Cicilline, Whitehouse Lead Charge to Expand Access to High-Quality Education

Every Hour Counts is delighted to announce that House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) introduced the Community Partnerships in Education Act to bring non-profit organizations and education programs together to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century economy. Original co-sponsors include: Eliot Engel (NY), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Ro Khanna (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Betty McCollum (MN), John Conyers (MI), Charlie Crist (FL), Dwight Evans (PA), Jimmy Gomez (CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX).

“As our economy continues to change at an unprecedented pace, we need to ensure that young people get the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in the workforce,” said Representative Cicilline, who led the effort to strengthen afterschool initiatives in the 2015 federal education bill. “It’s critical that we bring together leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors to ensure we are providing students with the best opportunity to obtain critical life and career skills. I’m proud to be introducing the Community Partnerships in Education Act, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Whitehouse to advance this important bill.”

Every Hour Counts worked closely with Representative Cicilline and Senator Whitehouse on the proposal, which would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act to elevate the critical role of intermediaries and other non-profit community partners in serving students throughout the K-12 and higher education settings.

Intermediary organizations play a critical role in expanding access to high quality education programs. By driving improved student outcomes, increasing efficiency and promoting continuous improvement, intermediaries help to maximize resources and ensure that students are served.

​“Afterschool programs in cities like Providence show that community groups do great work providing students with skills and knowledge they’ll need throughout their lives,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill will build on the afterschool legislation we passed into law with the K-12 education overhaul, and help young people to thrive in college and their careers.  I’m proud to partner with Congressman Cicilline, who laid the groundwork for Providence’s afterschool success, to help bring this kind of collaboration to more communities around the country.”

We are excited to see that the Community Partnerships in Education Act of 2017 updates the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to:

  • Ensure states and districts work with community partners and intermediary organizations in planning and carrying out career and technical education programming and encourage the use of data sharing agreements to better measure success.
  • Require evaluations of CTE programs to assess the level of involvement of community partners and intermediary organizations and the implementation of data sharing agreements to better measure success.
  • Emphasize the importance of 21st Century Skills within career and technical education programs.
  • Include definitions of “community partner” and “intermediary organization” to reflect the many types of organizations working in these fields.

The Community Partnerships in Education Act also updates the Higher Education Act to:

  • Require projects supported by higher education student support programs, including TRIO, GEAR UP, High School Equivalency and College Assistance Migrant Program (HEP CAMP) to be developed and implemented, to the extent feasible, with community partners and intermediaries in order to expand access to high quality programming.
  • Require grantees under GEAR UP and HEP CAMP grantees, to the extent feasible, to enter into data sharing agreements with community partners to better measure programming and student success.
  • Elevate the importance of 21st Century skills within Federal TRIO and GEAR UP programs.
  • Include definitions of “community partner” and “intermediary organization” to reflect the many types of organizations working to provide critical student support services within higher education.

Every Hour Counts was inspired by the on-the-ground efforts of our national coalition members to suggest these improvements to the Perkins CTE Act and Higher Education Act. The work of the Providence After School Alliance provides an exemplar of how to successfully link more than 100 career-related courses in middle and high school to career pathway strategies that are supported by Perkins funds.

“We know that when young people are engaged in STEM programming after-school, they become more interested in exploring STEM career pathways in their school-based STEM CTE programs, as well as STEM summer jobs. Intermediaries are terrific at making the kinds of cross-sector connections that are necessary for career pathways to be effective.” – Hillary Salmons, Executive Director, Providence After-School Alliance.

Every Hour Counts applauds Congressman Cicilline and Senator Whitehouse for their leadership on these issues and for elevating the role of intermediaries and community-based educators in providing services to students pursuing a college education or career training.

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Congress: Reject Trump Administration’s FY ’18 Education Budget

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Image: Students at Highbridge Green School in the Bronx, part of the ExpandED Schools network, participate in an expanded learning program operated by WHEDco., a community partner

The people who put together the president’s budget know the cost of everything but the value of nothing. —William A. Galston, who helped start AmeriCorps
as the policy advisor to President Clinton

President Trump submitted his FY ’18 budget to Congress, proposing massive funding cuts that included the elimination of 22 programs within the Department of Education. Once again, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program is among those targeted for elimination along with several other programs that provide critical support to after-school programs and personnel. These cuts would be absolutely devastating to students and families throughout the country who rely on 21st CCLC for high-quality before- and after-school programs and other community supports.

