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OCT
3
2017

STEM
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Administration and tech sector commit to STEM and computer science education

By Stephanie Rodriguez

On September 25, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Education acknowledging that too many of our kids lack access to high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including computer science (CS).

Pointing to the alarming truth that 40 percent of high schools do not offer physics and 60 percent do not offer computer science1,2—a lack of access that is exacerbated in rural, low income, and minority communities—the memo directs the Department of Education to prioritize STEM education efforts in the federal grant making, with particular emphasis on CS. Specifically, the Secretary of Education is directed to reallocate at least $200 million of existing funds each year toward CS and STEM education and teacher recruitment and training, beginning in FY18. The memo was signed in the presence of students from Boys and Girls Clubs in Maryland.

On the heels of this memorandum came loud support from the tech industry. On September 26, representatives from the private sector gathered in Detroit, Mich., and together pledged an additional $300 million over five years in money, technology, and volunteers to support K-12 CS learning. This commitment, championed by Ivanka Trump, is fueled by several tech giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce, to name a few. The afterschool voice was well represented, with both Namrata Gupta (executive director of After-School All-Stars Bay Area) and Michael Beckerman (president and CEO of the Internet Association and board member for the national After-School All-Stars) in attendance. While the exact recipients of this commitment are not known at this time, some companies, like Microsoft and Salesforce, will continue supporting their ongoing CS investments in programs and organizations such as TEALS, code.org, and others.

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MAY
24
2017

POLICY
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Number crunch: Details from the president's FY2018 budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo of Mick Mulvaney by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 full budget proposal, following up on the “skinny budget” outline released in March. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017 (FY18).

Consistent with the skinny budget released in March, the full budget proposal proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which funds local afterschool programs in all 50 states. That proposal, which would devastate the 1.6 million children and families, comes in stark contrast to the strong support for afterschool recently displayed in Congress in the passage of the bipartisan FY17 omnibus spending bill last month, which included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers.

A budget opposed to research

The budget proposal, titled A New Foundation for American Greatness, attempts to justify the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers by claiming that a lack of evidence exists that links the program to increased student achievement. In fact, over a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs do in fact yield positive outcomes for participating children.

The Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in December 2015 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and saw its funding increased in the 2016 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support across party lines and a wealth of research to the contrary, the administration continues to maintain that the Community Learning Centers program is ineffective. The only evidence the administration uses to back its claim is hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from numerous researchers showing that afterschool works. 

In fact, the Department of Education’s most recent report on Community Learning Centers finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Center programs improved their math and reading grades, two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and more than half improved their classroom behavior. One out of four students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in both math and reading test scores. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.

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
1
2017

POLICY
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Afterschool funding preserved in proposed FY2017 spending bill, still under attack for 2018

By Erik Peterson

May 8, 2017 update: The President signed the FY2017 spending bill into law last Friday. Read Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant’s statement on the law.

May 4, 2017 update: Today, Congress passed its final fiscal year (FY) 2017 omnibus spending bill. The bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers by a vote of 309-118 in the House and 79-18 in the Senate. The president is expected to sign the bill into law during the next 24 hours. For details from the omnibus bill on FY 2017 funding levels for afterschool and summer learning programs, please read below. 

Late on the night of April 30, after a weekend of negotiations, the House released a $1.070 trillion omnibus spending bill which will fund the government through September 30, 2017. Votes on the measure are expected this week, as failure to pass a spending bill by the end of the day on Friday, May 5 would lead to a government shutdown.

What's in the bill?

Congress increased 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding by $25 million over the FY2016 level, to $1.19 billion—a win for children, families and the country. The proposed increase means doors to quality local afterschool and summer learning programs will stay open for 1.6 million students and families. Additionally, it will make programs available for 25,000 of the 19.4 million students currently waiting for access.

This increase is especially noteworthy following President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the program in his FY2018 budget preview, which drove friends of afterschool to reach out to Congress with more than 57,000 calls and emails, energized supporters to turn out at town halls in their communities, and prompted more than 1,400 local, state, and national organizations to sign a letter in support of Community Learning Centers. Champions of the program on Capitol Hill showed strong support for Community Learning Centers as well, with 81 members of the House coming together across party lines and signing a letter in support of the program. A huge thank-you to all who worked so hard in support of Community Learning Center funds.

Other funding streams that can be used to support afterschool and summer learning programs were largely supported in the proposed omnibus:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): $95 million increase up to $2.9 billion. Typically about one-third of children served through CCDBG are provided with school-age afterschool care. This funding builds on the consistent funding increases in recent years to help states implement quality improvement reforms in the CCDBG Act of 2014.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): AmeriCorps and VISTA are funded at last year’s level. In addition, the bill includes expanded resources for state commissions to build the capacity of national and community service programs at the local level. AmeriCorps and VISTA positons can be used to support afterschool programs.
  • Full Service Community Schools: $10 million, level with last year’s funding. FSCS grants support community schools and often leverage afterschool and summer learning supports.
  • Title I: $15.5 billion, a $550 million increase above FY2016. Title I funds can be used to support school district-provided afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • Title IV Part A Student Support Academic Enrichment Grants: Funded at $400 million, an increase of $122 million over the total for the consolidated programs in 2016 but less than the $1.65 billion authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. These grants were changed so that states will offer them competitively to districts rather than as formula grants, as originally authored in ESSA. Afterschool STEM is an allowable use of the grants, as are physical education, community school coordinators, and a wide range of mental health supports and education technology.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): The legislation funds NSF at $7.5 billion–$9 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. NSF targets funding to programs that foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience and STEM education.
  • Youth Mentoring Initiative: $80 million decreased by $10 million from FY2016. These grants funds support mentoring initiatives for young people in and out of school. 
  • Perkins/Career Technical Education: Funded at $1.135 billion, an increase of $10 million, to support older youth career and workforce readiness education.  

