer programming this year. “I’m amazed and thrilled because the data we’re getting is right in line with what people are seeing, which is increased achievement and attendance and decreased behavior,” 21st Century Grant Program Director Sandra Day told the Daily Nonpareil.

After-School Programs Help Nebraska Thrive (North Platte Telegraph, Nebraska)

In the North Platte Telegraph Nebraska State Board of Education member Molly O’Holleran and Beyond School Bells network lead Jeff Cole discuss that afterschool programs like Kids Klub in North Platte benefit not just students, but also parents and businesses: “Over half of the elementary school students in North Platte Public Schools are registered in KIDS Klub. These families depend on KIDS Klub to bridge the gap between the end of the school day and the end of the workday. The parents and guardians of these registered students are employed by over 350 local businesses. These Lincoln County businesses depend on KIDS Klub so their employees can come to work with the peace of mind they need to focus on their jobs. The evidence is clear and demonstrable: After-school programming benefits all Nebraskans, urban and rural alike.”

All-Girls Group at D.C. High School Aims to Build Confidence (Washington Post, District of Columbia)

At Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, 13 girls meet once a week after school to discuss how they’re feeling, how their schoolwork is coming along, and how things are going at home as part of the H.E.R. Story afterschool club. H.E.R. Story, which stands for Helping Empower Regalness, is a space for girls to come together to support one another in the hopes of boosting their confidence and their academic achievement, according to the Washington Post. D.C. Public Schools is planning to implement similar support groups for girls of color in schools across the city this summer.

Students Plant, Give Marigolds to Older Residents (Sunbury Daily Item, Pennsylvania)

A group of children in an afterschool program planted marigold flowers to give to residents of the Maria Joseph Manor nursing home last month, according to the Sunbury Daily Item. The program, Heeter’s Little Hearts, leads students on community service projects to develop compassion and caring for others. 

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Afterschool funding preserved in proposed FY2017 spending bill, still under attack for 2018

By Erik Peterson

May 8, 2017 update: The President signed the FY2017 spending bill into law last Friday. Read Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant’s statement on the law.

May 4, 2017 update: Today, Congress passed its final fiscal year (FY) 2017 omnibus spending bill. The bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers by a vote of 309-118 in the House and 79-18 in the Senate. The president is expected to sign the bill into law during the next 24 hours. For details from the omnibus bill on FY 2017 funding levels for afterschool and summer learning programs, please read below. 

Late on the night of April 30, after a weekend of negotiations, the House released a $1.070 trillion omnibus spending bill which will fund the government through September 30, 2017. Votes on the measure are expected this week, as failure to pass a spending bill by the end of the day on Friday, May 5 would lead to a government shutdown.

What's in the bill?

Congress increased 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding by $25 million over the FY2016 level, to $1.19 billion—a win for children, families and the country. The proposed increase means doors to quality local afterschool and summer learning programs will stay open for 1.6 million students and families. Additionally, it will make programs available for 25,000 of the 19.4 million students currently waiting for access.

This increase is especially noteworthy following President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the program in his FY2018 budget preview, which drove friends of afterschool to reach out to Congress with more than 57,000 calls and emails, energized supporters to turn out at town halls in their communities, and prompted more than 1,400 local, state, and national organizations to sign a letter in support of Community Learning Centers. Champions of the program on Capitol Hill showed strong support for Community Learning Centers as well, with 81 members of the House coming together across party lines and signing a letter in support of the program. A huge thank-you to all who worked so hard in support of Community Learning Center funds.

