Rural communities face many unique challenges when it comes to caring for their children. From transportation to lack of community resources to hunger, there are very specific needs that must be considered by organizations serving children in rural America.
Afterschool programs are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of young people in rural communities, offering a safe, enriching place, meals and caring adults. But currently it is difficult for rural programs to piece together enough funding to meet the vast need for programs. That’s why the Afterschool Alliance, along with 78 local, state and national organizations, is working with Congress to create a funding stream specifically for afterschool programs in rural communities.
Introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), in the Senate and Representatives Hare (D-IL) and Luetkemeyer (R-MO) in the House, the Investment in Afterschool Programs Act, will enhance afterschool programs in rural communities across the United States. View a one page fact sheet on the bill.
Jodi Grant, Executive Director for the Afterschool Alliance: “One-fifth of the nation’s children attend public schools in rural communities – areas that persistently have the highest poverty rates, and where children often face social isolation, lack of positive role models and scarce opportunities. Afterschool programs are vitally important because they create opportunities that help children in rural communities realize their full potential. We strongly support this legislation, and thank Senator Lincoln for championing it."
The bill calls for a pilot program to establish or improve rural afterschool programs. If passed and funded, the bill will grant $25,000 or more to education agencies, community-based organizations, or other public or nonprofit organizations for a period of no less than three years. The funds could be used for transportation, professional development and training, access to technology, staffing and planning grants, or to invest in projects or other activities needed to create or strengthen rural afterschool programs.
Funding for the program over a 5-year period would begins with $25 million in FY2010, $50 million in FY2011 and such sums as are necessary in FY2012 through FY2014.
- Grant funds would allow rural programs to overcome barriers to service and meet a variety of needs, including transportation; professional development and training; access to technology; recruitment and retention of staff; and planning grants.
- The grants would be administered by the Department of Agriculture and would prioritize programs with high percentages of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches.
- To encourage partnerships within the community between public and private entities, grant priority would also be given to applicants with existing partnerships.
- To advance student academic achievement and promote positive youth development, eligible programs would provide services such as academic enrichment; youth development activities; drug and violence prevention programs; counseling programs; art and music; physical fitness and recreation programs; technology education programs; character education programs and service-learning programs.
- To maintain their physical well-being and help provide youth with skills and knowledge they can adopt to live a healthier life, eligible programs would be required to provide a nutritious snack or meal that meets the nutrition standards set by the USDA.
- The bill also provides funds for evaluation and dissemination of best practices for serving children and youth in rural areas.
In conjunction with Save the Children, the American Association of School Administrators and the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition, the Afterschool Alliance is submitting a letter to the bill sponsors signed by over 70 local, state and national organizations demonstrating the wide range of support for this critical legislation.
Read more on afterschool programs in rural areas:
Financing and Sustaining Out-of-School Time Programs in Rural Communities
Strategies for Improving Out-of-School Programs in Rural Communities
Afterschool Programs: Helping Kids Succeed in Rural America