The funding level meets the base discretionary spending caps provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act with $551 billion in base defense spending and $518.5 billion in base non-defense spending. Discretionary funding for the Labor-HHS-Education bill (Division H of the package) is cut by $1.1 billion below the 2016 enacted level.  The Department of Education (ED) receives $68.2 billion, a net cut of $1.1 billion after including the bill’s rescission of $1.3 billion from the Pell grant reserve (i.e., previously appropriated funding for Pell grants that is saved as a surplus until it is needed). 

What comes next?

The House Rules Committee is meeting on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. – an initial step needed to clear the bill for a vote by the full House. The bill could come to the House floor for a vote as early as Wednesday, May 3. The Senate would follow with votes in anticipation of passing the fiscal year 2017 spending bill before the continuing resolution expires this Friday night, May 5.

With both the House and Senate expected to vote on the omnibus spending bill this week, friends of afterschool can reach out to their senators and representatives to weigh in on the importance of the bill.

Though Community Learning Centers see increased funding in this year’s bill, our field must not stop speaking out. We need afterschool supporters to make your voices heard as Congress begins looking to FY2018, the year when President Trump wants to eliminate funding altogether. With your help, we’ll continue seeing wins like the one we’re celebrating today for America’s kids and families.

APR
19
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 19, 2017

By Luci Manning

Sew Bain Club Sends Handmade Clothing to Nicaragua (Cranston Herald, Rhode Island)

Nearly a dozen girls have been spending their afterschool time learning to design clothes and use a sewing machine for a good cause. The girls in the Sew Bain afterschool club, part of Afterschool Ambassador Ayana Crichton’s Bain afterschool program, work three days a week to hand-sew clothing to donate to children in Latin America. “They are really very kind to one another and have become like a little family in here,” program head Rachel Bousquet told the Cranston Herald. “They give each other ideas, they are really encouraging each other and they help each other.”

Standing Up for Their Own – Locally and Globally (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)

Eight high school students recently had a chance to lobby for youth programs as part of a special trip to Washington D.C. The Youth Ambassadors pilot program, from Jackson-based Operation Shoestring and ChildFund International, brought the students to Washington to meet with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and staff from the offices of several others members of the Mississippi delegation to discuss the importance of afterschool and summer programs in low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world. “It let our students know they can share their perspectives and that change is a complicated and protracted process,” Operation Shoestring executive director Robert Langford told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

Letter: Ending Farm and Garden Would Be a Major Loss (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

In a letter to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle, 16-year old Julianna Martinez expressed worry that critical funding for her afterschool program will be eliminated under President Trump’s proposed budget: “Farm and Garden is more than just an after-school program. It’s a place where I can be myself and feel welcomed just as I am…. And it’s not just me. 21st Century programs like Farm and Garden mean so much to many of us youth. They provide activities to keep us out of trouble. They teach skills that help us be successful in the future…. I have never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy being in Farm and Garden program. It has brought joy and warmth to my heart every week. Please, President Trump, do not take that away from me.”

Dogs Help Teach Life Skills, Offer Unconditional Love (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)

Paws and Think has expanded its programming to pair dogs with struggling students to help them learn important life skills and spend time with a loving canine companion. Through the Pups and Warriors program, students at Warren Central High School train dogs who will soon go up for adoption, honing social and emotional learning skills and building confidence. “The dogs not only instill love and attention, they help the kids blossom,” Paws and Think executive director Kelsey Burton told the Indianapolis Star. The dogs benefit too, learning basic obedience skills that will help them be better pets once they’re adopted. 

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APR
10
2017

STEM
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Guest blog: Trump budget would devastate afterschool STEM

By Guest Blogger

By Ron Ottinger, the director of STEM Next, co-chair of the national STEM Funders Network, and the former executive director of the Noyce Foundation. Known as a leader and expert in STEM learning, Ron has spent the last nine years guiding the Noyce foundations initiatives in informal and out-of-school-time science. With STEM Next, Ron continues to work toward increasing STEM learning opportunities for youth nationally.

This blog was reposted with permission from STEM Next.  

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would deny millions of American youth the opportunity to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning; inhibit the development of the nation’s future scientists, engineers, inventors, and business leaders; and cut young people off from building the skills they need to advance in school, work, citizenship, and life.

If enacted by Congress, the President’s budget would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the single largest source of funding for afterschool and summer programs that enroll 1.6 million students across rural, urban, and suburban communities in all 50 states.

Afterschool and summer programs provide essential learning opportunities for young people. This is particularly true when it comes to STEM learning – a national priority.

And afterschool programs have the support of an overwhelming number of Americans: a recent Quinnipiac poll found 83% are opposed to cuts in afterschool funding.

The Administration has said there is no evidence that these programs are effective. That is simply not true.

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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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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.”