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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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MAR
5

POLICY
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Guest blog: Former Secretary of Education emphasizes importance of afterschool in education reform

By Rachel Clark

Cathy Stevens is the Program Director for the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship at the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Dick Riley told an audience of decision-makers charged with undoing decades of educational inequities in South Carolina that afterschool and expanded learning are a key part of the comprehensive, “collective impact,” education reform needed for rural and poor school districts.

In late 2014, after a 21-year lawsuit, Abbeville v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state is failing to provide its students with an minimally adequate education as required by the state’s constitution. To say this was a long time coming is putting it mildly. In response to this lawsuit, a new 17-member legislative task force began meeting in February to develop plans for revamping the school system, especially for the 33 largely poor and rural plaintiff school districts. Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina native, Richard W. Riley, opened the task force’s first meeting on February 23rd with commentary that emphasized the value of afterschool and expanded learning as part of the broader legislative response.

“Engaging, hands-on academic enrichment opportunities are needed in each elementary and middle school to help struggling students. Such opportunities also should leverage the inspiration of master teachers and the community spirit of mentors and tutors from youth, arts, culture, faith-based, science, community and business organizations,” he emphasized.

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learn more about: Education Reform Guest Blog State Policy
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MAR
4

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate to help close hunger gap

By Erik Peterson

Child nutrition program reauthorization efforts have taken a strong step forward with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introducing the bipartisan  Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613). The legislation would significantly improve the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs so more children can access healthy meals in supportive summer learning and afterschool programs. The bill would also simplify the administration of the program for sponsors.

The bill proposes the following improvements:

  • Improve the area eligibility test to allow community-based organizations to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site must meet a 50 percent threshold which keeps many communities from participating. This change would make summer meals eligibility consistent with 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative guidelines. Maps have been developed for each state to show how many more areas would be served under this proposed change.
  • Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round—afterschool and in the summer—through a single Summer Food Service Program process. This would remove duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
  • Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to participation, especially in rural areas.
  • Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and run all day and for extended hours, but are only able to serve a maximum of two meals with federal funds.

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program over the summer period, provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. They provide children the nutritious meals they need to keep hunger at bay and remain healthy throughout the summer. They also support summer learning programs and help draw children into educational, enrichment, and recreational activities that keep them learning, engaged, active, and safe during school vacation.

A companion bill is expected to be re-introduced shortly in the House. The Afterschool Alliance has joined dozens of other groups in support of the legislation. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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FEB
27

IN THE FIELD
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Advocates continue taking action to urge Congress to #Invest3to6

By Rachel Clark

As debate on ESEA reauthorization reached the floor of the House of Representatives, afterschool supporters continued calling on Congress to save 21st CCLC and invest in afterschool and summer learning programs.  Thanks to advocates from across the country, we're now a quarter of the way toward the goal of sending 10,600 emails to Congress by March 10 on behalf of the 1.6 million kids at risk of losing programs if 21st CCLC isn't protected—with less than two weeks to reach that goal, be sure to email Congress now if you haven't already.

This week, we also launched a Thunderclap campaign to coincide with the Afterschool for All Challenge on March 10, when hundreds of afterschool advocates will meet with Members of Congress face-to-face to share their stories and urge them to protect afterschool funding.  If you can't make it to the Challenge, you can still add your voice—joining the #Invest3to6 Thunderclap will schedule a message to be blasted out from your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account on March 10 at 1PM EST (one time only!).  The message is customizable, so if you have an extra minute, be sure to tag your representatives in Congress and use our America After 3PM dashboard to add stats from your state.

This week in the spotlight for going above and beyond in support of afterschool programs: Advocates from Tennessee, Texas, and YMCA of the USA, who took their messages to legislators at their state Capitols and on Capitol Hill this week.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Federal Policy Legislation
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FEB
26

POLICY
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ESEA reauthorization debate heads to floor of House of Representatives

By Erik Peterson

UPDATE: House Republicans opted not to hold a vote on HR 5 the ESEA reauthorization bill today as had been planned and instead adjourned for the weekend. It is unclear if the House will attempt to vote on the ESEA bill next week or if a longer postponement will take place. Media reports suggest the bill did not have the votes to pass.

The debate on the floor of the House of Representatives began this morning on the House Republican Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. A final vote is expected to take place tomorrow morning. The last time the bill was reauthorized was 2002, and Congress has been trying to reauthorize the current statute since 2007.  According to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who is managing the debate on the House floor for the Majority, HR 5, the Student Success Act, reduces the Federal footprint in education; empowers parents; supports effective teachers; and restores local control.  The White House has issued a veto threat on the partisan bill.

