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Guest blog: New York governor proposes $35M in new afterschool funding

By Rachel Clark

By Chris Neitzey, Policy Director for New York’s statewide afterschool network, the New York State Network for Youth Success. Chris can be reached at

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit.

On Monday, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $35 million expansion that would offer 22,000 additional students access to state-funded afterschool programs. This pilot program would significantly expand afterschool programs in 16 cities that were indentified in 2016 as Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Areas.*

To put this proposal into context, New York State currently invests approximately $62 million directly into afterschool programs—the new pilot program will increase this investment by more than 50 percent.

Still, 22,000 new afterschool spaces will only go a small way toward meeting the needs of the estimated 1.1 million students across the state who still want access to a program. However, this investment is still significant in two ways.

First, if this proposal is included in the final state budget, which must be passed by April 1 according to state law, it will give 22,000 more New York students in high-poverty areas an opportunity to participate in an afterschool program as early as next school year.

Second, this would be the first large-scale state investment in afterschool since the 2008 recession, when funding was cut from $93 million in 2007-2008 to $57.4 million in 2014-2015. We’ve had some recent success over the past two years with getting smaller funding increases from the Legislature ($5 million in 2016), but Governor Cuomo’s proposal shows a clear recognition of the important role that afterschool programs play in helping combat poverty in low-income communities and in closing the achievement gap.

After years of advocacy by the Network and field on the importance of afterschool programs in keeping kids safe, helping working families, and supporting academic achievement, among other benefits, this is a welcome proposal and one that is much needed in New York. This was also proposed as a pilot program, so there is interest in expanding it if deemed successful. 

Over the next week, advocates in New York and across the country will be paying close attention to the release of the Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal. In it we should learn more about what the program will look like and the specific language laying out how it will be implemented.

In the meantime, the Network for Youth Success and our partners across the state will be gearing up to make sure this proposal becomes a reality on April 1, 2017.

*Those cities are Albany, the Bronx, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Hempstead, Jamestown, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy, Utica, and Watertown.

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Previewing the 115th Congress: What does it mean for afterschool?

By Erik Peterson

As 2016 comes to a close, so too does the 114th Congress. The 115th Congress will be called into session at noon on January 3 and will mark the first time in six years that the United States is under a unified government, meaning that the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the Presidency, are all under the control of the same party, the Republicans. What might the 115th Congress mean for afterschool programs and the children and parents they support?

New leadership

The new Congress will bring new leadership for several key committees that have jurisdiction over education policy and education spending. In the House of Representatives, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) has retired and the new Chairperson will be Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) will stay on as Ranking Member. House Appropriations Committee leadership changed as well, with new Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) taking over for Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who was term-limited out of the chairmanship. Ranking Member (and Afterschool Caucus co-chair) Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) will continue in her previous role in the 115th Congress.

On the Senate side, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) remain as leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP). Chairman Thad Cochran (R-TN) is staying on as Committee Chairman for the Senate Appropriations Committee with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) taking over for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) as Ranking Member.

New challenges within the appropriations process

Friends of afterschool should closely follow the FY 2017 and FY 2018 appropriations cycles beginning early in 2017. With the continuing resolution authorizing federal spending at current 2016 fiscal year spending levels set to expire on April 28, 2017, finalizing the FY 2017 spending bill will be a key priority early in the 115th Congress. Constraints on available funding include discretionary spending caps that limit available funds as well as competing priorities outside of the education arena in areas like infrastructure and health. In late spring, Congress will also have to initiate the FY 2018 spending process, which will be even more challenging given the return of the sequester cuts after a two-year negotiated hiatus.

Making your voice heard early and often next year will be critical to educating the new Congress on the many valuable outcomes of local afterschool and summer learning programs. Use our action center to share your thoughts on the appropriations process and its impact on afterschool with your member of Congress to ensure that no cuts are made late in the fiscal cycle next year.   



