It's 2017 and here's what we're up against: A billionaire Secretary of Education is committed to dismantling public education as we know it. The White House is targeting immigrants, many of whom are Latino and Asian families living in the communities we serve. A Congressional majority is determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act and reduce Medicaid, both of which provide the only healthcare insurance available to many of the families of the children who attend our programs.
A Department of Agriculture Secretary nominee is recommending eliminating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), free and reduced price meals and summer meal programs – the food so many children and young people in our programs depend on. Federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding may be an easy next step. And the list goes on.
I'm all about doing our best to prevent these things from happening, and I devote part each day to doing this. I also am painfully aware of the fact that the challenges ahead are compounded by the demands we already face. At the state and local levels, new minimum wage laws are increasing program costs each year.
I am clear about the seriousness of all of this, but I outright reject reducing the number of students who can attend our programs. I believe this is outrageous, unacceptable, irresponsible – and unnecessary. I won't look a child or his or her parents in the eye and say I'm sorry you can't be in our program anymore. Will you? We can, and must, do better! If you haven't done so already, the first step is to stop the overdependence that you may have on federal support.
It's been almost 15 years since the first edition of Securing Balanced, Diversified and Sustainable Funding for Afterschool Programs: Ten Steps to Success was published. This article has appeared on hundreds of websites. Thousands of program directors and others have attended my workshops. And many of the CEOs and District Administrators I've had the privilege of working with have positioned themselves to weather any financial storm now or in the future. You can, too!
The premise is simple, replicable, socially responsible, fiscally prudent and politically attractive. The argument is compelling to funders and the strategies have proven to make all the difference in whether programs achieve their potential or come up short financially. You can download a free copy at www.afterschoolsolutions.org. Children can't wait and neither should we. Let's keep co-creating the future together!
For breakfast I had yogurt, blueberries, granola and coffee between social media advocacy and calls to Washington, DC.