Federal Afterschool Policy

From afterschool funding streams to expanded learning to STEM, federal policy plays a big role in the afterschool landscape. Learn more about some of the most important federal initiatives impacting afterschool, as well as the latest federal policy developments.

For the latest update on federal afterschool policy, see Policy News


21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs.  Learn about its funding history, program outcomes and the types of programs supported by this initiative. 

Current Federal Afterschool Legislation can be accessed on the Afterschool Alliances website. In addition to all House and Senate bills currently under consideration that include an afterschool element, the web page provides links to full bill text, summaries and bill co-sponsorship information.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now "ESSA" is the law authorizing education programs, including 21st CCLC, Title I and other initiatives that support afterschool programs.  ESEA, formerly No Child Left Behind (NCLB), was reuthorized in December 2015 as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The new law provides new opportunities for afterschool programs, community partners, and local input to support student learning. Learn more on how to be involved and informed.

Expanded Learning is a key issue in ESEA reauthorization and in the out of school time field. Expanded learning time (ELT) - adding time to the school day, week or year - is a relatively new approach to expanded learning opportunities. Find resources and policy documents on this topic here.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Afterschool Considering over 80% of the fastest growing occupations will require STEM literacy and skills, building our youth’s proficiency in STEM is critical to ensure our shared prosperity. The exploratory, supportive and flexible nature of afterschool makes it a natural fit for incorporating STEM skills into a child’s development.  In this section you can get the latest in STEM afterschool policy, resources, allies and more. Learn how to make the case for afterschool STEM with talking points and other resources from The Afterschool STEM Hub.

Career Pathways Afterschool and summer programs partner across communities to introduce students to their passions, develop their employability skills and set them on pathways into 21st Century careers. Learn more about the developing field and how federal policy helps support these efforts.

Older Youth and Afterschool: Partnering to Improve Results As the nation struggles to improve high school achievement and prepare the next generation for college and the 21st century workforce, it is clear that older youth in the middle grades are critical. More time is often needed to ensure that students are prepared during these transition years for long-term success. The Afterschool Alliance has research and policy efforts aimed at securing more support for afterschool programs serving older youth.

Afterschool in Rural Communities: The Investment in Afterschool Programs Act  Afterschool programs are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of young people in rural communities.  That’s why the Afterschool Alliance is working with Congress to create a funding stream specifically for afterschool programs in rural communities.

Active Hours Afterschool provides tools and information on afterschool and healthy lifestyles, including local wellness policies and partnership opportunities.  Progams can play an important role in promoting health, from physical activity to healthy snacks, and are therefore well-positioned to be key partners in health initiatives. The Afterschool Alliance is working to increase support and opportunities for afterschool programs to be involved in these efforts.