By Robert Abare
On Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, the 15th annual Afterschool for All Challenge brought more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country to Washington, D.C. for two days of learning, advocating, and celebrating out-of-school time programs. Thanks to the collaboration and enthusiasm of these participants—supported by messages to Congress sent from advocates nationwide—this year's Challenge was a huge success!
Here are the amazing accomplishments of this year's Challenge:
- More than 150 participants from 36 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
- More than 160 visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, many of which were attended by Members of Congress.
- Workshops on the latest in afterschool, including child nutrition reauthorization, advocacy during election season, and afterschool in rural America.
- A panel discussion and Q&A with staffers of Members of Congress who played a key role in supporting afterschool programs in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
- An Afterschool Showcase on Capitol Hill, featuring performances and demonstrations by local and national afterschool programs, and remarks by Senators and Representatives who championed out-of-school time programs in Congress.
- Nearly 800 messages sent to Congress by participants of the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge.
|Afterschool advocates from Alaska meet with their Congressman, Don Young (second from R) in his office.|
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA-11), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-01), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) attended the Afterschool Showcase to receive “Afterschool Hero” capes, a unique way to thank them for their heroic support of afterschool and summer learning programs in Congress.
Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant explained to the attendees of the Afterschool Showcase how these Members played a crucial role in preserving 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) as an independent funding stream within ESSA, thereby protecting thousands of 21st CCLC programs that serve millions of kids and families nationwide.
By meeting with Members of Congress and their staff and sharing powerful stories of the ways out-of-school programs benefit communities, this year's Challenge participants will hopefully draft yet more afterschool "heroes" in Congress, and ensure that 21st CCLC remains strong and secure for years to come.
It’s not too late to take the Challenge!
While meetings with afterschool advocates are still fresh in the minds of Members of Congress and their staff, now is an excellent time to keep the momentum going and send a message to your representatives. As Congress enters appropriations season—and with the fate of 21st CCLC funding levels on the line—every voice for afterschool and summer learning programs can make a difference!