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** Action Alert **
Email your Representative to let them know how important community schools are to the children and families in their district and ask them to support the Full Service Community Schools Act of 2014.
Click here to learn more.

About our Policy Positions
The Federation for Community Schools prioritizes advocacy that sustains and expands community schools. We endorse legislation that promotes innovative collaborations and strengthens partnerships between community-based organizations, school administration, educators, parents and students. We endorse efforts that seek to empower parents and guardians as advocates for their children and as partners in decisions about their children’s education. Lastly, we believe that responsibility for student success extends beyond education agencies and school districts, and we will work to break down silos that exist at all levels of government.

Policy Priorities 2014
Rep. Schock Introduces Full Service Community Schools Act of 2014
FY15 21st CCLC RFP Details & Changes
Community Schools Advocacy Day 2014
Recap of Stakeholder Symposium: Making Sense of the Dollars and Cents
Congressman Schock Co-Sponsors Community Schools Act

21st CCLC Funding in Jeopardy

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) Introduces Full Service Community Schools Act of 2014

Rep. Aaron Schock, a Republican representing Illinois' 18th Congressional District (Peoria, Quincy, Bloomington), joined forces with House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) this morning in introducing the Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2014 (HR 5168). The bipartisan bill would create a competitive grant program to expand the number of full-service community schools around the nation. By supporting the community school model, schools will have access to more resources through multiple funding streams, giving schools greater flexibility to use their operational funds. This is a positive step towards ensuring all students and families have access to the valuable programs and services community schools offer.
Both Rep. Schock and Rep. Hoyer offered firsthand accounts of the benefits of community schools to children, parents and the communities they represent. As Rep. Schock stated in his address "Community schools provide young people the skills to succeed in middle school, high school, and beyond." Rep. Schock urged his fellow Representatives to make education better and more innovative for our students, by "expanding the opportunity for more schools to become full service community schools in the country."
The Federation for Community Schools would like to recognize the efforts of Julie Schifeling, Federation Board member and executive outreach program director for Bradley University's Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, who worked with Rep. Schock and his staff on the integral role community schools play in improving academic achievement and closing the achievement gap -- in Peoria and across the country.  Ms. Schifeling applauds Congressman Schock's leadership in his co-authorship with Congressman Steny Hoyer of the Full Service Community Schools Act, noting that supporting this bill is an example of Rep. Schock's passion and involvement in education. "Through collaborative partnerships, Peoria's developing community schools initiative has been able to leverage grants and local resources to begin to create an environment where students and their families can reach their full potential. Passage of this legislation will allow Peoria to apply for supplemental funds to continue to grow and nurture our community school work to benefit our students and families."
The introduction of the Full Service Community Schools Act of 2014 in the House is only the beginning of the journey. As community school supporters and advocates, our voices still need to be heard to expand this opportunity and benefit communities. 
With ongoing collaboration from our members at the local and national level, including the Coalition for Community Schools, we encourage every community school supporter to connect with your Representative to urge them to co-sponsor this bill to support the Community Schools Act of 2014. The Coalition has developed an action alert for individuals to email their Representative to let them know how important community schools are to the children and families in their district and ask them to support the Full Service Community Schools Act of 2014. Additionally, organizations wishing to be added to the list of supporters of this bill should contact Mary Kingston Roche.

FY15 21st CCLC RFP Details & Changes
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released the 21st Century Community Learning Center Request for Proposals last Friday. The deadline for applications is August 11th.
The Federation was part of a group that included ACT Now, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Children's Home + Aid, Elev8 Initiative/The Shriver Center, Enlace, Illinois Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Logan Square Neighborhood Council, United Way, Youth Guidance, and other partners, advocates and community-based organizations that shared with ISBE ideas for strengthening the 21st CCLC program, including the changes outlined below.
Changes from previous years' RFPs include:
  • Previous grantees are eligible to compete for another cycle of funding, including applicants who have already received two rounds of funding.
  • The amount of funds that can be used for activities that take place during the school day is limited to 25% within each grant. Community school partnerships can consider expanding the resources they bring in during the school day, and look at ways to support things like shared teacher planning time.
  • Grantees will be level-funded at the initial award amount for each year of the life of the grant.
  • The grants awarded in FY15 will be for a 5-year period.

