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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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JUN
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Postcard project connects program providers with policymakers

By Guest Blogger

By Sara Beanblossom, Director of Communications and Special Events at the Indiana Afterschool Network

As part of our program provider advocacy initiative, the Indiana Afterschool Network is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to share stories about the power of afterschool. Based on conversations we’ve had with program providers and policymakers, we embarked on a project that would most efficiently:

  1. Create an opportunity for providers, parents, and kids to share their voices on why afterschool is essential to them
  2. Create an opportunity for policymakers to easily hear the feedback from their constituents

Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse suggested a postcard campaign with clear and compelling messages. We borrowed imagery from the Afterschool Alliance’s clear and energetic infographics and worked with Burness, a global communications firm, to repurpose and customize the infographics to tell the specific stories of Indiana. The postcards were designed with clearly-marked blank spaces for personalized feedback and the exact name and location of each program provider.

JUN
12
2017

CHALLENGE
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Facts and figures from the 16th annual Afterschool for All Challenge

By Erik Peterson

Thank you to the thousands of friends of afterschool for the hard work this week in Washington and nationwide to send a clear message Congress that afterschool works!

More than 200 attendees were in Washington DC this week for the 16th annual Afterschool for All Challenge. Advocates from 45 states participated in 200 meetings with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill on June 7. While the congressional visits were happening, a team of afterschool STEM advocates met with officials from the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB), the Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Outside of Washington, D.C. friends of afterschool made hundreds of phone calls and sent thousands of emails to congressional offices. In one day, there were 3,700 meetings, calls and emails in support of federal afterschool funding.

We are still getting feedback from the meetings and calls, but so far three members of Congress have signed up as new Afterschool Caucus members (one Republican and two Democrats) and 12 members signed on as new co-sponsors of H.R. 2353 The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (11 Republicans and one Democrat). The feedback on 21st CCLC support has also been overwhelmingly positive!

On June 6, an inspiring Afterschool Showcase celebrated the power of afterschool with youth and staff from amazing afterschool programs from around the country. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) made brief speeches and the American Federation of Teacher’s president Randi Weingarten made a passionate appeal for afterschool.

JUN
9
2017

POLICY
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Secretary DeVos testifies before Senate Appropriations subcommittee

By Erik Peterson

On June 6, hours before afterschool advocates took to the Hill to meet with 200 members of Congress, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget proposal. Senators of both parties who questioned the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative brought up the topic of federal afterschool funding.

Just as the House hearing last month was highly partisan and politically charged, so was the Senate hearing. Democrats and DeVos clashed about the federal role in protecting students from discrimination, whether federal laws would apply to students who used vouchers to attend private schools, and about cuts to federal grant and loan programs.

Republicans were considerably friendlier to DeVos, but many expressed their support for programs that were on the chopping block, including Community Learning Centers, Perkins Career and Technical Education program, student grants for higher education and Impact Aid. Repeatedly, DeVos reiterated well-rehearsed lines such as “if schools are taking federal funds, they need to follow federal law” while refusing to elaborate. While the partisanship was palpable, DeVos remained measured and calm.

JUN
8
2017

CHALLENGE
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Memorable moments from the Afterschool for All Challenge

By Charlotte Steinecke

We’ve had a whirlwind two days in Washington, D.C., working with afterschool youth, parents, program providers, and concerned community members in anticipation of meetings with members of Congress. The Afterschool for All Challenge kicked off with a day of workshops and sessions, followed by a showcase on the Hill with speakers including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

On Wednesday, teams from 45 states and D.C. attended 200 meetings all across the Hill to bring the case for afterschool to the Capitol. The delegations got an early start with a prep session at 7:30 a.m. and met with elected officials throughout the day – and even into the evening.

The 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge was an inspiring event for friends of afterschool across the country! Here are a few snapshots from Tuesday and Wednesday:

MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Sign your organization to the HOST Coalition letter

By Charlotte Steinecke

With the Trump administration’s full FY2018 budget released just this week, it’s time for afterschool programs, professionals, and organizations to rally together and push back against a budget that would eliminate federal afterschool and out-of-school time funding.

The Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition has drafted a letter to Congress that sends a strong, unified message in support of federal policies and programs that promote health and wellness for children across the country. The letter particularly mentions the ways afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs provide a crucial link between federal health and wellness policies for children and the real life actions that help children grow up strong, active, and at a healthy childhood weight.

“With an established record of accomplishment, afterschool and summer learning programs should not be underestimated as potential 'game changers' in promoting wellness among young people and therefore funding that support these programs must be maintained,” the letter reads.

National or state organizations are strongly urged to sign the letter in order to demonstrate the broad support for healthy out of school time programs.

Read the letter here. To sign on, click here and complete the form by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 2.

MAY
25
2017

POLICY
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Secretary DeVos testifies on administration’s education budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the Trump administration’s newly released FY2018 full education budget proposal. While the hearing mainly focused on school choice, vouchers, and state flexibility, several members of Congress spoke out against the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool initiative.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) opened the hearing, followed by opening statements by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).

Rep. DeLauro ran through a list of programs that are on the chopping block, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which “help keep two million kids safe after school.” Observing that “education is the great equalizer in our country,” DeLauro highlighted the necessity of quality education resources for the most vulnerable.

“We have an achievement gap in this country—and it is worse in high-poverty areas, both urban and rural. Yet these are the very areas we would starve with this budget,” DeLauro said.

Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) noted that afterschool programs are one of her favorite education initiatives because even if you “can’t get behind” educational enrichment activities, these programs can guarantee working parents that their children are safe after the school day ends. She also pointed out the stark contrast between the president’s proposed FY2018 and the bipartisan omnibus package just passed earlier in May.

Secretary DeVos testified in support of the budget, followed by an extended question and answer period. Reps. DeLauro, Lowey and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) all spoke out in support of the Community Learning Centers federal afterschool and summer learning program.

“[This] morally bankrupt budget steals health care from children and food assistance from hungry families in order to pad the pockets of billionaires and defense contractors,” Lee said. “If their budget is enacted, afterschool programs will close. Seniors will be forced to forgo medical care. Parents will have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.”

While Secretary DeVos did not directly address the proposed cut to afterschool, she did speak to the need for creativity in education, stating, “ I want to unleash a new era of creativity and ingenuity in the education space. My hope is that—working in concert with each of you—we can make education in America the envy of the rest of the world.”

The afterschool field has long been a home to innovation and creativity and we look forward to continuing to make that case to the Secretary.

The subcommittee is expected to consider the FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill later this summer. While the president’s budget proposal eliminates afterschool funding, the subcommittee will ultimately determine the funding level for Community Learning Centers and all other education and human services programs. Earlier this spring, more than 80 members of Congress from all across party lines submitted a letter to the subcommittee calling for full funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Friends of afterschool programs can reach out to members of Congress now, sending a clear message: Americans support afterschool and summer learning programs! Add your voice and take action now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to send a clear message of support for afterschool funding for 2018 and for years to come.

MAY
24
2017

POLICY
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Number crunch: Details from the president's FY2018 budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo of Mick Mulvaney by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 full budget proposal, following up on the “skinny budget” outline released in March. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017 (FY18).

Consistent with the skinny budget released in March, the full budget proposal proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which funds local afterschool programs in all 50 states. That proposal, which would devastate the 1.6 million children and families, comes in stark contrast to the strong support for afterschool recently displayed in Congress in the passage of the bipartisan FY17 omnibus spending bill last month, which included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers.

A budget opposed to research

The budget proposal, titled A New Foundation for American Greatness, attempts to justify the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers by claiming that a lack of evidence exists that links the program to increased student achievement. In fact, over a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs do in fact yield positive outcomes for participating children.

The Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in December 2015 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and saw its funding increased in the 2016 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support across party lines and a wealth of research to the contrary, the administration continues to maintain that the Community Learning Centers program is ineffective. The only evidence the administration uses to back its claim is hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from numerous researchers showing that afterschool works. 

In fact, the Department of Education’s most recent report on Community Learning Centers finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Center programs improved their math and reading grades, two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and more than half improved their classroom behavior. One out of four students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in both math and reading test scores. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.

MAY
1
2017

POLICY
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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.