You took the Challenge, and Congress listened!

by Robert Abare

Yesterday, May 24, and on Monday, May 23, the 15th annual Afterschool for All Challenge brought over 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:

  • Over 150 participants from 36 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Over 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.

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 support of afterschool and summer learning programs in Congress. Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant explained to the attendees of the Showcase how these Members played a crucial role in preserving 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) as an independent funding stream within ESSA.

It’s not too late to join the action!

While meetings with afterschool advocates are still fresh in the mind 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 on the line—every voice for afterschool and summer learning programs can make a difference. 

© 2013 Afterschool Alliance