The president’s budget proposal includes a $1.2 billion cut to school programs that will impact more than 1,600,000 children and their families.
This April recess, NLC is encouraging city leaders to engage with their members of Congress while they are at home in their districts for two weeks. Don’t let Congress leave America’s cities behind — join us as we #FightTheCuts proposed in the administration’s budget.
This post was co-authored by Nan Whaley and Bela Shah Spooner. It is part of a series on the 2018 federal budget.
Last month, President Donald Trump released his 2018 federal budget proposal, which contains across-the-board cuts to programs that are critical to cities. Included in those cuts was the elimination of the only federal funding stream dedicated to supporting quality afterschool and summer learning programs for 1.6 million children across the country who attend high-poverty, low-performing schools — the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants.
The programs funded through 21st CCLC grants provide essential academic and enrichment supports to children and young teens after school and during the summer while also providing a critical value to working parents, businesses and city leaders. Programs run from the time when school lets out around 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., enabling parents to stay at work knowing that their children are safe and learning. Kids in these programs also often receive an after-school snack or meal through additional federal funding that originates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; sometimes it’s the only meal they will have until the next morning.
For working parents, these afterschool programs are a lifeline, helping them work those extra few hours each day to pay the bills and providing their children a nutritious meal. For businesses, these programs mean employees with children are more likely to have peace of mind when their children are out of school, keeping productivity high. For cities, these programs keep their communities safe, incentivize businesses to locate in places where employees have supports, and engage children in learning and on a path to graduation — all while helping the future generation develop key skills to land a job and support the local economy in the future.
Municipal leaders all know that successful, productive young people equal a successful city. Without these essential programs on which kids, families and communities rely, cities will be faced with hundreds or thousands of kids with no place to go after school. No one needs to tell a mayor, city councilmember, police chief or chamber of commerce executive how much of a problem that could be.
These programs also provide a critical service to parents and caregivers, allowing them to continue to work during these hours and thus contributing to the local economy and their own economic mobility.
National Demand for Afterschool Programs
There has long been a national demand for federal funding for afterschool programs. Congress first authorized the 21st Century Community Learning Center program in 1998 for $40 million. Based on documented need and demand, it was reauthorized in 2002 through the No Child Left Behind Act for $1 billion, transferring the administration of the grants from the U.S. Department of Education to state education agencies. The 21st CCLC program was again reauthorized in 2015 through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for $1.167 billion, showing bipartisan support and recognition of the importance of this funding stream for afterschool programs. Each state receives a fixed amount of 21st CCLC dollars, based on its share of Title I funding for low-income students, and afterschool programs at the local level apply for these dollars.
Even with this funding, hundreds of applications in each state are denied each year due to lack of funds. National data show that, while 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs, almost 20 million children are waiting to get in. Cutting another million children out of programs puts our cities and families at risk.
In Dayton alone, 12,000 additional children would benefit from access to 21st CCLC afterschool and summer programs that currently support 40,000 children across the state of Ohio. This story is not unique to Dayton or any one city or town.
Nationwide, cities need these programs. As part of its City of Learners initiative, the city of Dayton has committed to preparing its young people for success in life and careers through afterschool and summer learning programs that help children and youth develop the skills that will put them on a path to success. It is vital for municipal leaders to understand the importance of federal funding for afterschool programs and the real impact they have on the lives of children and families in our communities. A tremendous burden will be on cities to respond if these funds are cut.
Lending Your Voice
The National League of Cities (NLC) has joined with the Afterschool Alliance, 139 national and more than 1,000 state and local organizations calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject the president’s proposed budget and fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative at or above its current level of $1.167 billion. Now is the time for you to lend your voice to this effort. Contact your member of Congress to ensure that they know the direct impact these proposed budget cuts will have on their communities and in their state. Here are four easy ways you can help:
- Find out how many children in your state need afterschool programs and connect with your statewide afterschool network to learn how many kids are served by 21st CCLC programs in your community. Share those numbers with your representatives, either in a face-to-face meeting in your district or through a phone call to their office. Adding local stories to these numbers is critical.
- Visit a 21st Century Community Learning Center in your city or town and hold a press conference about its value and how the proposed budget cuts could eliminate this critical program. Galvanize support in your community to contact your representatives to save the program.
- Write an op-ed in your local newspaper on the importance of this program to your city and community. Send the article to your representative as well.
- Contact Bela Shah Spooner at NLC to share your concern and learn more about NLC’s efforts to fight these cuts. NLC staff are always prepared to support you in your efforts to advocate for programs that are important to cities.
The Afterschool Alliance and the Senate Afterschool Caucus invite you to attend Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs: Preparing Young People for 21st Century Success, a briefing on Friday, April 21 at 1:00 p.m. EDT in room 385 of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. NLC is co-sponsoring the briefing; please contact Bela Shah Spooner for more information.
About the authors:
Nan Whaley is the mayor of Dayton, Ohio.
Bela Shah Spooner is the program manager for expanded learning at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.