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Congress Increases Funding for Expanded Learning Opportunities!

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, Policy & Legislation

Good news for afterschool funding in the federal FY 2018 budget!  Congress has funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers at $20 million above last year's level, increasing available funding for this critical funding source for expanded learning opportunities (ELO) to $1.21 billion!  

Thanks to advocates across the country, and here in Washington State, we made our position clear that 21st Century CLC funding is critical and must be maintained to continue providing afterschool and summer programming to 1.6 million youth across the country, and more than 16,000 here in Washington State.

Check-out the Afterschool Alliance's latest blog post for a full recap on the federal FY 2018 budget with a report on all funding sources impacting ELOs.  There was also an article in Youth Today countering Education Secretary DeVos' claim that no data shows afterschool programs to be effective.  Cited in the article is evaluation of the 21st Century programs in our state showing student gains in reading and math.  Go Washington!

While we celebrate this win for ELOs, the fight continues.  Congress will now move on to negotiating the FY 2019 budget.  President Trump eliminated funding for 21st Century CLCs in his proposal, so we must urge continued funding beyond this year. 

Send an email to your Congressional delegation to make sure this program is maintained moving forward and urge their support for 21st Century CLC funding in the FY 2019 budget. 

Want to learn more about a program in our community? Check out the article below featuring a 21st Century CLC program run by Seattle Parks & Recreation at Northgate Elementary School. 

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Seattle, WA – Seattle’s Northgate Elementary is home to a diverse student population with nearly 80% students of color, 37% of whom identify as Latino, and 42% enrolled in a transitional bilingual program.  With 75% of their student population qualifying for free or reduced price meals, many Northgate Elementary families have limited financial resources to afford enrichment and other learning opportunities after the school bell rings and during the summer months.

Thanks to Seattle Parks and Recreation’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (CLC) program at Northgate Elementary these students have access to academic support, enrichment, and other activities that are designed to reinforce and complement the school day.

The 21st Century CLC initiative, the only federal funding stream dedicated to afterschool programming, plays a critical role in closing the learning gap between kids in poverty and their middle to higher income peers. With students only spending 20% of their waking hours in school, quality afterschool programs ensure that children and youth in high-poverty schools are engaged throughout the day and year. 

President Trump’s recently released federal budget puts this program at-risk by completely eliminating all funding to support 21st Century CLCs. As Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance stated, “The Trump administration’s call for zero funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool initiative is a betrayal of the millions of students and parents who depend on afterschool and summer learning programs. This proposal would devastate working families.”  

This would be the case for the families of the ninety 2nd-5th grade students served by the 21st CCLC program run by Seattle Parks & Recreation at Northgate Elementary. This afterschool program not only exposes kids to a variety of opportunities to develop new skills and discover passions, but student outcomes show it’s making a difference when it comes to improving  academic and behavior outcomes, reducing school absences, and increasing engagement and excitement around school.

“Our program is important because we provide students with access to opportunities they may not otherwise have,” explains Connor Durham, Coordinator at the 21st Century CLC program.  

The Seattle Parks & Recreation 21st CCLC program at Northgate prepares young people to be successful in school and in life by building their confidence, providing focused instruction in math and reading, and exposing students to a broad array of additional programs and enrichment activities including STEM programming such as robotics, computer programming, video game design, and 3-d printing; art and music; physical fitness and wellness; and service-learning community projects.  

Connor is one of many who sees firsthand the positive impact of these programs, and has major concerns regarding the proposed elimination of 21st Century CLC funds because he knows what a negative impact it would have on children and families who rely on these programs. “We have the capacity and want more students to become involved in our afterschool program, but we need the funding to do so.”

This program, along with the hundreds of others across the state serving more than 16,000 students, keeps kids safe, inspires them to learn, and supports working families.

 “21st CCLC funding reaches some of our more remote, and high-need communities in Washington, such as the students at Northgate Elementary.  Communities rely on these funds to support students and provide unique opportunities whether it be learning a new skill or getting the hands-on practice that helps students connect what they are learning in school to real life experiences”,” explains David Beard, Policy Director at School’s Out Washington. “Eliminating this funding stream will have negative impacts on academic growth for our students who need these supports most.”

School’s Out Washington will be working closely with the Afterschool Alliance and other groups across our state to urge Congress to maintain or grow this program.

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