Federal Afterschool Policy Proposals Could Have a Big Impact on Your City

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With a substantial number of school-aged children and youth in need of engaging activities beyond the regular school calendar, city leaders can play important roles in supporting programs that create a positive and supportive environment for younger residents during the afterschool hours.

Researchers have consistently found that access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs keep children and youth safe when they are not in school, discourage substance abuse and juvenile crime, and improve student attendance and academic achievement.  However, although a growing number of city officials are serving as champions for afterschool, many cities rely heavily on state and federal dollars to support afterschool   programs.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant program, the sole source of federal funding that is dedicated specifically to supporting local afterschool programs, supports the creation of programs that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children and youth.

Reauthorized in 2002 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), federal 21st CCLC grant dollars are administered and distributed by State Education Agencies, with each state receiving funds based on its share of Title I funding for low-income students.  As of May 2011, there were more than 4,000 grants funding afterschool programs, which served 1,660,713 children and youth in 10,466 school-based and community-based centers, according to the Afterschool Alliance.  Grant-supported afterschool programs provide numerous services to students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools, including academic enrichment activities, hands-on experiential learning, and educational development services.

Chances are that these federal dollars are having a meaningful impact on children and youth in your community.  As Congress considers reauthorizing ESEA, proposed legislation would have important implications for the 21st CCLC program.  For instance, some proposed changes would expand the use of 21st CCLC to fund more than just afterschool programming, potentially reducing the total amount of federal dollars going toward afterschool.  In addition, current proposals state that the dollars would go directly to school districts only for extended learning time models – limiting cities from using these funds to support city-run programs.

To help municipal leaders better understand the impact that these proposals could have on their communities and how to best position themselves to be ready for these potential changes, NLC will host an upcoming webinar on “Federal Afterschool Policy Proposals: The Implications for Cities.”  City leaders and representatives from the Afterschool Alliance will join NLC for an informative discussion on this topic.

After the webinar, which will take place July 10 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, join us (@YEFInstitute) and the Afterschool Alliance (@afterschool4all) for a Twitter Chat.  Tweet us any questions you may have on federal afterschool policy proposals using #OSTPolicy in your tweet.

For more updates and analysis on the proposed changes, check out the Afterschool Alliance’s Federal Afterschool Policy page, or contact Bela Shah Spooner at Spooner@nlc.org or Kim Eisenreich at Eisenreich@nlc.org.