Afterschool: A Bastion of Bipartisan Support

By Jessica Donner, Every Hour Counts

Students at Highbridge Green School in the Bronx, part of the ExpandED Schools network, participate in an expanded learning program operated by WHEDco., a community partner

The people who put together the president’s budget know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

Every Hour Counts urges Congress to reject the President’s FY ’18 budget proposal and support critical investments in our kids and families.

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts the Department of Education’s budget by $9.2 billion or 13 percent, claiming that many of the eliminated programs, including 21st CCLC, lack evidence of impact or duplicate of other federal programs such as Title I. At the same time, the budget also cuts Title I by $578 million to support a $1 billion school choice program which would strip the highest-need schools of valuable resources and make it harder for the students furthest behind to get the critical support they need. Additionally, the budget eliminates the AmeriCorps Program and the Title II, Part-A programs which help place volunteers in after-school programs throughout the country and provide professional development for in- and after-school personnel.

Unfortunately, this budget simply asks high-need schools to do more with less, an unacceptable trade-off that will hurt the neediest students.

Every Hour Counts rejects these claims and these cuts.

The 21st CCLC program is the only federal funding stream exclusively dedicated to supporting high-quality and evidence-based after-school programming for 1.6 million children and families in high-need communities across the country. These programs are supported by 20 years of evidence and have shown a positive impact on social and emotional skills, student achievement, school attendance and graduation rates of participating students.

After-school and summer learning programs made possible by 21st CCLC funding provide kids with so much more than a safe place to go while their parents are at work.

These programs expose students to new learning and enrichment opportunities and provide the academic and social support kids need to thrive in school and in life.

Hill Briefing Panel, from left to right: Jackie Green, Cache Primary Principal, Cache Public Schools, Oklahoma; Jenny Wright Collins, M.Ed., Executive Director, University YMCA/Beacons Network, Minnesota; Stoney E. Hays, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks, Missouri; Sean Prospect, Executive Director, After-School All-Stars South Florida; Ashley, student with After-School All-Stars, Jennifer Peck, President and CEO, Partnership for Children and Youth.

In fact, providers from across the country travelled to Capitol Hill in April for a briefing organized by the Senate Afterschool Caucus, Afterschool Alliance, Every Hour Counts, and other national organizations to share the positive impact that 21st CCLC has had on their lives and communities. We heard from Stoney Hays, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks, Missouri, who spoke not just from the heart about how the Boys and Girls Club changed his life by helping him graduate from high school and go on to be the first in his family to graduate from college, but also about how their impact is widespread. Members who participate in the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks have a 94% graduation rate. And for every $1 the Boys and Girls Club receives from 21 CCLC, the Club leverages $9 in local resources.

Ashley, a high school student who grew up in the After-School All Stars program in Orlando, brought the room to a resounding standing ovation when she spoke of how the program impacted her life:

They fed me every day during a time that I wasn’t sure there would be food at home. I now get to mentor students that are going through the same things that I went through as a kid. I want to thank Ms. Amy and all the other Ms. Amy’s of after-school programs throughout the country.

I’m just a regular American kid, a kid that easily could have been lost in the shuffle. These programs helped me find my purpose. I’m the proof that these programs work, I’m the proof that they matter and I’m the proof we need them now more than ever.

Congress is about to begin to craft and deliberate their own funding priorities and proposals.

The time to act and make your voice heard is now!

Call or write to your Senators and Representatives directly to tell them how important expanded learning opportunities are to you and your community and share the impact of the proposed cuts on families, including jobs and opportunities for children, in your community.

Take this opportunity to invite your Senators and Representatives to visit your local after-school programs and share evidence on the positive impact these programs are making in your (and their) community. These visits can bring the local eye view directly to your elected representatives and help them understand just how critical these national programs are to the people that keep them in office.

Originally published at everyhrcounts.wordpress.com on June 5, 2017.

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