The roles that YOU, our individual members and stakeholders, played were critical to these efforts.  A few of the activities you undertook include:
  • Postcards, letters and petitions to Gov. Quinn, Supt. Koch and Chairman Chico and other ISBE board members that outlined the impact of the delayed RFP and proposed changes. They each received more than 250 postcards, petitions with more than 500 signatures, and sign on letters expressing support from community members, educators, foundations, and non-profit leaders.
  • Participating in Community School Advocacy Day on April 30th. Advocacy Day was held jointly by the Federation and the United Way, and together we had nearly 100 people on the ground in Springfield, sharing the impacts of community school work with General Assembly members, and asking for support for 21st CCLC changes and Teen REACH.
  • Testifying at ISBE board meetings, and at General Assembly committee meetings.
  • Conversations, meetings and site visits with Supt. Koch, Chairman Chico, and other ISBE board members. Many of you had individual meetings with key decision makers, and many of you seized opportunities to connect where they arose.
  • Connecting with your elected officials - from meeting with State Representatives in-district and in Springfield to discussing the impacts to your communities with your Aldermen and engaging their support, it's clear that making the case for elected officials had an impact.
  • Gathering and disseminating information about the impacts that changes to the 21st CCLC grant - or lack thereof - would have in your community schools, and for students and families.
  • Sharing your expertise with colleagues so that they could engage in advocacy efforts, as well. 

We have opportunities moving forward to continue to work with ISBE on supporting and strengthening the 21st CCLC program, and some open questions still remain. More information is available in the RFP, and ISBE will be holding a pre-application webinar on July 9th. We encourage you to review the RFP and participate in the pre-application webinar, where you will be able to get additional information from ISBE and ask questions about the RFP and process.

Community Schools Advocacy Day - April 30, 2014
We're partnering with the United Way to spend a day in Springfield educating elected officials and policymakers about community schools and the funding they rely on to achieve their goals.  Legislators and policy makers need to hear from us - from people directly affected by their decisions, by funding cuts, and by the state's decreased investments in our work - so that they understand how their choices and how the state budget will impact their constituents.   This is a critical time to make our case known. State Legislators are in the process of making difficult decisions about what programs to fund - and where to make cuts. They need information to help guide their decisions, and we have an opportunity to provide our feedback and perspective directly to the people making the decisions.

Learn more about our Community Schools Advocacy Day and how you can get involved

Recap of Making Sense of the Dollars & Cents
On April 17 we convened a Stakeholder Symposium, Making Sense of the Dollars and Cents: Understanding Illinois' budget, the impacts on our work, and opportunities for change to educate our members about Illinois' fiscal situation and how we can work together to make things different in the future. The Symposium featured Lisa Christensen Gee (Voices for Illinois Children), Judith Gethner (Illinois Partners for Human Service), and Teresa Ramos (Advance Illinois) who explained - in an incredibly easy to understand way - the State's fiscal situation and efforts we can collectively take to make affect positive changes to the way our legislature invests in public education and human services. Many thanks for Lisa, Judith, and Teresa for sharing their expertise with us!

Below you can find a full recap of the Symposium and links to the presentations and materials that were shared. 

- Notes from Stakeholder Symposium: Making Sense of the Dollars and Cents
- Illinois' Budgetary Challenges FY15 & Beyond -- Presentation by Lisa Christensen Gee, Policy Analyst, Fiscal Policy Center, Voices for Illinois Children
-  Illinois School Funding Reform (SB16) Overview  -- Presentation by Teresa Ramos, Outreach Director, Advance Illinois

Illinois' U.S. Representative Aaron Schock Cosponsors Community Schools Act
In March, 2014 Congressman Aaron Schock, U.S. Representative for Illinois's 18th congressional district, became a cosponsor on the Supporting Community Schools Act in the House (HR 3873).  Rep. Schock has cosponsored Rep. Hoyer's Full Service Community Schools bill in the past and, as the first Republican cosponsor, is committed to doing so again this session. Much hard work, including that of Federation Board member Julie Schifeling and our partners at the national Coalition for Community Schools, went into educating Rep. Schock about community schools and securing his support.  Rep. Schock's district, which includes cities like Jacksonville, Peoria, and Springfield, is home to several community schools.