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The President's FY2017 budget: An afterschool and summer learning perspective

By Erik Peterson

Today President Obama released the final budget request of his presidency, proposing a $4 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year, which begins this October. The president requested $1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) —a cut of $167 million that would be devastating to the 170,000 children and their families that stand to lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs under the proposal. Read Executive Director Jodi Grant's official response to the budget proposal. 

The budget proposal has also been deemed “dead on arrival” by Congressional leadership.

The 21st CCLC initiative was reauthorized last December in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and saw funding increased by $15 million as part of the bipartisan 2016 fiscal year omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support, more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school, and the parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs—but programs are unavailable, unaffordable or both. Rather than cut this vital support for young people and their families, Congress should increase funding to $1.3 billion to help meet the growing demand for afterschool programs and help address rising labor costs associated with quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

Additional Department of Education funding that supports afterschool and summer learning includes $15.36 billion for Title I grants—essentially level with Title I funding from last year. Promise Neighborhoods receives a proposed increase of $55 million which would bring it to $128 million. Full Service Community Schools is kept level at $10 million. The budget request proposes $500 million for the new ESSA Title IV Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant, which can be used to fund STEM afterschool as well as a wide variety of other supports for students during the school day. A proposal is also included to allow states to make these grants to school districts on a competitive basis rather than by formula as stipulated by ESSA, and the President proposes to raise the minimum grant level to $50,000.

Two new proposed Department of Education programs of interest to the afterschool field include $120 million for a new Stronger Together Grants program, “which would encourage the development of innovative, ambitious plans to increase socioeconomic diversity through voluntary, community-supported strategies, and expand existing efforts in states and communities.” And $100 million for a new discretionary Computer Science for All Development Grants program for school districts, which would promote innovative strategies to provide high-quality instruction and other learning opportunities in computer science. View the Department of Education’s budget summary.

Other budget news of note for the afterschool community:

Informal STEM Learning

The FY2017 president’s budget includes a total of $3 billion for STEM education across departments and agencies, which is level funded at 2015 enacted levels. The National Science Foundations’ Education and Human Resources Directorate receives $953M, which is a $73M increase (8.3 percent) over the FY2016 estimate of $880M. NASA’s Office of Education receives $100M, which is a 12% increase over the FY2016 estimate. Stay tuned as we will break down all the details of the STEM education budget request for you in a blog tomorrow.

National Service

The budget requests $1.1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The funding level would support approximately 87,400 AmeriCorps members, including summer positions for disconnected youth, an expansion of Resilience AmeriCorps, and additional public-private partnerships to create more opportunities for Americans to serve. Overall, the budget will expand AmeriCorps by approximately 13,000 members over FY 2015 levels, while also supporting the Social Innovation Fund and VISTA. All three of these Corporation programs help support afterschool and summer learning programs.

Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

The president’s budget expands on previous commitments to quality, affordable child care. The Budget continues the historic proposal from last year that provides $82 billion over 10 years in additional mandatory funds for child care. This investment will increase the number of children served to over 2.6 million children and guarantee that low-and moderate-income working families can access high-quality child care, so that all young children are safe and ready to learn. This landmark proposal also makes significant investments in raising the quality of child care, including investments to improve the skills, competencies, and training of the child care workforce, and a higher subsidy rate for higher quality care. The Budget also provides an additional $200 million in discretionary child care funding, which will support states, tribes, and territories as they implement new health, safety, and quality requirements of the bipartisan child care reauthorization act of 2014. The additional funding also includes $40 million for pilots that will test and evaluate strategies for addressing the child care needs of working families, especially families working non-traditional hours or in rural areas.

The President’s budget request now goes to Congress, where budget and appropriations deliberations for FY2017 are getting underway. House and Senate Appropriations Committees are holding hearings this winter to hear details of the president’s budget request. Check the Afterschool Snack blog regularly for more information on how friends of afterschool programs can inform elected officials about the need for federal support for afterschool and summer learning programs.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Obama