Local voice matters…I recently looked over the signatories of a letter that is going to Congress about after school. As I looked down the list, after Arkansas and California’s large showing, I got to Connecticut. Only two organizations had signed on. According to the Afterschool Alliance blog, this letter was signed by more than 100 national and 560 state and local organizations—including the Afterschool Alliance, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Citizen Schools, the National Center for Time and Learning, and the YMCA of the USA. The letter calls on Congress “to maintain the Title IV language in S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), which authorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative as a separate and specific federal funding stream.” 

The Afterschool Alliance goes on to say, “The groups represent a strong sample of the broad services 21st CCLC programs provide to students, families and communities including fitness, nutrition, arts, social and emotional well-being, STEM, youth justice, safety, and academic support. The benefits of 21st CCLC have far-reaching impacts in our communities. More than a decade of research shows that the 21st CCLC initiative leverages school and community partnerships to maximize federal funding to help millions of children become successful in school and life. Students participating in these programs have shown improvements in homework completion, class participation and attendance. This all leads to better grades, better behavior, and lower rates of drug-use and violence.”

Keeping 21st Century Community Learning Centers dedicated funding exclusively for afterschool is an investment that allows students to find their passion, provide supportive experiences that reinforce learning, and allow them to have a space to learn about themselves. Even if you are not part of a 21CCLC program. If you believe in the potential and power of afterschool, your voice is appreciated.