On April 10, the Afterschool Alliance released a letter signed by 139 national and more than 1,000 state and local organizations, calling on House and Senate appropriators to fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative at or above its current level of $1.167 billion and reject President Trump’s call to end federal funding for afterschool programs.
Also on Monday, Representatives Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) sent a bipartisan Dear Colleague letter signed by 81 members of Congress to House Appropriations Committee leaders Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) with a similar message, calling for “funding of no less than $1.167 billion” for Community Learning Centers. The letter was applauded by afterschool advocates and the Afterschool Alliance.
Inside the sign-on letter
“Quality afterschool and summer learning programs are vital to communities across the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant in releasing the organizational letter. “The idea that the federal government would abandon the students and families that rely on afterschool is unthinkable. President Trump’s misguided proposal to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers has triggered a tidal wave of opposition that’s reflected by the diverse and powerful voices that are calling on Congress to continue—or increase—federal funding for afterschool. This funding directly supports afterschool programs for 1.6 million children across the country.”
National signatories of the letter include youth-serving organizations, education groups, and organizations focused on hunger, fitness, gender equity, health, the arts, and law enforcement, among others. The list was signed by the American Federation of Teachers, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, FBI National Academies, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Association of State Boards of Education, National School Boards Association, National Education Association, National League of Cities, National PTA, National Rural Education Association, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, STEM Education Coalition, United Way Worldwide, and YMCA of the USA.
The list of state and local organizational signatories is similarly broad, with signers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The letter is addressed to the chairs and ranking members of key appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate.
The organizations wrote, “In every state and almost every Congressional district, 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding supports afterschool and summer learning programs that offer locally based school and community solutions that keep children and teenagers safe, inspire young people to learn and support working families.”
Inside the Dear Colleague letter
In the Dear Colleague letter to appropriators in the House, the 81 signing representatives called for at least level funding of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, citing a meta-analysis of 75 separate studies which showed that afterschool students demonstrated improved behavior and performed better academically than students who did not participate in afterschool.
The letter also mentioned the impact programs have on the workforce: “More and more working families rely on 21st Century Community Learning Centers each year to ensure their children are in a safe environment during non-school hours, allowing them to excel in their jobs.”
In the face of a dire threat from the White House, this outpouring of support is encouraging to the afterschool field.
“It’s clear from these two letters that policymakers, educators, parents and a wide variety of organizations, including those focused on health, law enforcement, science education, arts and more, recognize the tremendous value afterschool programs provide,” said Grant. “The president’s proposal to eliminate Community Learning Centers doesn’t have any more traction around the country than it does here in Washington. It is up to Congress to make sure the federal budget reflects this clearly expressed demand for continued, even increased, federal support for afterschool.”
Last year, a similar congressional letter was signed by 40 members. This year’s 81 signatures show a doubling of congressional support for Community Learning Centers, which Trump’s February budget outline put on the chopping block.
Members of Congress (find yours here) are on recess and back in their home states and districts. It’s a great time to contact them about the importance of before-school, afterschool, and summer programming to you and you community.
There are lots of ways to get in touch with your representatives and show your support: send your representatives a letter or an email, post on social media, make a phone call, pay a visit to their local office, talk to them at town hall meetings or press events, or invite them to come and see your local program at work. You can also write to your local newspaper or TV station, since lawmakers will be sure to catch up on the local news while at home.
With big budget decisions on the horizon, the voices your representatives hear now and their frequency, diversity, and strength are more critical than ever before. The letters and calls in support of afterschool are streaming in and the strategy is working to influence policymakers. Add your voice and personal story to the chorus. 2017 is an important year for the children, families, and communities who need affordable quality afterschool!
On April 5, leaders in education, business, media, government, sports, and more gathered at the University of Southern California for the 2017 National Afterschool Summit, “Ready to Work,” co-hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute, and After-School All-Stars. High-wattage speakers brought their diverse backgrounds and perspectives to a series of engaging discussions about how afterschool prepares students to succeed at work and in life.
