Advocating for after school is an endless battle. Especially with federal funding for after school and summer programs on the chopping block yet again.

Advocating for after school is an endless battle. Especially with federal funding for after school and summer programs on the chopping block yet again.

After School Alliance announced in February that President Trump’s 2019 budget proposal calls for eliminating federal funding sources that support after school. These include 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), which provides low-income families with access to high-quality after school programming.

If the budget cut is approved, more than 10,000 after school programs will close and nearly two million children and families will be without reliable after school choices.

With After School Alliance leading the charge, program leaders and staff across the country can lend a hand in securing funding.

You can do this by continuously sharing the value of quality after school programming and, thereby, being an advocate for the after school community.

10 Statistics that Prove After School Programs Work

First, let’s revisit general facts and statistics regarding the state of after school and how it impacts the lives of children and their families.

There is a high demand for after school programs.

  • 10.2 million children participate in after school programs, and that number continues to grow. Source
  • For every 1 child in an after school program, there are two waiting to get in. Source
  • 21st CCLCs serve nearly 1.7 million children and youth, particularly those in underserved communities. Source

After school programs keep children safe and supported.

  • Juvenile crime and victimization peaks between the hours of 3-6pm, when after school programs are in session. Yet, 1 in 5 kids are left unsupervised during these hours. Source
  • Three out of four parents agree that after school programs give them peace of mind about their children when they are at work. Source
  • For every dollar invested in after school programs, $2.50 is saved in crime-related costs. Source

High-quality programs support academic achievement.

  • After school programs help to close the achievement gap between low- and high-income students. Source
  • Program participation has positive effects on reading and math achievement. Source
  • Students who regularly attend high-quality programs over two years report significant gains in math test scores. Source
  • After school helps boost school attendance. Source

4 Ways to Advocate for After School and Secure Federal Funding

Equipped with these facts and your own experiences, program leaders and staff have a unique opportunity to share the value of high-quality after school programs.

Below are four ways to be an advocate for the after school community and help save funding for after school and summer programs:

Use social media as a digital advocacy tool.

With nearly 2.5 billion people using social media today, it’s an effective way to spread the word about the importance of after school programs.

You can use your social media accounts to share the great things happening in your program and to extend your advocacy into the digital sphere.

To get started, check out How to Use Social Media As a Digital Advocacy Tool for steps on building a social media strategy.

Encourage stakeholders to get involved.

Parents, principals, teachers, local business owners and community partners can serve as powerful allies for the after school community.

In an interview with Dr. Paul Young, former school principal and author of Lead the Way, he shared four strategies stakeholders can use to become “champions of after school”:

  1. Use their credibility to advocate for after school programs for all students.
  2. Understand after school funding streams and policy issues.
  3. Keep the public and policymakers focused on the need for a continuum of services that support students and families’ needs beyond the school day.
  4. Promote and facilitate partnerships among schools, providers and communities in order to acquire adequate and sustainable funding for after school programs.

Simply raise awareness and communicate the need for after school champions to others, and many will be ready and willing to join the movement.

Become a walking billboard for your after school program.

Are you prepared to advocate for your program and share the importance of after school at any given moment? If not, there’s a simple formula you can use that works every time.

An elevator speech is a great tool for defining your program and its value in a concise way. Use this formula to help you get started:

“You know [problem]? Well what we do is [solution]. In fact [proof].”

An elevator speech - combined with your passion for what you do - is a powerful advocacy tool for your program and the after school community as a whole.

Contact your Congressional representatives.

Make your voice heard by calling on Congress to protect funding for after school and summer programs.

You can choose to send a message or call reps directly. After School Alliance provides pre-written letters and talking points to help you deliver your message to your representatives.

Last year, advocates and allied organizations delivered more than 78,600 calls and emails to Congress to save after school funding from proposed budget cuts. It resulted in the passing of an amendment that restored $100 million of the 21st CCLC after school and summer learning funding. By getting even more people involved, there’s a great chance we’ll see a similar outcome this year.

Together, your combined advocacy efforts can help secure federal funding for America’s after school and summer programs. To stay updated on policy changes affecting the after school field, follow the After School Snack blog.