Thursday, March 23, 2017

Advocacy in the Era of Trump, Part 2

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Throughout its history, afterschool has always had to promote its value and identity around the issues of the day. With each change in the presidential administration, there are risks and opportunities that we should be aware of, and adjust our advocacy accordingly.

President Trump communicated his ideas using very specific language during his campaign and transition. Is there anything we can learn about how best to advocate for afterschool funding? In this new era of Trump, we asked Betsy Brand, Executive Director of the American Youth Policy Forum, and Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, about this. Below is part 2 of their responses. See part 1 here.

Q: President Trump also talks a lot about jobs. Do you think it will be important to stress "workforce development" and "workforce skills" that are part of afterschool?
Betsy Brand, AYPF

Betsy Brand: Afterschool programs are natural venues for helping older youth develop knowledge, skills, and abilities that lead to success in the workplace, life, and community. Skills like teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking are all highly valued by employers. Afterschool and summer school programs can help develop those skills. We should not be shy in telling that story.

Jodi Grant,
Afterschool Alliance
Jodi Grant: Absolutely. Many of the character education, social emotional learning and youth development skills that afterschool programs focus on are just as essential to workforce preparation. Making that connection for people — framing those skills and this learning as workforce development — makes a lot of sense. The same is true for all the opportunities provided to our youth to learn about, intern, apprentice in the community, and even work as part of their afterschool programs. That’s why the National Afterschool Summit, to be held at the University of Southern California on April 5th, will focus on making sure our students are ready to work. 

Photo Credit: Youth Institute, Long Beach 

Q: The "red" rural counties were strong supporters of President Trump. Do you think that promoting access to afterschool in rural areas is important, given the new political climate? 

Betsy Brand: Promoting access to high quality afterschool in rural communities is not a red or blue issue – it’s an issue of fairness and accessibility. The challenge is that many rural communities don’t have lots of afterschool providers like suburbs and cities, so it is hard to provide engaging, high quality afterschool programs. State afterschool, education, and youth leaders can work with rural communities to help develop their capacity to better serve youth and ensure they have opportunities for meaningful participation in the non-school hours.

Photo Credit: Brilliant Maps

Jodi Grant: Promoting access to rural areas has always been vital and, in fact, the Afterschool Alliance has issued several reports, including one just last year, America After 3PM Special Report: The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities, highlighting the unique challenges students and parents in rural America face in their pursuit of high quality afterschool programs.  We hope that the President and Secretary DeVos will embrace afterschool as a way to enhance education in rural America.  

"President Trump has just unveiled his budget priorities—and his plan singles out afterschool funding for elimination." To learn more, click here

LIAS will also be posting a blog on these developments.

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