Other funding streams that can be used to support afterschool and summer learning programs were largely supported in the proposed omnibus:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): $95 million increase up to $2.9 billion. Typically about one-third of children served through CCDBG are provided with school-age afterschool care. This funding builds on the consistent funding increases in recent years to help states implement quality improvement reforms in the CCDBG Act of 2014.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): AmeriCorps and VISTA are funded at last year’s level. In addition, the bill includes expanded resources for state commissions to build the capacity of national and community service programs at the local level. AmeriCorps and VISTA positons can be used to support afterschool programs.
  • Full Service Community Schools: $10 million, level with last year’s funding. FSCS grants support community schools and often leverage afterschool and summer learning supports.
  • Title I: $15.5 billion, a $550 million increase above FY2016. Title I funds can be used to support school district-provided afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • Title IV Part A Student Support Academic Enrichment Grants: Funded at $400 million, an increase of $122 million over the total for the consolidated programs in 2016 but less than the $1.65 billion authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. These grants were changed so that states will offer them competitively to districts rather than as formula grants, as originally authored in ESSA. Afterschool STEM is an allowable use of the grants, as are physical education, community school coordinators, and a wide range of mental health supports and education technology.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): The legislation funds NSF at $7.5 billion–$9 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. NSF targets funding to programs that foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience and STEM education.
  • Youth Mentoring Initiative: $80 million decreased by $10 million from FY2016. These grants funds support mentoring initiatives for young people in and out of school. 
  • Perkins/Career Technical Education: Funded at $1.135 billion, an increase of $10 million, to support older youth career and workforce readiness education.  

The funding level meets the base discretionary spending caps provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act with $551 billion in base defense spending and $518.5 billion in base non-defense spending. Discretionary funding for the Labor-HHS-Education bill (Division H of the package) is cut by $1.1 billion below the 2016 enacted level.  The Department of Education (ED) receives $68.2 billion, a net cut of $1.1 billion after including the bill’s rescission of $1.3 billion from the Pell grant reserve (i.e., previously appropriated funding for Pell grants that is saved as a surplus until it is needed). 

What comes next?

The House Rules Committee is meeting on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. – an initial step needed to clear the bill for a vote by the full House. The bill could come to the House floor for a vote as early as Wednesday, May 3. The Senate would follow with votes in anticipation of passing the fiscal year 2017 spending bill before the continuing resolution expires this Friday night, May 5.

With both the House and Senate expected to vote on the omnibus spending bill this week, friends of afterschool can reach out to their senators and representatives to weigh in on the importance of the bill.

Though Community Learning Centers see increased funding in this year’s bill, our field must not stop speaking out. We need afterschool supporters to make your voices heard as Congress begins looking to FY2018, the year when President Trump wants to eliminate funding altogether. With your help, we’ll continue seeing wins like the one we’re celebrating today for America’s kids and families.



Weekly Media Roundup: April 26, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Programs Merit Support (Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska)

Jeff Cole, network lead for afterschool program Beyond the Bells, and Catherine Lang, director of the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, outline how afterschool programs are building the workforce of the future in the Omaha World-Herald: “Nebraska’s after-school and summer programs are helping grow a new kind of workforce: one that is STEM-literate, entrepreneurial and innovative. Through partnerships with community experts, kids in Nebraska’s after-school programs from Omaha to Sidney are learning how to extract DNA from strawberries, build and program robots, launch new businesses, develop coding skills – and much more…. Supporting after-school programs in general and after-school STEM programs in particular is a healthy, smart investment in our communities’ futures.”  

Blankets for Bogota (Klamath Falls Herald and News, Oregon)

Around 20 students in Ponderosa Middle School’s afterschool program are combining their math and art skills to help a suffering community. The students are making blankets to send to Bogota, Colombia, to help those who survived recent floods and landslides. “It’s fun making the blankets and I like that it’s going to go to somebody in need,” eighth-grader Serenity Best told the Klamath Falls Herald and News. Instructors will help the students research the city of Bogota and Colombia and study the impact of flooding on families in the country, and students will include photos of themselves along with the blankets to add a personal touch to the transfer.

Programs Benefit Kids (Deseret Morning News, Utah)

About 100 business leaders, educators and politicians came together last week to discuss the need for further investment in afterschool programs in Utah. “It’s really a low-cost way for kids to be able to stay engaged during those critical after-school hours, but also learn to be better citizens,” Utah Afterschool Network executive director Kelly Riding told the Deseret News. The meeting was partially in response to President Trump’s budget proposal, which would eliminate funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center program. A loss of funding could impact about 57,000 Utah students.

