The 21st Century Community Learning Centers is a federal grant that helps local communities provide high quality and engaging enrichment activities, particularly for students who attend high-poverty schools. For many CIS affiliates, 21st CCLC is an important source of funds for the activities and opportunities that empower our students to achieve in school.

Even though FY17 started in October, Congress has not yet agreed to a budget. Instead, a Continuing Resolution (CR) was signed in December to extend FY16 funding levels through April 28, 2017. Congress must now decide whether to complete a budget for FY17 or to simply continue the CR through the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If Congress decides to revisit the budget, this program will be under threat of cuts – a bill passed the Senate last year that cut the program by $1.6 million.

This potential cut would eliminate programming for hundreds to thousands of students in each state and more than 100,000 students across the nation.

In the Lehigh Valley, CIS delivers 21st CCLC programming at eleven schools in Allentown and Easton: Cleveland Elementary School, Washington Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Sheridan Elementary School, South Mountain Middle School, Harrison Morton Middle School, Trexler Middle School, Raub Middle School, Dieruff High School, William Allen High School, and Easton Area Middle School. In the 2015-2016 school year, CIS served more than 500 students through after school and summer programs funded through 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. Students who regularly attended program made significant gains—60% improved their reading grades and 69% reduced their number of behavior infractions.

In many ways, the impact of these programs is immeasurable. “I’m not in the house all the time,” said one student in an afterschool program, “I’m feeling better prepared and feeling better about myself.”

Another student added, “I like all the things we don’t get in school, like the music, physical education, and arts and crafts.” The 21st CCLC programs deliver high-quality enrichment programs through collaboration with partners such as the Da Vinci Science Center, the Baum School of Art, and local Zumba instructors.

The 21st CCLC programs deliver one of the CIS Five Basics for student success—a safe place to learn and grow. This is especially important for the afterschool hours, when youth are most likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, sex, and criminal activity. A teacher working in the program agreed, saying, “The kids are in a safe place with their peers and not hanging around on the streets–they are getting some education and entertainment at the same time.”

Furthermore, 21st CCLC programs help forge stronger bonds between parents and guardians and school staff. An independent evaluation of 21st CCLC programs in Allentown stated: “Both administrators and teachers reported the program provides another mechanism for increased communication between the parents and the school; many of the parents do want more for their children and this is another opportunity that provides additional support and continuity.”

In this extremely tight budget year, even those policy makers who have been avid supporters of after-school programs in the past may feel stressed by other funding priorities. Your work to thank supporters and garner new advocates will be essential to sustaining after-school funding.

Spread Awareness: Tweet about #21stCCLC!
Share the advocacy page and encourage your contacts to join this campaign.

Strength in numbers: Send a letter to Congress!
Use our easy advocacy tool to a pre-written letter  to Congress urging them to fully fund the block grant!

For the most impact: Call your members in Congress!
Our advocacy tool  will provide you with phone numbers and talking points, but we encourage you to share your afterschool or summer learning story.