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A proposed appropriation of $210 million for Promise Grants – the Obama administration’s program to replicate the successful Harlem Children’s Zone approach to child development – is one of the largest new youth-directed programs in the president’s fiscal 2011 budget sent to Congress on Monday.
The current budget contains $10 million for planning grants for possible Promise Neighborhoods. Selection of 20 locations to receive the planning grants is expected this year. The $210 million in next year’s budget includes $200 million for an unspecified number of demonstration projects and $10 million for additional planning grants, signaling a possible second round of demonstration projects next year.
While the president’s budget includes increases in many programs, despite his self-imposed freeze on domestic spending, there are also deep cuts, prompting complaints from various advocacy groups.
The Afterschool Alliance decried cuts in various after-school programs, calling the budget a “bitter disappointment.”
Thw 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the primary conduit for after-school programs, is level-funded in the 2011 budget.
“The president’s proposal to divert funds from after-school programs by putting them in competition for grants with the Full Service Community Schools Program will effectively cut the funding available for the after-school programs that children and families across the nation rely upon,” the alliance said in a statement.
“Without the increase in funding that candidate Obama promised for after-school,” the group said, children would be “at risk for drugs and alcohol, gangs and other crime, teen pregnancy, and other unhealthy behaviors every single weekday afternoon.”
On the other hand, Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, praised the budget for including “concrete and cost-effective proposals to make college more affordable.”
She specifically praised plans to streamline the student loan programs by making direct loans to students. She said the change will generate “billions of dollars in savings for higher education investments that are critical for the nation’s economic recovery.″
Here are a few of the other budget details:
Corporation for National and Community Service: Appropriations for AmeriCorps state and national programs would jump by more than 30 percent – allowing expansion to 105,000 members – and the appropriation for the educational awards would rise about 50 percent, from $197 million to $293.6, reflecting both the increased AmeriCorps membership numbers and rise in the amount of the award. President Obama has vowed to expand AmeriCorps membership to 175,000 by 2017. There were slots for about 75,000 members of AmeriCorps when he took office.
Overall, the budget for the corporation would increase from $1.15 billion to $1.416 billion, with increases in Learn and Serve America (from $39.5 million to $40.2 million), the National Civilian Community Corps (from $19 million to $34.6 million) and the Social Innovation Fund ($50 million to $50 million).
Labor: YouthBuild funding would rise from $102.5 million to $120 million under the president’s proposed budget, allowing expansion to 230 locations.
The department would introduce two new youth initiatives: $108 million to pursue “learn and earn” strategies such as apprenticeships and on-the-job training, and a $154 Youth Innovations Fund for pilot programs for summer and year-round job programs for disconnected youth.
Health and Human Services: The Teen Pregnancy Initiative would rise by $19 million to $129 million; adoption incentives, opportunity and awareness programs would increase from $78.7 to $93 million, and child abuse prevention and treatment would increase from $94 million to $107 million.
Substance abuse prevention programs would grow from $202 million to $223 million, but the administration announced that total funding for drug prevention would rise to $15.5 billion and include $150 million in new funding for a community-based program to prevent adolescent drug use and extend addition treatment and aftercare, along with the training needed to support such a program.
Funding for Head Start, which serves preschoolers, would jump by $1 billion and child nutrition programs would rise by $1.3 billion. A major evaluation of Head Start programs showed they provided students little or no advantage past the first grade. Because the Obama administration is putting its emphasis on programs that work, changes are expected in the program in an effort to boost its effectiveness.
Education: The biggest jump for all youth programs is in the amount request for Pell grants, which go to low-income students so they can attend college. The Obama administration again is asking that the grants be made a federal entitlement, which means funding for them would rise automatically rather than the current method of having to be appropriated each year. Obama is requesting that funding for the program rise to $34.9 billion from the current $26.9 billion. The amount also represents a rise in the maximum amount of a Pell grant, from the current $5,550 to an estimated $6,900 in 2019.
There appear to be numerous major cuts in the Department of Education programs, but many similar independent programs are being grouped together for fewer revenue streams. For example, although Teach for American appears to be zeroed out, it is actually grouped under Teacher and Leader Pathways, along with School Leadership, Teacher Quality Partnership, Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow and Transition to Teaching. There are substantial increases in funding in many of these new categories. For more details on the changes, visit this page on the Department of Education’s website.
However, several programs would be eliminated from the budget – none of them specifically youth-directed – for a total of $122.6 million.
Justice: Mentoring grants drop from $100 million to $45 million; Byrne Discretionary and Competitive grants fall from $225.3 million to $30 million; Missing Children/Child Exploitation funding drops from $70 million to $60 million; and the Weed and Seed program is zeroed out.
At the same time there are new initiatives, including the Attorney General’s Initiative on Children Exposed to Violence. For more on the justice budget, visit JJ Today.