Tiny Camdenton Is Home to One of Missouri’s Best High School Robotics Programs (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri)

Camdenton High School isn’t just known for football anymore – in the past few years, afterschool robotics have taken the school district by storm. The program is so popular that one in 14 students districtwide is somehow involved in afterschool robotics and the elementary schools hold a lottery to select participants. The program has inspired many of its graduates to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) after they leave high school – 92 percent of its students go on to either study STEM in college or go directly to working in a STEM field, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Afterschool Ambassador Sherry Comer is the afterschool director for the Camdenton district. 

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Experts speak up for Community Learning Centers on Capitol Hill

By Erik Peterson

Photo by Alex Knapp.

More than 70 attendees including dozens of staff representing senators and representatives from across the U.S. packed a briefing room in the Russell Senate Office Building last Friday, April 21, to hear from a panel of Community Learning Center providers. Local afterschool and summer learning programs leverage the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative to provide quality learning experiences to young people when school is out. Representing Community Learning Center programs from urban, suburban, and rural locations across the country, the speakers spoke to the evidence that their programs achieve a wide range of meaningful outcomes for the 1.6 million children that participate in Community Learning Centers each year.

The briefing was organized by the Afterschool Alliance and the Senate Afterschool Caucus, chaired by Senators Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Franken (D-Minn.), along with a host of afterschool stakeholders: After-School All-Stars, American Camps Association, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Save the Children, Communities in Schools, Every Hour Counts, National AfterSchool Association, National League of Cities, National Summer Learning Association and the YMCA of the USA.

Education policy staff for Senators Murkowski and Franken kicked off the event by welcoming fellow staff members and introducing panel moderator Jennifer Peck, president and CEO of the Partnership for Children and Youth based in northern California. Peck set the stage for the event by citing key research and evidence demonstrating the positive impact of Community Learning Centers on student academic outcomes as well as on other indicators of student success. She then introduced the panelists who spoke about their programs, citing research and relating personal stories that demonstrate the profound life-changing effects of quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

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Letters send wave of afterschool support to Capitol Hill

By Jillian Luchner

On April 10, the Afterschool Alliance released a letter signed by 139 national and more than 1,000 state and local organizations, calling on House and Senate appropriators to fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative at or above its current level of $1.167 billion and reject President Trump’s call to end federal funding for afterschool programs.

Also on Monday, Representatives Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) sent a bipartisan Dear Colleague letter signed by 81 members of Congress to House Appropriations Committee leaders Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) with a similar message, calling for “funding of no less than $1.167 billion” for Community Learning Centers. The letter was applauded by afterschool advocates and the Afterschool Alliance.

Inside the sign-on letter

“Quality afterschool and summer learning programs are vital to communities across the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in releasing the organizational letter. “The idea that the federal government would abandon the students and families that rely on afterschool is unthinkable. President Trump’s misguided proposal to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers has triggered a tidal wave of opposition that’s reflected by the diverse and powerful voices that are calling on Congress to continue—or increase—federal funding for afterschool. This funding directly supports afterschool programs for 1.6 million children across the country.”

National signatories of the letter include youth-serving organizations, education groups, and organizations focused on hunger, fitness, gender equity, health, the arts, and law enforcement, among others. The list was signed by the American Federation of Teachers, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, FBI National Academies, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Association of State Boards of Education, National School Boards Association, National Education Association, National League of Cities, National PTA, National Rural Education Association, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, STEM Education Coalition, United Way Worldwide, and YMCA of the USA.

The list of state and local organizational signatories is similarly broad, with signers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The letter is addressed to the chairs and ranking members of key appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate.

The organizations wrote, “In every state and almost every Congressional district, 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding supports afterschool and summer learning programs that offer locally based school and community solutions that keep children and teenagers safe, inspire young people to learn and support working families.”

Inside the Dear Colleague letter

In the Dear Colleague letter to appropriators in the House, the 81 signing representatives called for at least level funding of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, citing a meta-analysis of 75 separate studies which showed that afterschool students demonstrated improved behavior and performed better academically than students who did not participate in afterschool.

The letter also mentioned the impact programs have on the workforce: “More and more working families rely on 21st Century Community Learning Centers each year to ensure their children are in a safe environment during non-school hours, allowing them to excel in their jobs.”

