To the Friends of Afterschool Programs in Maine,
President Trump has released his budget proposal for FY 2018. The budget proposal seeks to eliminate numerous agencies and programs, including the only dedicated federal funding-stream for after school programming: the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. The President’s proposal also dials back funding for afterschool STEM supports, the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds local AmeriCorps and Volunteers In Service to America (VISTA) positions, and the National Endowment for the Arts. These programs provide valuable opportunities that allow programs and their communities to develop the whole child as an informed and engaged citizen.
In Maine, nearly 6000 students attend a 21st CCLC program. These programs are scattered across the state, and reach traditionally undeserved populations. According to a report from the Maine DOE & Market Decisions Research, children that attend these programs increased their scores on math and ELA assessments, showed higher rates in health and wellness engagement, and participated in diverse enrichment activities in the arts, tech, and STEM fields (link). When faced with elimination of federal funding, many of these program sites will close.
It was not long ago that Mainers fought to preserve funding for afterschool programs. In 2015, the 21st CCLC was reauthorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2016, a bipartisan omnibus funding bill increased the funding for the 21st CCLC initiative. Thanks to the phone calls, emails, and social media promotion of Mainers and our allies around the US, afterschool funding was saved and even slightly expanded.
THE TIME FOR ACTION HAS COME again. While the President has proposed a budget on discretionary spending, the power of the purse ultimately resides with Congress. Though our delegation has been known to support afterschool and summer learning programs, we need to be clear that we are watching. Mainers need to communicate to our representatives that afterschool programs help working families, improve attendance, keep kids off the streets, and fill bellies. Join us as we plan hill and office visits, make phone calls, send emails, and advocate on social media. As constituents, we can direct our public officials to preserve the programs on which our youth depend.
If you’re new to advocacy, the Afterschool Alliance has created an action letter that only requires you to fill out basic information and they provide the rest. Click here to view the action letter!
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