Update: Congress passes second stop-gap funding bill

By Erik Peterson

Update, December 13: Both chambers of Congress passed a short-term stopgap spending bill last week to avoid a government shutdown that would have occurred at midnight last Friday, December 9. The continuing resolution (CR) is the second such measure passed this year and will fund the government through April 28, 2017.

Original post, December 8:

This week, the House of Representatives released the text of a new short-term continuing resolution (CR) that Congress must pass by this Friday, December 9th to avoid a government shutdown. The CR will maintain the federal government’s current funding level through April 28, 2017. This second CR will pick up where the first one, passed in late September, left off.  This means that funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers will be maintained at the current level for another four months.

In April, lawmakers must negotiate a final spending bill in order to keep the government operating through the end of FY17 on September 30, 2017. This will likely take the form of either a third CR or an omnibus spending bill.

Some conservative Members of Congress are urging their leadership to enact cuts to domestic discretionary l spending levels in any final bill that is passed next year. If these efforts are successful and the final spending bill appropriates less money than FY16  spending levels, it will likely result in fewer children attending local afterschool and summer learning programs that leverage federal support through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and the Child Care Development Block Grant.

Make your voice heard: use our action center to share your thoughts on the appropriations process and its impact on afterschool with your member of Congress to ensure that no cuts are made late in the fiscal cycle next year.

The CR also includes provisions that will be of interest to summer learning programs operating the Summer Meals program—namely, it includes funding to maintain both the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer food program for low-income children who get meals at school during the academic year and the Child Nutrition Information Clearinghouse.   

Congress is expected to wind up much of their work by next week and will officially convene the 115th Congress on January 3rd.



5 opportunities for afterschool in new Department of Education regulations for ESSA

By Jillian Luchner

President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

On November 29th, the Department of Education issued final regulations on accountability, school support, data reporting, and consolidated state plan provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The regulations strengthen the voices of afterschool advocates who recognize the importance of being included in state plans by reinforcing the importance of stakeholder involvement, awareness of equitable resources, and state and local flexibility in decision making.

The new regulations responded to more than 20,000 comments on the draft regulations (including a submission by the Afterschool Alliance), in some cases clarifying the law, in other cases explaining the decision to not take action, and occasionally suggesting that more information would come in the form of non-regulatory guidance. We’ve identified the following five areas in the regulations where afterschool may play a major role.

1. Accountability

What the law says: The regulations emphasize “working closely with stakeholders to choose evidence based interventions that are tailored to local needs.” The new law also requires states to choose one or more indicators of school quality or student success (like student engagement or chronic absenteeism, for example), which will factor into the overall school score that is reported to parents under the accountability system. The regulations require that these indicators, also known as 5th indicators, have a research base tying them to student learning and achievement, such as improved GPAs, credit accumulation, graduation rates, college enrollment or career success.

Where afterschool fits in: Afterschool programs are a proven way to support students in academics, engagement and behavior. Afterschool advocates should ensure that state and local superintendents and school boards are aware of the research on afterschool’s role in boosting academic achievement and student success. The afterschool field is a well-positioned partner in supporting students and the school system under this section of the law.

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learn more about: Department of Education ESEA


Who is Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos?

By Erik Peterson

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump announced the selection of Michigan philanthropist and education activist Betsy DeVos as his nominee for education secretary. DeVos is an advocate for school choice, including private school voucher programs, and is a past chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan.

DeVos is expected to go through the confirmation process in the Senate early next year. Little is known about her position on education issues; however, she has reportedly kept quiet about Common Core, which President-elect Trump heavily criticized during the campaign. She has served as chairwoman of the board of the Alliance for School Choice and heads the All Children Matter Political Action Committee, which she and her husband founded in 2003 to promote school vouchers, tax credits to businesses that give private school scholarships, and candidates who support these causes.

Her other activities on behalf of public-school reform have included membership on the boards of directors of  Advocates for School Choice, the American Education Reform Council, and the Education Freedom Fund. She has chaired the boards of Choices for Children and Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), and is chair of the American Federation for Children (AFC), which describes itself as "a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs."