In the face of a dire threat from the White House, this outpouring of support is encouraging to the afterschool field.

“It’s clear from these two letters that policymakers, educators, parents and a wide variety of organizations, including those focused on health, law enforcement, science education, arts and more, recognize the tremendous value afterschool programs provide,” said Grant. “The president’s proposal to eliminate Community Learning Centers doesn’t have any more traction around the country than it does here in Washington. It is up to Congress to make sure the federal budget reflects this clearly expressed demand for continued, even increased, federal support for afterschool.”

Last year, a similar congressional letter was signed by 40 members. This year’s 81 signatures show a doubling of congressional support for Community Learning Centers, which Trump’s February budget outline put on the chopping block.

What's next?

Members of Congress (find yours here) are on recess and back in their home states and districts. It’s a great time to contact them about the importance of before-school, afterschool, and summer programming to you and you community.

There are lots of ways to get in touch with your representatives and show your support: send your representatives a letter or an email, post on social media, make a phone call, pay a visit to their local office, talk to them at town hall meetings or press events, or invite them to come and see your local program at work. You can also write to your local newspaper or TV station, since lawmakers will be sure to catch up on the local news while at home.

With big budget decisions on the horizon, the voices your representatives hear now and their frequency, diversity, and strength are more critical than ever before. The letters and calls in support of afterschool are streaming in and the strategy is working to influence policymakers. Add your voice and personal story to the chorus. 2017 is an important year for the children, families, and communities who need affordable quality afterschool!

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10 best moments from the National Afterschool Summit

By Elizabeth Tish

On April 5, leaders in education, business, media, government, sports, and more gathered at the University of Southern California for the 2017 National Afterschool Summit, “Ready to Work,” co-hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute, and After-School All-Stars. High-wattage speakers brought their diverse backgrounds and perspectives to a series of engaging discussions about how afterschool prepares students to succeed at work and in life.

With so many powerful insights shared by an impressive roster of experts, it was hard to narrow the list of highlights, but here are ten of our favorite moments from the event:

  1. The Bell Gardens Intermediate and Generation Dance Team kicked off the event, led by their teacher and mayor, Jose Mendoza. Taking the stage after the performance, Extra’s Mario Lopez said he was an afterschool kid like the dancers, who come from a low-income community: “That was me... I’m living proof of what afterschool can do.”
  2. Matt Iseman, host of American Ninja Warrior and winner of The New Celebrity Apprentice, called us “Afterschool Ninja Warriors” and cheered on our efforts to battle President Trump’s proposed budget cut. Iseman commented, “Working parents are more productive at work when they know their kids are in a safe, productive environment.”
  3. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set the tone for the event, reminding us that more than 20 million kids are waiting for an afterschool program.
  4. NFL star JJ Watt, whose foundation provides afterschool opportunities to middle schoolers, shared that afterschool programs teach skills like teamwork and how to work hard. As Watt pointed out, these skills are not only important in school, but also in work and life.
  5. Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, discussed the reason afterschool and work are connected—and why employers should care about afterschool: "We want a diverse, educated workforce domestically. Afterschool can have a huge impact on that."
  6. Senate Afterschool Caucus co-chair Senator Lisa Murkowski stopped by via video message to encourage us all to reach out to our representatives in Congress and share the message that #AfterschoolWorks.
  7. Oregon Superintendent of the Year Heidi Sipe said, “Afterschool helps students dream new dreams… see a different future… Afterschool is a magical time. It is nonnegotiable.”
  8. “Afterschool makes a difference in the economic mobility of families and kids,” said Charlotte (N.C.) Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
  9. American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Gerard Robinson noted that afterschool helps kids “build minds, bodies, and spirits,” and the social capital skills kids need to succeed. 
  10. Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, touched on the reason for the event, saying, "Afterschool programs aren't just for academic preparation, but life preparation."

These are just a few highlights from the event. Relive the event by watching the full recording of the Summit, or check out what people said about the event on Twitter. Share your favorite moments with us using the hashtag #AfterschoolWorks! 

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