While Congress continues to struggle to pass federal spending and policy changes advancing afterschool and summer learning programs, advocates have been busy building support for local and state efforts to expand access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. From Vermont to California, friends of afterschool coordinated by Statewide Afterschool Networks have succeeded in fighting back cuts and laying the groundwork for new investments in out of school programming that keep young people safe, help working families and inspire learning. Below are a few highlights of them many actions taking place at the state level.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently signed H. 480, a Miscellaneous Education bill, into law as Act 48. The Act, supported by Vermont Afterschool inc., established the Expanded Learning Opportunities Special Fund at the Vermont Agency of Education. No money was budgeted for the new fund but having it established means the state can start raising money for Expanded Learning Opportunities through grants, donations and contributions. Read more on the Vermont Afterschool blog.
Early this month Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake began fulfilling her campaign promise to double afterschool funding by announcing $4.7 million in additional funds for afterschool programs in the city. The Maryland Out of School Time Network worked closely with a number of state and local partners to build support for the funding. These funds will support community based organizations including Associated Black Charities, the Family League of Baltimore and the Baltimore City Community Schools’ afterschool initiatives. Rawlings-Blake stated the recent uptick in violence in the city following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody makes investing in young people and keeping them safe in the hours after school more important than ever. Read more on the Baltimore Sun website.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has twice proposed drastic cuts to a wide variety of human services, including proposed cuts to the state’s Teen REACH afterschool program, which promotes success in school and life. The program boasts impressive statistics with 99.3% of Teen REACH student graduating compared to a state average of 86%. 93% of students improved their grades and 81% improved their attendance. Illinois’ ACT Now Coalition (ACT Now) and afterschool advocates went to bat for Teen REACH, helping prevent a sudden disruption of afterschool services in the spring and ensuring program funding was included in the budget sent to the Governor. Illinois’ state budget is still being debated among policymakers.
After two years of works by the New Jersey School-Age Care Coalition and a host of afterschool advocates across the state, Bill A4119 recently passed in the state Senate establishing the New Jersey Out-of-School Time Advisory Commission. The bill was passed after the removal of a $60,000 appropriation attached to its passage but even without this minimal funding, afterschool advocates are excited to get to work.
Established through voter referendum, the After-school Education and Safety (ASES) program has invested over $5 billion dollars in after-school programs in California over the past decade. Over 70% of low-income schools in the state have an ASES program and programs serve more than 400,000 students every day. ASES has guaranteed funding every year but the funding has been flat. With rising costs of living and the minimum wage in California, the same amount of money can fund fewer programs. A wide coalition of afterschool advocates including the California AfterSchool Network sought a $25 million increase in the 2015-2016 state budget that was ultimately not included but support from many groups and individuals makes the outlook good for future success.
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