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JUN
29
2017

POLICY
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Congressional hearing discusses the role of afterschool in workforce development

By Erik Peterson

On Thursday, June 15, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development convened a hearing titled, “Helping Americans Get Back to Work: Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).” Part of the conversation centered on the positive role of afterschool programs in helping develop student employability and life skills.

The hearing was held in conjunction with President Trump’s “Workforce Development Week” – an effort by the administration to highlight job training programs and apprenticeships. Despite the bipartisan praise of these programs, in the FY 2018 budget request, President Trump reduces the Department of Labor (DOL) budget by 21 percent, with significant cuts to job training and employment grants, JobCorps programs, and job training for seniors.

MAY
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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In coal country, afterschool's a lifeline for working families

By Charlotte Steinecke

Photo courtesy of Monongalia County Schools Extended Day in Morgantown.

While some areas have started to recover from the Great Recession, some of the hardest-hit states continue to struggle with sluggish wage growth and limited employment opportunities. One of those states is West Virginia, where 1 in 4 children are growing up in poverty and well-paying union jobs, especially in the coal industry, are becoming rare.

Last month we had the opportunity to hear from parents in West Virginia. Tommy G. is a single father of three hit by the downturn of the coal industry. In a nearby county, Chastity and Brennan took on longer hours and a second job after their incomes were cut. And in Fairmont, a family of eight juggles the many of demands of work and kids. What do these parents have in common? They rely on afterschool programs—and say losing afterschool would result in financial hardship and put their ability to work in jeopardy.

West Virginia’s strong demand for quality, affordable afterschool options is made clear by America After 3PM, which found that the rate of participation in West Virginia’s afterschool programs more than tripled between 2004 and 2014. Hardworking parents, many of whom make ends meet with two or more jobs, find support for their affordable childcare needs in the form of aftercare, free and reduced-price food, homework and academic assistance, and more.

MAY
23
2017

POLICY
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Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool funding is still on the chopping block.

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget is in, and it eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding completely. Despite an overwhelming display of support for afterschool from voters, communities, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, the White House remains committed to cutting the programs that kids and families rely on. 

When the budget cut was floated back in March, the reaction was swift and absolutely clear: 

  • More than 1,450 diverse organizations signed a letter calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject President Trump’s proposal and fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) at or above its current level of $1.167 billion.
  • Eighty-one members of Congress (twice as many as last year) signed a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging them not to cut afterschool funding.
  • Researchers across the ideological spectrum spoke out about the value of afterschool programs.
  • Highly respected institutions posted new research summaries demonstrating that afterschool programs provide tremendous benefits – as nearly every study has clearly shown.
  • A Quinnipiac national poll found that 83 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs, with just 14 supporting the administration’s position.
  • Congress provided a modest increase in Community Learning Center funding for the remainder of FY2017, enabling 25,000 more students across the nation to participate in afterschool programs.

As our executive director Jodi Grant put it, the budget cut would be “a stunning blow” to working families, “who count on afterschool programs to provide enriching, educational opportunities for their children during the hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.”

But kids are the big losers if this budget cut goes forward. A decade of research show that afterschool works to boost student success. National studies of students who regularly attend 21st Century Community Learning Centers found participants improved math and reading grade level performance, class participation, homework completion, and classroom behavior. For example, in Texas’ 21st CCLC programs, students were more likely to be promoted to the next grade, while a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program in California found that students participating received higher ELA and math assessment scores. For additional details on these evaluations and to read more state reports, download our 21st CCLC Statewide Evaluation Academic Highlights fact sheet.

And we know that the benefits of afterschool aren’t just for the children in the programs; parents with children in afterschool programs report being more focused at work and being able to work a full day.  That additional security has huge economic results for individual families and for the nation. In fact, according to a study by Catalyst and the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis University, parents with children in afterschool programs contribute an additional $50 to $300 billion more to the economy each year.

At a time when 1 in 5 children is unsupervised after the school day ends and nearly 19.4 million children are waiting to get into an afterschool program, “The administration’s proposal is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promises to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” Grant added. Afterschool is working for millions of American families, and millions more have made it clear that there is immense unmet demand for programs—why would we want to shut them down?

It’s time to speak up in defense of afterschool. Our momentum is strong and we have fought back against one budgetary elimination before: we can do it again, and win. Email your representatives in Congress right now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to tell your representatives that you will not accept elimination of federal afterschool funding. Together, our voices and our advocacy can make the difference that saves afterschool.

MAY
4
2017

RESEARCH
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5 ways afterschool prepares kids to succeed in the workplace

By Charlotte Steinecke

Cultivating tomorrow’s workforce remains a central part of the discussion about America’s economic future. As today’s children begin to develop the skills they will need in the workplace, experts in the education and afterschool fields are turning their attention to the ways that afterschool can contribute to that development.

