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State afterschool policy update

While Congress remains stalled with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the 2015 budget appropriations process; states and localities are experiencing considerable momentum. Among the jurisdictions making progress in advancing funding and policy for afterschool programs are Washington, D.C., New York state and California:

  • In Washington, D.C., the city council recently passed their FY2015 budget, including a modest increase in the D.C. Public Schools Out-of-School Time Program to support afterschool and summer learning programs, resulting in a total funding level of $8.4 million. Funding to support community-based organizations providing expanded learning programming was held stable and includes $10 million for 21st Century Community Learning Center grants and $3 million for the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation. The D.C. community schools initiative was funded at $500,000. 
  • In New York state last week the governor announced awardees for the first round of Extended Learning Time grants, while in New York City the mayor recently released details of a $145 million expansion of middle school afterschool programs as well as $52 million for the development of 40 community schools. The $24 million Extended Learning Time grants were awarded to nine school districts statewide, including NYC. The state Department of Education has posted a list of the winners on its website. The $52 million grant to launch the development of 40 innovative community schools will match comprehensive social services and learning programs with 40 high-need public schools across NYC. Coupled with pre-K for every child and expanded afterschool programs for middle school students, the mayor pledged to make community schools a key component of transforming the education system and lifting up every child.
  • In California last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced 333 programs will receive a combined $51 million in state and federal grants to provide expanded learning opportunities for students to bolster student learning outside of the regular school hours. In the latest round of funding, $51 million was distributed through three grants: the After School Education and Safety program, the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers—Elementary & Middle Schools program, and the state 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens program. More information on the awarded grants can be accessed through the California Department of Education’s Before & After School webpage. 
Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: 21st CCLC Budget ESEA Legislation State Policy Sustainability

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passes Senate, strengthens supports for youth

Last week the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The bipartisan, bicameral bill seeks to improve the nation’s workforce development system. As discussed in a previous blog, the legislation focuses in part on providing comprehensive supports and programming for out-of-school young people. Those provisions from Title I of WIOA include:

  • Expanding the definition of out-of-school youth to encompass young people ages 16 to 24 who are not attending school, have dropped out of school, and face extensive barriers to work and to completing their education. Title I targets 75 percent of youth funds to provide services for out-of-school youth.
  • Addresses eligibility issues that can make it difficult for local areas to develop comprehensive, cross-system approaches to serve youth who are most in need. Title I does so by expanding the definition of low-income individuals to include those who receive or are eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunches and adding an expansive definition for individuals with a barrier to employment. Title I also incorporates a special rule that allows young people living in high-poverty areas to be deemed eligible for services.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of youth funds (20 percent) to support work experiences for low-income and vulnerable young people.
Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Youth Development

Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate

This week Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals ActS. 2527, which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs, making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program, addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities and by providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.

Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.


My Brother's Keeper Task Force reports back to the president

In late February, Pres. Obama appointed a high-level task force to oversee his new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative “to develop a coordinated federal effort to improve significantly the expected life outcomes for boys and young men of color.” Recently the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force released a report on their first 90 days of actions, including key recommendations for the initiative moving forward.

Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the president’s task force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans through online and in-person listening sessions, including a number of afterschool and summer learning providers.  Cities and towns, businesses, foundations, faith leaders and individuals have made commitments to helping youth get a strong start in school and life and later connect them to mentoring, support networks and specialized skills they need to find a good job or go to college.

The 90-day report laid out cross-cutting recommendations, seven broad themes and specific recommendations.  The importance of afterschool is highlighted in the specific recommendations, which call for expansion of effective afterschool and summer programs to accelerate socio-emotional and academic learning and health.  The recommendations also call for a public-private campaign to recruit high-quality, sustained mentors—an important component of many afterschool programs.  Details on the recommendations are below. 

Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Afterschool Voices Equity Federal Policy Media Outreach Obama Youth Development

Bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act proposed in Congress

Late last month, a bipartisan group of law makers in the House and Senate introduced the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bill that would reauthorize and update the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and eliminate duplicative programs, improve reporting requirements and develop a set of common performance measures.

With regard to youth programs, WIOA would:

  • Require 75 percent of youth funding to support out-of-school youth, of which 20 percent is prioritized for "work-based activities." This would include funding career pathways development, dropout recovery efforts, skills training, and education and training leading to a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • Provide youth with disabilities the services and support they need to be successful in competitive, integrated employment.
  • Reauthorize the YouthBuild program; stipulating an independent evaluation of activities is conducted at least every four years for the purposes of improving the management and effectiveness of related programs and activities. The bill includes language that also allows the YouthBuild program to expand into additional in-demand industry sectors or occupations specific to its region, in recognition of the "changing demands of the economy."
Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Congress Federal Funding Legislation Youth Development

Experts to share the latest afterschool research and outcomes at Congressional briefing

We know the achievement gap is real—73 percent of fourth graders scoring below the 25th percentile in math are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch. Now we have research that offers a solution: participating in afterschool activities—consistently across the elementary school grades—improves the math achievement of children from low-income families. In fact, taking part in these programs can help eliminate the gap in math achievement between low-income and high-income children by grade five.

Tomorrow, Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine, will present this latest research to an audience of Congressional staff and policy professionals as part of a special briefing co-hosted by the Afterschool Alliance and the Expanded Learning Project. The briefing will feature both research and examples on how participation in afterschool programs is linked to overall improvements in academic achievement, reductions in school absences and improvements in behavioral outcomes.

Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Advocacy Afterschool Champions Congress Equity Evaluations Events and Briefings

Thanks for making #3to6 Day a success!

On March 26 (3/26) more than 3 million parents, young people and supporters of afterschool were reached through an online campaign that raised awareness about the value of afterschool programs and called for Congressional support of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act: S. 326 and HR 4086. 

Every afternoon between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. children nationwide should have the opportunity to participate in engaging afterschool programs that support their learning and development and spark their passions and creativity.  In recognition of the afterschool hours of opportunity from 3 to 6 p.m., on 3/26 friends of afterschool programs took to their social media networks to promote afterschool and build support for the Afterschool for America’s Children Act. 

The bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326 and HR 4086—led by Sens. Boxer, Murkowski and Murray in the Senate and by Reps. Kildee and DeLauro in the House—would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs—by supporting innovative advances that support student success.

Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: Advocacy ESEA Inside the Afterschool Alliance Legislation Media Outreach

It's appropriations season: 2015 appropriations process continues in House and Senate

With the House and Senate each passing their own budget resolutions last month, and the president’s budget request submitted to Congress earlier this month, the FY2014 appropriations process can now move forward.  A challenge for Congress early in the process is trying to reconcile the House and Senate FY2014 budget bills.  Reconciling the two is a difficult prospect as the Senate resolution has $92 billion more than the House does to fund programs.
Despite the differences, House and Senate appropriations committees have begun holding hearings on the FY2014 spending bills, including Labor, HHS, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearings featuring testimony by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  At the House subcommittee hearing in early April, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) emphasized the importance of  maintaining strong investments in afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC)  initiative and cautioned against diverting federal afterschool funding.  As part of her formal statement, LHHS Subcommittee Ranking Member DeLauro addressed the need for an increase in funding while also noting her concerns with the Administration’s proposed changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative:
Read Afterschool Snack blog entries about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress ESEA Federal Funding