Make it one of your resolutions this year to get involved!
This year at NAA Convention 2020, attendees will get to travel to the halls of Congress to meet with their own policymakers working in the House of Representative and the Senate—a great opportunity to share the successes and importance of local afterschool and summer learning programs and their impact on children, families, and communities.
Following a training and preparation session Tuesday afternoon, attendees will travel by bus to Capitol Hill late Wednesday morning for at least three meetings with members of Congress or their staff to make the case for why afterschool and summer learning programs should be supported through federal policy and funding. The meetings are all scheduled in advance by the Afterschool Alliance and participants will know their meeting schedule and who they're meeting with roughly a week before NAA Convention.
While meeting with members of Congress or their staff can be intimidating, it's also exciting and a civic duty. Afterschool advocates are often more knowledgeable about afterschool programs than those they are meeting with, so this is an opportunity to share your knowledge and story with lawmakers and their staff who determine how much federal funding is provided to local programs. Look for info on webinars in February, to help prepare for meetings, and check out more tools here.
Afterschool advocates are encouraged to share their own stories of afterschool successes. As well, materials and background information will be provided, focusing on a few key messages:
- The importance of increasing federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding as a way to support local, community and school-based afterschool and summer learning programs.
- The importance of the federal Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in helping parents provide care for school-age children.
- The need to pass the Summer Meals Act, to streamline program requirements to increase access to summer and afterschool meals for more students.
"One of the events we host in conjunction with the Afterschool for All Challenge is a special event on Capitol Hill showcasing afterschool programs from across the country where youth from each participating program demonstrate activities they do each day," said Alexis Steines, Senior Director of Field Outreach, Afterschool Alliance. "Our Congressional afterschool champions—members of Congress who are strong supporters—are invited to give speeches and visit with youth. It's really inspiring to see champions like Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and New York Representative Nita Lowey meet with the students and show their support for afterschool."
Those not able to make it to D.C. can still make their voices heard through meeting with members of Congress and staff back in their district and state offices, inviting elected officials to visit programs to see the power of afterschool in action. Afterschool advocates can always call or email Congress to make their voice heard!