In the summer of 2016, the Riley Institute at Furman University surveyed afterschool state network leads using a comprehensive skills list from the National Network of Business and Industry Associations and additional skills from other nationally-regarded organizations. Survey responses illustrate the extent to which workforce readiness skills are developed in afterschool programming and the strategies programs use to grow those skills. Here are some main highlights from the study:

  • The top five workforce readiness skills developed by afterschool are teamwork, communication, problem solving, self-confidence, and critical thinking
  • 87 percent of survey respondents report that afterschool programs help develop self-confidence “a lot” – 89 percent report similar levels of improvement for teamwork skills, and 81 percent report gains in communication skills
  • STEM/robotics programs are top performers for fostering self-confidence, problem solving, and teamwork development
  • Afterschool programs create environments where students can engage in reflection, discussion, and argumentative essays to build their critical thinking skills
  • In-school attendance, behavior, and academic performance are seen to improve for students in afterschool programs

Check out the full results of the study here. To learn more about the skills lists utilized for this survey, head over to the Business Roundtable skills list, the Indiana skills list, and the profile of a South Carolina graduate.

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learn more about: Economy Youth Development
APR
12
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 12, 2017

By Luci Manning

Congress Urged to Keep Funding After-School Programs in Hawaii (Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Hawaii)

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.”

Editorial: Hungry Kids Only Learn All the Wrong Lessons (Salisbury Daily Times, Maryland)

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?”

Don’t Close Doors on Successful After-School Academic Program (Plain Dealer, Ohio)

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 700 FPS Students Could Be Left without After-School Programs (Fremont Tribune, Nebraska)

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

APR
5
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 5, 2017

By Luci Manning

Trump’s Budget Proposal Would Gut South Carolina After-School Programs (Charleston Post and Courier, South Carolina)

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.”

Extended School-Day Programs Deserve Support (Keene Sentinel, New Hampshire)

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.”

Reject Trump’s Funding Cut for Afterschool Programs (Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wisconsin)

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.”

GRPS: Trump Budget ‘Shocking’ (Grand Rapids Press, Michigan)

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.  

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learn more about: Budget Economy Federal Funding POTUS
MAR
30
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Key points from the Aspen Institute Summit on Inequality and Opportunity

By Leah Silverberg

On March 16, the Aspen Institute held its annual Summit on Inequality & Opportunity in Washington, D.C. The conversations this year largely focused on income inequality and the difficulty of upward financial mobility for low-income families, contributing to the widening opportunity gap in the United States.

In the first panel of the day, Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at New York University, and Rachel Schneider, Senior Vice President at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, talked about their book The Financial Diaries and what they learned from tracking the finances of 235 low- and middle-income families over the course of a year. One key finding from the study demonstrated the overwhelming amount of income instability that low- and middle-income families experience from month to month and how it affects their daily lives and the way they plan their finances.

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learn more about: Economy Equity Federal Funding
MAR
29
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 29, 2017

By Luci Manning

Trump Proposal Hits After-School Programs (Houston Chronicle, Texas)

Almost 130 afterschool programs in the Houston area may lose federal funding under President Trump’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. More than 103,000 students across Texas participate in afterschool programs and their participation results in demonstrable academic benefits like increased attendance and improved test scores. “For a lot of these kids, we feel like we’re the difference,” Communities in Schools senior project director Kam Marvel told the Houston Chronicle. “Offering 15 additional hours of education a week improves the chances of passing the test and increases exposure to certified teachers.”

21st CCLC Funds, Afterschool Programs in Danger from Proposed Cuts (Lake News, Missouri)

Some 1,500 students in Lake area schools take part in afterschool programs like Afterschool Ambassador Colleen Abbott’s LEAP program (Learning Enriched Afterschool Program), engaging in STEM learning, physical education, and homework help. Despite the improved test scores, grades, and attendance records of participating students, LEAP and other programs may lose funding under the president’s proposed federal budget. Abbott believes these programs are essential not only for students but also for working parents. “The families we support are hardworking individuals who strive to provide for their kids in order to give their children opportunities to succeed,” she told the Lake News.

Local After-School Programs Face Cuts with Trump’s Proposed Budget (Press of Atlantic City, New Jersey)

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would be devastating for students and parents in New Jersey, according to advocates and program operators. “Losing this would be a devastating blow to our students and families,” Wildwood supervisor of curriculum Josepha Penrose told the Press of Atlantic City. “This does allow more parents to work knowing their children have a safe place to go after school.” Programs like the Boys & Girls Club serve 26,000 students in 57 school districts across the state and give students a safe, engaging place to spend the hours after school ends and before their parents get home from work.

After School Funding a ‘Critical’ Need for Kids (Argus Leader, South Dakota)

In a letter to the Argus LeaderAfterschool Ambassador Heather DeWit explains why afterschool programs are critical for her children and other students throughout South Dakota: “The caring adults in after school and summer programs have made a positive difference for both my children. They have had opportunities to make a difference in their world, been supported by positive role models and learned new things, all while I was busy at work... The economic toll we would face in South Dakota. if working parents lost this critical support, the risk factors our children would face, and the incredible benefits our children would lose, make this an obvious area where cuts would be tragic.”