DeVos also serves on the board the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an organization connected with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush that envisions an education system capable of maximizing every student's potential for learning and preparing them for success in the 21st century. 



ESSA offers opportunities for the arts

By Elizabeth Tish

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) officially replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as the guiding, major federal education law in December of 2015. Since implementing ESSA takes time, ESSA’s changes will start taking effect during the 2017-18 school year. ESSA includes several opportunities for states and local school districts to utilize flexible federal funds to provide students with afterschool and summer learning programs, STEM learning, physical activity, and arts education.   

The Arts Education Partnership, working with the Education Commission of the States, recently released ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts. The new resource can help school and community based afterschool providers and advocates understand how ESSA opportunities can support arts education that contributes to a well-rounded student education.  

Opportunities for the arts in Title I programs

The programs of ESSA's Title I, Part A are designed to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. The evidence-based programs supported by Title I funds assist students who are academically at risk, and these programs help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and those who enjoy more resources. There are many opportunities to include arts education opportunities that help achieve these goals in Title I, Part A:

State plans. Each state must submit an accountability plan to the Department of Education each year, including at least one indicator of school quality or student success beyond student achievement, graduation rates and English proficiency. This means that states could choose to include an arts-related indicator, such as the number of arts course offerings, the percentage of high school students enrolled in arts courses that provide postsecondary credit, or the proportion of certified arts educators to students.

Local Education Agency (LEA) plans. To receive Title I funding, a district must submit a plan to the state education agency that describes how it will identify inequities in educational opportunities and help close the achievement gap for all students, including a description of how the district will provide a well-rounded education. A district can choose to provide a description of its arts education programs and the role of those programs in providing all students a well-rounded education. LEAs can opt to use their Title I Part A funds to support out of school arts programming as well. 

Schoolwide Programs. To be eligible for schoolwide program funds, schools must have at least 40 percent of their students identified as coming from low-income families and create a schoolwide plan which embraces whole school reform. As a part of a well-rounded education, these plans may incorporate the arts as strategies to provide all students the opportunity to achieve.

Targeted assistance schools. Schools that do not meet the poverty threshold for schoolwide programs can use Title I funding to create programs targeted to help academically at-risk students meet the state’s academic standards. The arts, as part of a well-rounded education, can be included as a potential strategy for meeting the objectives set by schools for the Targeted Assistance Schools programs, using the traditional school day or out-of-school time.

Parent and family engagement. Engaging the families of students is an important aspect of ESSA and appears in several areas of Title I. Examples of family engagement using the arts might include: incorporating arts programming in a back-to-school night, schools providing parents with expectations for their children in arts classes, or encouraging parents to work with their schools in developing schoolwide plans that value the arts as a strategy in closing the achievement gap.

To learn more about ESSA and the arts, read the full report and visit this webpage for additional resources on topics such as accountability, assessments, and state plans.  Have more questions about how ESSA affects afterschool? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions on 21st CCLC and ESSA.

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learn more about: ESEA Federal Policy Arts


Congress begins lame duck session to address spending bills and more

By Erik Peterson

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This week Congress resumed its 114th session a week after the Congressional and Presidential election. The so-called ‘lame duck’ session is expected to last through mid-December with a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. The exact agenda for the session is still somewhat unclear but a number of activities are expected to be addressed.

The top priority is ensuring the federal government remains funded after the current FY2017 continuing resolution expires on December 9, 2016. While previously it appeared Congress would pass an omnibus spending bill or mini-bus spending bills, it now looks like Congress will pass a second short-term continuing resolution instead, funding the government through March of 2017.

