How-to on Getting After-School Money out of the Stimulus

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama last month includes lots of money for states to spend on education and youth, and the parameters appear flexible enough that the funds could flow to out-of-school-time ventures, particularly ones that occur on school grounds.

That is hardly a given, though; lots of school districts want that money for school-day needs such as construction, restoration, teacher training or hiring.

The Afterschool Alliance has posted some advice to AS providers at its online policy action center on how to steer some of the stimulus funds into after-school programs. The Alliance has identified the specific streams of money in which after-school might fit, and provided links to data and talking points the group believes will help bolster the case for funds.

"We've been doing weekly conference calls on the stimulus with statewide networks in 38 states," said Alliance Vice President of Policy and Research Jen Rinehart.

It's still at an overture phase for advocates; write letters to the governor, make calls. "We haven't heard of any state [where after-school was] shut out of the conversation," Rinehart said, "but I can't say there are any immediate success stories to share."

One pot that really intrigues the Alliance, she notes: a block of approximately $650 million of the state stabilization funds that are dedicated to innovation. The Department of Education will be giving that money straight to lead education agencies in counties and localities, not to the states.

The field, barring any big changes to the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill that should be signed by Friday, will also see about a $50 million increase in 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds from the Department of Education for this year.