Yesterday (1-31-17) Afterschool in Ohio said a collective “HOORAY!” as the Ohio Department of Educataion released an update (below) indicating that the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant for next year will, in fact, be funded. This comes to a huge relief to Ohio’s school districts, students, parents and Afterschool stakeholders who depend on this grant and the support it provides for our academically at risk students.
OAN would like to thank the Ohio Department of Education for listening to concerns from stakeholders in this issue and for making the necessary adjustments with the grant to make sure that Ohio’s students were served. Our most sincere gratitude goes to Superintendent DeMaria and his team.
OAN would also like to thank all of you: legislators, school districts, superintendents, families and all other stakeholders who called, emailed and sent letters. It is through your efforts that the collective voice for the value of Afterschool in Ohio was heard. In fact, at the meeting where this was announced it was said that ODE had not heard this much objection to a plan since common core was introduced!
Please read on for the whole report from ODE.
Dear Grant Recipient:
We want to provide you with up-to-date information regarding the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant program. We continue to view the future of this valuable program as an appropriate opportunity to ensure alignment of purpose and outcomes with state, school and district improvement plans under ESSA. This alignment process will involve some extra time, but will not require a delay as long as was originally suggested. In response to recent feedback received from educators, administrators and others, we want to give you a better sense of when applications for new grants will resume. Our current plan is to be ready for local districts to be able to apply for new 21st Century Community Learning Center grants by early May. We anticipate making grant awards to successful applicants by August. It should be strongly emphasized that this is a competitive process and that no former grantee is assured of any funding during a new grant round. Of course, be assured that 21st CCLC programs funded through 2017-2018 under prior grants will continue this coming school year.
One issue that emerged from the feedback received was that many districts may not be fully aware of sustainability commitments they made in their previous 21st CCLC grant applications. The federal government intends for grants to local entities to be start-up in nature. Ohio must specifically assure the federal government that the state “will require each eligible entity seeking such an award to submit a plan describing how the community learning center to be funded through the award will continue after funding under this part ends.”
The grant program is not intended to provide programs with long-term funding. Ohio and other states have no flexibility to waive sustainability expectations.
I encourage you to review your organization’s current grant commitment to make sure you are taking the steps needed for your organization to sustain its 21st CCLC program after your grant ends. Sustainability also is a good, long-term practice for increasing the number of students we can serve. More children can enjoy the benefits of 21st Century Community Learning Center programs when prior grantees keep their commitment to sustain their programs and new grants can go to new startup programs.
To help encourage sustainability, we will be hosting a series of webinars to highlight best practices in sustainability strategies. We’ll be in contact with you soon about these learning opportunities. If you have questions in the meantime, contact me at Shannon.Teague@education.ohio.gov or (614) 466-2517.