House Republicans pushed the decision not enact full-year funding bills but to instead pass another continuing resolution (CR) through the end of March – half-way through the 2017 fiscal year.  President-elect Trump is reported to have favored this approach, which will let the Republican Congress and President finalize the remaining 11 appropriations bills, including the bill funding education programs. Senate Democrats and President Obama have reportedly signaled that they would accept a new CR if it was “clean” of policy riders. This second CR could include more changes in funding for specific programs (known as anomalies) and a different across-the-board cut to keep total funding under the defense and non-defense caps.  The final Labor-HHS-Education bill funding the second half of the year may look similar or very different from the ones approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees earlier this year. 

What does this mean for afterschool?

Funding for afterschool programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would be subject to the across the board funding cut in the new CR. Funding levels for these programs in the final spending bill in March when Congress takes up spending again will be uncertain. 

Additional legislation relevant to afterschool programs that could be considered during the lame duck include reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. All three of these have bipartisan versions alive in the Senate or House but would need additional work and time to advance to the President’s desk. Currently it appears none of these measures have the momentum needed to pass.  

Also during first week of the lame duck session, newly elected members of Congress participated in new member orientation, and House and Senate leadership for the 115th Congress was elected. Some committee assignments and leadership posts have begun to be posted as well. Among the changes so far, the new Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Committee will be Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) replacing retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).  Sen. Patty Murray (D0WA) will continue as both Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member and LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member. 

You can make an impact by introducing yourself to officials who have just been elected in your community. Use the sample letter available in our election kit to begin cultivating these lawmakers as allies for your afterschool program and plant the seeds of a valuable partnership.



Guest blog: How the election played out at the state level

By Robert Abare

Written by Ashley Wallace, Program Manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures

The Minnesota State Capitol. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In the past week since Election Day, the top of the ticket has certainly garnered a lot of attention and discussion. However, state legislative races and state ballot initiatives also made their mark, as voters in 35 states decided 154 statewide ballot measures and chose from among more than 10,000 candidates seeking state legislative seats.

Republicans will control 66 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers. Democrats will control 30 chambers and one chamber will be tied. The New York Senate is still undecided. This means Republicans will control both chambers in 32 states, which is an all-time high for the party. Democrats will control both chambers in 13 states and three states will split control or be tied. Overall, turnover in the state legislatures this election was about 25 percent, which is about average.

Here are the chambers that changed hands

Three chambers switched from Democratic to Republican control:

  • Kentucky House
  • Iowa Senate
  • Minnesota Senate

Four chambers switched from Republican to Democratic control:

  • New Mexico House
  • Nevada Assembly
  • Nevada Senate
  • Washington Senate (Republicans, however, will have functional control as one Democrat will caucus with the Republicans.)

And one chamber, the Connecticut Senate, will be tied.

There are also a few chambers across the country who have a more complicated future. The Alaska House will be governed by a coalition that gives Democrats functional control of the chamber, despite Republicans leading the chamber numerically. And Democrats now control every seat in the Hawaii Senate, the first time one party has completely controlled a chamber since 1980. However, the big takeaway of the legislative races is that Republicans exceeded expectations in a year when many expected Democrats to net seats and chambers.

Republicans entered the elections having 31 governors and managed to pick up three by winning in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. This will mean the most Republican Governors since 1998. Republican pickups in governor’s races means fewer states under split control. Republicans will have full control of state government in 24 states, Democrats will have full control in six and only 17 states will split control.

The outlook on education and afterschool

There are a few education-related approved ballot initiatives that may be of note to the afterschool field. Oregon passed Measure 98, requiring the legislature to fund dropout prevention and career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools, and Measure 99, creating a fund to provide outdoor school programs statewide through the Oregon Lottery Economic Development. Meanwhile, Mainers approved a new 3 percent income tax for incomes of more than $200,000, with revenues going to K-12 education.

Finally, those in the afterschool field may recognize Nebraska’s newly elected state senator, Anna Wishart. Ms. Wishart is a former White-Riley-Peterson fellow.

For more state-focused election analysis, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures. To read more on how the 2016 election will affect education policy and afterschool, see the Afterschool Snack's breakdown of Donald Trump's record on education, and what to expect from his administration and the 115th Congress.

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