With so many powerful insights shared by an impressive roster of experts, it was hard to narrow the list of highlights, but here are ten of our favorite moments from the event:
- The Bell Gardens Intermediate and Generation Dance Team kicked off the event, led by their teacher and mayor, Jose Mendoza. Taking the stage after the performance, Extra’s Mario Lopez said he was an afterschool kid like the dancers, who come from a low-income community: “That was me... I’m living proof of what afterschool can do.”
- Matt Iseman, host of American Ninja Warrior and winner of The New Celebrity Apprentice, called us “Afterschool Ninja Warriors” and cheered on our efforts to battle President Trump’s proposed budget cut. Iseman commented, “Working parents are more productive at work when they know their kids are in a safe, productive environment.”
- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set the tone for the event, reminding us that more than 20 million kids are waiting for an afterschool program.
- NFL star JJ Watt, whose foundation provides afterschool opportunities to middle schoolers, shared that afterschool programs teach skills like teamwork and how to work hard. As Watt pointed out, these skills are not only important in school, but also in work and life.
- Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, discussed the reason afterschool and work are connected—and why employers should care about afterschool: "We want a diverse, educated workforce domestically. Afterschool can have a huge impact on that."
- Senate Afterschool Caucus co-chair Senator Lisa Murkowski stopped by via video message to encourage us all to reach out to our representatives in Congress and share the message that #AfterschoolWorks.
- Oregon Superintendent of the Year Heidi Sipe said, “Afterschool helps students dream new dreams… see a different future… Afterschool is a magical time. It is nonnegotiable.”
- “Afterschool makes a difference in the economic mobility of families and kids,” said Charlotte (N.C.) Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
- American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Gerard Robinson noted that afterschool helps kids “build minds, bodies, and spirits,” and the social capital skills kids need to succeed.
- Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, touched on the reason for the event, saying, "Afterschool programs aren't just for academic preparation, but life preparation."
These are just a few highlights from the event. Relive the event by watching the full recording of the Summit, or check out what people said about the event on Twitter. Share your favorite moments with us using the hashtag #AfterschoolWorks!
By Luci Manning
The Afterschool Alliance and more than 1,400 organizations send a letter to Congress this week urging representatives to reject President Trump’s budget proposal that would eliminate funding for afterschool programs. The budget cuts would affect some 6,000 Hawaii students. “We would like (Congress) to put the 21st Century (program) back into the budget,” Afterschool Ambassador Paula Adams told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “Afterschool programs… are making a huge difference in our children’s lives and they are proving to be effective in who our children are in general.”
The Salisbury Daily Times editorial board argues that afterschool programs turn children into better students and better citizens, pushing back on the idea that afterschool programs don’t improve academic performance. They write: “Anyone, including the president, who thinks keeping fed and supervised after the school day ends is a waste of federal tax dollars, is sadly mistaken. ... The programs threatened by the president's proposed budget provide academic enrichment, supervised STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, arts and social experiences, homework assistance, nutrition and socialization opportunities. They help youngsters develop skills they need to grow, learn and become productive, responsible citizens. Isn't that what we want, as a community?”
In an op-ed for the Plain Dealer, Annemarie Grassi, CEO of the afterschool program Open Doors Academy, details the effectiveness of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program: “Teachers report substantial progress in homework completion and overall behavior. Strong improvements have been documented for mathematics grades (36.5 percent), English grades (36.8 percent), and state tests in elementary reading and high school math. Given that many of the young people enrolling in the programs enter with notable academic deficits, these outcomes are striking. ... The 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant program is characterized by high impact, financial efficiency, strong results, and a solid return on investment. ... We urge the president to protect 21st Century funding and thereby stand behind an initiative that truly works – for everybody.”