HR 5 does not reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which could lead to more than 1.7 million students losing access to desperately needed afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that keep students safe, inspire learning and provide a lifeline for our hard working families.  While the bill does create the Local Academic Flexible Grant that would fund “supplemental student support activities such as before, after, or summer school activities, tutoring, and expanded learning time,”  it also allows the same funds to support school day activities, such as academic subject specific programs, adjunct teacher programs, extended learning time programs, dual enrollment programs and parent engagement.  At a time when local and state funding is declining, it is likely that this grant would predominantly be used to fund activities during the school day.  

While more than 100 amendments to the bill were filed this past Monday, including five supporting afterschool programs, the House Rules Committee only made 44 “in order” as they were ruled germane to the bill and debated on the House floor.  One of these amendments  focused on afterschool and was offered by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA). Also, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, will offer the last amendment – most likely tomorrow morning - which is the Democratic substitute bill, though it will fail along partisan lines.

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FEB
26

POLICY
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Farm to School Act of 2015 introduced in Congress, would include afterschool programs

By Erik Peterson

The bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress yesterday by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).  The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program.  The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes afterschool programs and summer learning programs as well as preschools and tribal schools while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. 

The legislation has wide support from a variety of sectors for several reasons:

  • Farm to school is a proven method for improving the health of our nation's children.  Today, more than 23 million students are making healthier food choices at school, afterschool, and at home thanks to farm to school activities like school gardens, cooking classes and incorporating local foods in school meals. 
  • Demand for the successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program far exceeds supply.  In its first three years, the program received more than 1,000 applications but only had enough funding to award 221 grants.  In other words, just one in five projects was funded.

A complete summary of the bill and ways to take action in support of the bill can be found here. The Afterschool Alliance supports the bipartisan legislation and will be tracking the bill throughout the child nutrition reauthorization process this year. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition
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FEB
25

POLICY
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Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act (HR 1042) in the House of Representatives.  The  legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill was announced at an event in Flint, Mich. last week and is companion legislation to bipartisan S. 308 introduced previously in the Senate.  A summary of the legislation is available here.

The reintroduction of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act comes as the full House of Representatives prepares to debate and vote this week on HR 5, a partisan ESEA reauthorization bill that would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that can be used for afterschool or in-school programming.

The House Afterschool for America’s Children Act:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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FEB
19

POLICY
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Senate Afterschool Caucus briefing highlights the value of afterschool programs

By Sophie Papavizas

A winter storm that shut down the federal government in Washington, DC on Tuesday, could not stop afterschool advocates from taking their message to the Capitol the next day.  On Wednesday, February 18th, the Senate Afterschool Caucus, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), hosted a briefing titled “America After 3PM: Supporting Student Success Through Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs.”  The briefing focused on recently released America After 3PM data on the need for high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs and experiences at the state and local level of how the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative plays a critical role in providing young people with educational and engaging experiences to help them succeed in school and in life.

A packed room of Congressional staff from both the House and Senate as well as afterschool advocates from national, state and local organizations heard from the panel of experts.  The panels was moderated by Nicole Johnson, a member of the board of the Maryland Out of School Time Partnership, consultant for Extraordinary Changes, and previously Senior Director for Elev8 Baltimore, a full-service community schools initiative.

The panelists painted a comprehensive picture of the supports that afterschool  programs provide:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy
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FEB
19

POLICY
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Congressman Kildee announces bill to support afterschool programming

By Erik Peterson

At an event at Potter Elementary School in Flint, Mich. on Tuesday, Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI) announced new legislation in Congress to invest in successful afterschool programs in cities across the U.S.  The bill, the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, leverages local and private support for afterschool and summer learning programs to provide a safe space for young people after school and help increase opportunities for children both in and out of the classroom.

Congressman Kildee’s legislation, the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, would:

  • Invest in successful 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs.
  • Increase flexibility for states to tailor their afterschool activities toward non-traditional programs such as STEM education, health, fitness, art and music.
  • Expand afterschool programming from simply preparing students for a standardized test to providing children with a safe and constructive environment.
  • Establish rigorous state-based reviews to improve the quality of afterschool programs and ensure that funding is maximizing a child’s education.

The announcement of the bill comes just a week after the House Education and the Workforce Committee voted to pass ESEA reauthorization bill H.R. 5 out of Committee, sending it to the House floor.  The partisan HR 5 would eliminate 21st CCLC.  Friends of afterschool can continue to reach out to Congress in support of afterschool and summer learning programs.

The announced bill is companion legislation to the bipartisan S. 308 introduced in the Senate last month by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).  Congressman Kildee is expected to introduce the bill next week when Congress is back in session.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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