Learning Doesn’t End When the Bell Rings, So Don’t Close the Door on Students

Meet 9-year-old Megan and 7-year-old Stephanie. For these California sisters, the fun doesn’t end after the school bell rings. Megan and Stephanie attend an after-school program that helps with homework and offers activities that combine fitness and fun. Most importantly, it provides them with a safe place to go while their parents are still at work.

Programs like the one Megan and Stephanie benefit from are a vital resource for many families across the U.S.—especially those who live in high-poverty neighborhoods. Not only do they keep kids safe, but they also help students meet state and local academic standards in core subjects, such as reading and math.

In fact, evaluation reports from states like Texas found that students who attended an after school program were more likely to be promoted to the next grade level than students who did not attend.1 Additionally, the longer students were in the program, the less likely they were to have disciplinary incidents and school-day absences.

On a more macro scale, these programs save money for the community. For every $1 invested in a program, taxpayers save $3! This is largely due to the fact that more kids are staying out of trouble and advancing in their academic studies.2 

Despite the overwhelming benefits that after school programs can offer to students, families and communities, the federal Fiscal Year 2019 budget would eliminate a vital program that benefits millions of Americans. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children. If Congress enacts the president’s plan and cuts this program, more than 1.6 million children could lose out on after school and summer programs.3 

The good news is politicians listen to their constituents. The president recommended cutting this program last year too, but because SCAN supporters and our partners raised their voices in support of it, Congress rejected the funding cuts.

We know after school programs are worth saving. And we know we can win this fight.

Please join me in urging Congress to support after-school programs so kids like Megan and Stephanie have a safe and fun place to go after school!

Urge Congress to oppose the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.


[1] Afterschool Alliance, What does the Research Say about After School? http://afterschoolalliance.org/documents/What_Does_the_Research_Say_About_Afterschool.pdf

[2] Afterschool Alliance, 21st Century Community Learning Centers Overview, http://afterschoolalliance.org/documents/21stCCLC-Overview-2017.pdf

[3] Afterschool Alliance, http://afterschoolalliance.org/budgetcutmap/

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Diana Onken is the Director of Mobilization at the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). She has more than 20 years of experience in generating grassroots action in support of issues and candidates. An Illinois native, Diana earned an undergraduate degree in English Studies from Illinois State University followed by a graduate degree in public administration from the University of Maryland. She lives in Central Illinois with her husband and two young daughters.