About 600 to 700 Fremont Public School students could lose access to afterschool programs under President Trump’s budget proposal. The programs work to narrow the achievement gap and provide academic enrichment in coordination with the school curriculum, particularly helping lower-income students who may not have access to beneficial extracurricular activities. “We are giving kids the opportunities to participate in these activities and a lot of our teachers express that each year they see achievement from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year raise in subjects like math and reading specifically,” Leah Hladik, program director of Fremont Expanded Learning Opportunities, told the Fremont Tribune.
By Y-USA Achievement Gap Programs Evaluation Team.
The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the fourth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which turns to program providers in the field to answer some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the first, second, and third posts of the series.
|Photo courtesy of Lori Humphreys, VP of Child Care, YMCA Of East Tennessee.|
At YMCA of the USA, our Achievement Gap Programs evaluation team provides a comprehensive evaluation strategy, training, tools, and support to hundreds of local Ys doing the important work of delivering Achievement Gap Signature Programs to thousands of children. The Achievement Gap Afterschool Program has expanded to over 130 sites since it began in the 2012-2013 school year and is currently serving over 7,000 children across the nation.
Organization leadership, funders, and community partners are often eager to see the data that comes out of program evaluation, and it is not uncommon for organizations to need additional guidance and resources to start the data collection process. We'd like to share what we think are data collection essentials for this important and possibly overwhelming part of the evaluation process.
The first step is for the program’s primary stakeholders to define program goals and benchmarks. Identifying the questions that should be answered about the program helps to focus on what matters most for the program.
Before you start
- Be organized: Develop a plan from start to finish before diving into the data collection process. How will data be collected? What tools will be used to collect data? Who will do the data collection, entry, and analyses? How will the data be reported? Include a general timeline for each activity in the plan.
- Be realistic: As a data collection plan is developed, be realistic about the resources you can dedicate to the project and plan accordingly. When you can, simplify.
- Be clear: All data collection processes should include a clear explanation for why the data is being collected and how the data will be protected and reported. Clarity of purpose ensures that staff, parents, and participants are fully informed on the program’s data collection practices.
- Be concise: When developing tools to collect data, stay focused on only gathering essential information that relates to goals or the questions stakeholders have agreed upon. Collecting information that you don’t plan to use takes up precious time when creating data collection tools, when users fill out the tools, and when the data is analyzed.
By Ron Ottinger, the director of STEM Next, co-chair of the national STEM Funders Network, and the former executive director of the Noyce Foundation. Known as a leader and expert in STEM learning, Ron has spent the last nine years guiding the Noyce foundations initiatives in informal and out-of-school-time science. With STEM Next, Ron continues to work toward increasing STEM learning opportunities for youth nationally.
This blog was reposted with permission from STEM Next.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would deny millions of American youth the opportunity to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning; inhibit the development of the nation’s future scientists, engineers, inventors, and business leaders; and cut young people off from building the skills they need to advance in school, work, citizenship, and life.
If enacted by Congress, the President’s budget would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the single largest source of funding for afterschool and summer programs that enroll 1.6 million students across rural, urban, and suburban communities in all 50 states.
Afterschool and summer programs provide essential learning opportunities for young people. This is particularly true when it comes to STEM learning – a national priority.
And afterschool programs have the support of an overwhelming number of Americans: a recent Quinnipiac poll found 83% are opposed to cuts in afterschool funding.
The Administration has said there is no evidence that these programs are effective. That is simply not true.
Salutations! My name is Charlotte Steinecke and I’m delighted to introduce myself as the new Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. It’s a privilege to join such a dedicated team united for a worthy cause, particularly at such a politically exciting moment.
As the significantly older stepsister to two school-age boys, I get to see firsthand the way a good afterschool program helps students and parents in so many different ways. Getting to take that personal investment and make it the subject of my work every day is a wonderful opportunity!
I come to the Afterschool Alliance from LivingSocial, where I was the editor on the travel vertical and worked closely with the marketing team. I’ve also worked at various nonprofits and corporate entities in D.C., including the Association of American Medical Colleges and ThinkFoodGroup. I’m a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and an indefatigable proponent of holistic—and exceptional!—education at all levels.