Every Hour Counts urges Congress to reject the President’s FY ’18 budget proposal and support critical investments in our kids and families.

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts the Department of Education’s budget by $9.2 billion or 13 percent, claiming that many of the eliminated programs, including 21st CCLC, lack evidence of impact or duplicate of other federal programs such as Title I. At the same time, the budget also cuts Title I by $578 million to support a $1 billion school choice program which would strip the highest-need schools of valuable resources and make it harder for the students furthest behind to get the critical support they need. Additionally, the budget eliminates the AmeriCorps Program and the Title II, Part-A programs which help place volunteers in after-school programs throughout the country and provide professional development for in- and after-school personnel.

Unfortunately, this budget simply asks high-need schools to do more with less, an unacceptable trade-off that will hurt the neediest students.

Every Hour Counts rejects these claims and these cuts.

The 21st CCLC program is the only federal funding stream exclusively dedicated to supporting high-quality and evidence-based after-school programming for 1.6 million children and families in high-need communities across the country. These programs are supported by 20 years of evidence and have shown a positive impact on social and emotional skills, student achievement, school attendance and graduation rates of participating students.

After-school and summer learning programs made possible by 21st CCLC funding provide kids with so much more than a safe place to go while their parents are at work.

These programs expose students to new learning and enrichment opportunities and provide the academic and social support kids need to thrive in school and in life.

Senate Afterschool Caucus

Hill Briefing Panel, from left to right: Jackie Green, Cache Primary Principal, Cache Public Schools, Oklahoma; Jenny Wright Collins, M.Ed., Executive Director, University YMCA/Beacons Network, Minnesota; Stoney E. Hays, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks, Missouri; Sean Prospect, Executive Director, After-School All-Stars South Florida; Ashley, student with After-School All-Stars, Jennifer Peck, President and CEO, Partnership for Children and Youth.

In fact, providers from across the country travelled to Capitol Hill in April for a briefing organized by the Senate Afterschool Caucus, Afterschool Alliance, Every Hour Counts, and other national organizations to share the positive impact that 21st CCLC has had on their lives and communities. We heard from Stoney Hays, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks, Missouri, who  spoke not just from the heart about how the Boys and Girls Club changed his life by helping him graduate from high school and go on to be the first in his family to graduate from college, but also about how their impact is widespread. Members who participate in the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks have a 94% graduation rate. And for every $1 the Boys and Girls Club receives from 21 CCLC, the Club leverages $9 in local resources.

Ashley, a high school student who grew up in the After-School All Stars program in Orlando, brought the room to a resounding standing ovation when she spoke of how the program impacted her life:

They fed me every day during a time that I wasn’t sure there would be food at home. I now get to mentor students that are going through the same things that I went through as a kid. I want to thank Ms. Amy and all the other Ms. Amy’s of after-school programs throughout the country.

I’m just a regular American kid, a kid that easily could have been lost in the shuffle. These programs helped me find my purpose. I’m the proof that these programs work, I’m the proof that they matter and I’m the proof we need them now more than ever.

President Trump’s FY 2018 budget claims to reflect a new vision for education, and yet the cuts show a conspicuous blind spot for the critical role that after-school and expanded learning programs play when it comes to improving educational outcomes for communities everywhere.

Congress is about to begin to craft and deliberate their own funding priorities and proposals.

The time to act and make your voice heard is now!

Call or write to your Senators and Representatives directly to tell them how important expanded learning opportunities are to you and your community and share the impact of the proposed cuts on families, including jobs and opportunities for children, in your community.

Take this opportunity to invite your Senators and Representatives to visit your local after-school programs and share evidence on the positive impact these programs are making in your (and their) community. These visits can bring the local eye view directly to your elected representatives and help them understand just how critical these national programs are to the people that keep them in office.