On April 29 over 130 students, parents, organizational leaders, and advocates descended upon Springfield to let our elected officials know afterschool and community schools are essential. The Capitol Building was buzzing with likeminded groups advocating for the restoration of cuts to social services and public health grants that have had devastating impacts on our communities.
We are thrilled to report that all of our voices were heard! We learned that the Governor plans to reverse the "Good Friday cuts," including Teen REACH, Community Youth Services, and Addiction Prevention. This news comes via Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who chairs the House Human Services Appropriations Committee and has convened hearings across the state to examine how the FY15 - and proposed FY16 - budget cuts impact human services. Rep. Harris released a statement about what he has learned and calls on us to continue working together to explore revenue generating solutions and sensible cuts to balance the budget. The Federation and ACT Now Coalition thank Rep. Harris for his leadership and willingness to stand up for our youth, our families, and our communities.
This is a great victory for us and the youth and families we serve, but the fight continues as efforts over the next month shift towards FY16 budget negotiations.
Your voices continue to be critical to this process! Let your elected officials know the importance of community schools and afterschool programs and the need for adequate revenue to support these critical resources in our communities.
The Senate is currently crafting legislation to replace No Child Left Behind (or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA). The draft legislation proposes moving programs into larger block grants - and the 21st Century Community Learning Center program (21st CCLC) is on this list. 21st CCLC funds would be rolled up with other funds and made accessible solely to school districts and state education agencies to use for purposes other than afterschool programs and community schools.
For us in Illinois, this change means that lead partner agencies could no longer access 21st CCLC funds as direct grantees. It also means that 21st CCLC funds would be able to be used for a wide range of activities and we would lose our biggest support for afterschool programs and community schools. This is especially alarming given the fact that the only other funding we have to support this work - Teen REACH - is on the chopping block.
The good news is that Senator Mark Kirk is on the Senate HELP Committee, where a lot of these decisions are being made, so he can play a key role in preserving Federal funding for afterschool programs. But he needs to hear from YOU.
Make your voice heard in support of 21st CCLC funding and Federal support for afterschool programs. Use this sample script and call Sen. Kirk's office today.
Please contact Melissa Mitchell if you have any questions.
On Friday, April 3rd, the state announced cuts to the following human services programs:
- Funeral & Burial; (2) Immigrant Integration Services; (3) Welcoming Centers; (4) ARC Lifespan; (5) Best Buddies; (6) Autism; (7) Group Home Loans; (8) Compulsive Gambling; (9) Westside Health; (10) Addiction Prevention (GRF); (11) Addiction Prevention (Youth Alcohol & Substance Abuse); (12) Assistance for Homeless; (13) Community Services; (14) Teen REACH; (15) Coalition F/Tech Assist-Child; (16) For Children's Health Program; (17) Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services; (18) Regions Special Consumer Support; (19) SMRF Training; (20) Transportation; (21) DD Latino Outreach; (22) Microboard Development and Outreach; and (23) Epilepsy.
These cuts mean that the programs that rely on this funding will cease operations, effective immediately. Even if you do not directly use this funding to support your community school work, these cuts will have detrimental impacts on the students and families you serve, and will damage the support system in your communities. We all need to work together to raise the alarm about the negative impacts of these cuts, and make our voices heard. We’ll be sharing additional information about how to take action against these cuts in the coming days, but in the meantime, here are three things you can do:
- Share with us how these cuts will impact your community school, students, and families – we’re working with other coalitions to share impact stories with the media and decision makers. Share your story with Melissa Mitchell.
- Tweet about it -- use the hashtag #SaveAfterSchool to tweet about Teen REACH, and don’t forget to use #communityschools, too.
- Contact your legislators – it’s important that legislators hear directly from their constituents about the impact that these funding cuts and the immediate cessation of services on which families rely will have. Unsure how to proceed? Check out our advocacy toolkits for helpful hints.
If you have questions about this or our advocacy efforts in general, contact Melissa.
Join the Federation for Community Schools and the ACT Now Coalition as we head to Springfield to educate elected officials and policy makers about community schools, and advocate for support for afterschool programs, a fair and equitable budget, and adequate state revenue....
Please plan to join us for an important opportunity to share your work with state-level decision makers, and to make sure they know how cuts in the state budget will impact children and families in their districts. We will provide materials, advocacy tools and pointers, and a training session before we start our visits.
If you'd like more information or have additional questions, please contact Melissa Mitchell or Kelley Talbot.
Sign-up now to join us for Advocacy Day in Springfield
The Coalition for Community Schools has created an on-line directory that will include all types of community schools and will serve as a networking tool to connect you with others building community schools in your city, state, and across the country. This directory will offer critical information to guide our collective advocacy efforts and strengthen our local and national community school movements.
With over 175 community schools at various levels of development, Illinois is currently leading the way in this national movement. We encourage our members to add their community schools to the directory so we can ensure that the breadth of work underway in Illinois is accurately represented at the national level.
Sites that complete the directory will get a "summary report" that can be used with your leadership team for planning and growth. Sign up today!
On February 9th nearly 50 community school professionals gathered to learn strategies for laying a solid community school foundation that supports long-term success and sustainability.
If you were able to join us, please don't forget to complete this brief evaluation. Your feedback helps us continually refine and improve our workshops.
Those who were unable to attend can read more below to find some of the tools and resources that were shared.
- - Learn more about the Community Schools Initiative at CPS, including information about the Implementation and Sustainability Process Strategy (ISPS).
- - CPS created this sample Program Registration Form (available in Spanish, as well) that can be used or adapted for your community school programs.
- - Become a member of the Federation for Community Schools to learn more about our events, including our upcoming Building Community through Twitter training series and to access our tools and resources like the advisory board development tools that were discussed.
- - The national Coalition for Community Schools also has many tools and resources that might be helpful in your work. This also where Resource Coordinators can sign-up for the RC Network to connect, learn from, and share ideas with RCs from around the country.
- - If you're particularly interested in parent engagement, consider attending the National Family and Community Engagement conference which will be held in Chicago this June.