Virtual advocacy day earns results for afterschool


Virtual advocacy day earns results for afterschool

On March 17 and 18, dedicated afterschool advocates from 48 states participated in our first all-virtual Afterschool for All Challenge. For many, their advocacy efforts took place amidst the first week of school (and often afterschool) closures in their states. Afterschool advocates were eager to share their stories of how afterschool providers were struggling to help support young people, families, and communities grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than 200 congressional offices were contacted as part of the Challenge, and the staff in those offices welcomed the opportunity to hear from constituents about what supports were needed to help afterschool providers and the young people that they serve. Throughout the day, advocates highlighted the role that afterschool is playing, including how programs are:

  • Transitioning to provide meals or staff grab-and-go food sites
  • Providing delivery of other resource for families- like devices, activity packets, books
  • Providing virtual programming and remote check-ins to make sure their youth and families are okay
  • Supporting children of essential workers

As the 200 phone meetings on March 18 came to a close, a bipartisan letter led by Reps. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Young (R-Alaska) calling for a $500 million increase to the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers was already circulating in the House of Representatives. Within 12 hours more than 50 members signed on to the letter urging increased support for afterschool and summer providers.

Within one week of the Challenge, the Senate, followed quickly by the House, passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (The CARES Act), also known as the Third COVID-19 Supplemental Relief bill. The CARES Act includes multiple provisions that can help support afterschool and summer programs, including additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant, an Education Stabilization Fund that specifically calls out afterschool and summer programs, flexibility for Americorps and VISTA, and assistance for non-profits and small businesses.

Throughout the month of March, supporters of afterschool contacted members of Congress more than 10,000 times!  Advocates effectively made the case that additional investments were needed to support afterschool programs that have closed, as well as to support programs that are open and serving children of essential employees, and to ensure that out of school learning opportunities are accessible for students this summer and next fall to help address learning loss.  

The entire afterschool community is grateful to those who took time to send messages and especially to those who spent a day making phone calls on March 18 – your advocacy was critical to helping support afterschool providers and the children and families they serve during this unprecedented time.