By Katie Landes, Director
Last week, I joined over 150 afterschool providers and advocates on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for the Afterschool Alliance’s 2016 Afterschool for All Challenge. As part of the Afterschool for All Challenge, I was able to attend workshops on child nutrition, social and emotional learning, and afterschool advocacy opportunities that were led by state and national experts, congressional staffers, elected officials, and afterschool providers. After a great day of attending workshops, I was joined by an Atlanta-based afterschool provider, New American Pathways, as we met with staff members from the offices of Congressmen John Lewis, Rick Allen, Tom Price, and Tom Graves, and staff members from the offices of Senators Isakson and Perdue. Between these workshops and my visits with Georgia’s Congressmen, one theme kept popping up – your voice matters!
It’s thanks to your calls, emails, letters, and visits that we were able to preserve the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program in the Every Student Succeeds Act(ESSA) and are able to continue to provide high quality afterschool and summer learning programs to nearly 30,000 young people in Georgia each year! Your outreach to your elected officials truly did make a difference this past year. Many Congressional staffers noted the high volume of calls in support of afterschool their offices received – and they, and their bosses, took note.
We can’t stop now though, we need to keep the momentum going! Over the summer, the 21st CCLC program will be included in appropriation bills, where Congress decides how much money will be given to various programs. Your voice is needed to make sure afterschool programs get the funding they need to continue their high quality programming and serve more young people in Georgia and across the country. Check out GSAN’s action alert on 21st CCLC appropriations, for more information and to contact your Congressmen today.
But, it’s not just the data and numbers that your elected officials need to hear about. They need to hear stories from your programs, communities, and the young people and families that you serve. They need to hear why and how your afterschool or summer program makes a difference to the families living in their district.
And better yet, don’t just share stories with your Congressmen, invite them out to come see your program in action! Both the US House and US Senate are in recess the whole month of August and most of October leading up to this year’s election. While your Congressmen are at home in Georgia, encourage them to come visit your site, engage with young people, and see first hand the great work you do everyday! Lights On Afterschool is October 20th this year and is a great opportunity to engage your elected officials – both your Congressmen and state and local leaders.
It’s never too late to make your voice heard, so reach out today!