As the Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance, I’ll be managing the Afterschool Snack blog (hello, audience! We’ll be seeing a lot of each other.) and providing communications and editorial support across the organization. I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the Alliance’s work supporting afterschool programs, providers, families, and students across the nation.
The recent national dialogue and policy landscape has exposed children of all ages to complex discussions about immigration, religion, diversity, safety, and community. In a climate of uncertainty, students can end up feeling frustrated, hurt, alienated, or confused if these often-taboo subjects are not confronted thoughtfully by adults.
Many tools of the trade exist to help students engage constructively and understand themselves, their peers, their community, and their country. When led by trained, well-equipped staff, afterschool and summer programs can provide ideal settings with the necessary time and structure for students to work through complex thoughts and emotions and develop their roles in safe and welcoming communities.
Over the next year, the Afterschool Alliance and a broad range of partners will present “Tools to Build On,” a webinar series of expert testimony, discussions, resources, and firsthand accounts on how to bring out and build up supportive climates during out-of-school time. The first four topics are:
- Supporting immigrant students, families, and communities: Best practices for afterschool programs interacting with immigrant students and families (Wednesday, April 12 at 2 p.m. EDT). Register now.
- Understanding and responding to identity-based bullying: Current frameworks and strategies for educators and youth bystanders (May 2017).
- Building community between police and youth: Working to build positive and productive relationships between children and teens and law enforcement (June 2017).
- Engaging the tough conversation: Learning the skills and tools to help students confront complex issues and feelings in a safe space (July 2017).
All kids deserve to feel welcome, valuable, and safe without exception. These four webinars are just a start, and we’ll be offering more webinars, practical tools, and resources in the coming year. Please join the Afterschool Alliance for this important series.
By Luci Manning
If President Trump’s budget were to pass, South Carolina afterschool and summer programs serving some 13,000 students would lose $16 million dollars in federal funding. Many of these programs are run out of high-poverty schools like Pepperhill Elementary in North Charleston, where more than 100 students stay after school to get homework help, enjoy a healthy meal, and work on science projects. The program has improved students’ test scores and academic achievement, and is also a huge help to working parents. “A lot of our parents are single parents who work two or three jobs,” assistant principal Jamie McCarthy told the Post and Courier. “Not being able to have this would be taxing not only to our children, but to our families.”
On Sunday, the Keene Sentinel editorial board noted its support for maintaining afterschool funding on the local and national level. They wrote: “[Afterschool programs] provide more than babysitting services. They provide additional structure to the day for students, and added learning opportunities and focused time to work on school assignments. They also often include physical activities at a time when childhood obesity is a growing concern. They even partner with other organizations to offer even more learning venues … with Trump proposing to cut 21st Century Community Learning Center grants … it’s going to be up to local boards and residents to determine whether they’ll fall by the wayside or continue to augment learning, provide social structure, and allow parents to work.”
Afterschool Ambassador Eric Vanden Heuvel made the case for afterschool funding in a letter to the editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: “It was astonishing to hear the budget chief say that there’s “no demonstrable evidence” that afterschool works ... Study after study has provided evidence that afterschool programs work. They help improve students’ grades and test scores. They help improve attendance and behavior during the regular school day, building blocks of future success. They help develop lifelong habits like physical activity and making healthy choices. They keep kids safe during a time of day when they might otherwise find trouble. They make it possible for their working parents to keep their jobs ... Federal support for afterschool is modest, but crucial. Congress should reject the president’s proposal to cut it.”
The Grand Rapids Board of Education expressed strong opposition to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to public education last week. The board plans to contact Michigan’s U.S. representatives and senators to urge them to reject the budget, which would strip more than $120 million for afterschool programs and teacher training from the state. Grand Rapids Board of Education President Tony Baker told the Grand Rapids Press that it’s the first time he can recall the district formally responding to a proposed federal budget.