House Passes Farm Bill Cutting SNAP $8.6 Billion Over 10 Years

The House of Representatives Wednesday passed a new farm bill, which includes cuts the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as food stamps, that could impact as many as 1.7 million Americans. The bill would trim $8.6 billion in SNAP funding over the next decade. The proposed budget cuts would impact an estimated 850,000 households in 17 states, who would see their average SNAP benefits reduced by approximately $90 a month. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president would sign the bill if it passed the Senate. The cuts come on the heels of a general reduction in benefits last November, in which all SNAP participants saw their monthly benefits cut by $30.

Nearly $60M in Federal Funding Restored for OST Programs

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers have restored nearly $60 million in federal funding for out-of-school-time (OST) programs serving U.S. schoolchildren. Congress’s decision to restore the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative funds, which had been cut as a result of the sequester, drew praise from the executive director of the Washington-based Afterschool Alliance, Jodi Grant. The increase will mean about 60,000 more kids can attend before-school, after-school and summer programs, Grant told Youth Today. “That’s about 60,000 more kids that are going to be supervised … as a result, so it’s a big deal,” Grant said. “It means a lot to those 60,000 students and their families.”
The 21st CCLC initiative, which targets high-poverty schools, is the only federal funding stream that goes exclusively to out-of-school-time programs.
The restoration of the $60 million, approved with bipartisan support, brings 21st CCLC funding to $1.149 billion now in place for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.

Computing and Engineering in Afterschool

-Full report-

Author(s): The Afterschool Alliance

Published: December 2013

Report Intro/Brief:
"Despite the availability of well-paid computing and engineering jobs, very few college freshmen are interested in these fields -- only 1.5 percent intend to major in computer science and 10.3 percent intend to elect engineering. While there are many factors that influence what major college students choose, one of the key factors is a lack of exposure and experience during the K-12 years. Very few schools are able to offer computing and engineering courses. Although several of the more popular Advanced Placement (AP) exams are in science or math, less than 1 percent of tests taken are the computer science exam. Currently, there is no AP Engineering exam offered.

Before Student Debt: The Story of a Student’s Struggle to Pay for College

Rakhi Agrawal, photo by Gwen McClure. NEW YORK -- During her senior year at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford, Conn., Rakhi Agrawal fit the stereotype of an involved senior. Her grades weren’t as good as she’d have liked, but she threw herself into extracurricular activities, staying after school well into the evenings. The activities served to do more than bolster her application for her dream school, Columbia University in New York City -- they kept her at school for long hours and away from what she describes as an abusive home. She grew accustomed to showering at the gym, to brushing her teeth and hair at McDonald’s or in the school bathroom and to sleeping in the back of her black Volvo 850, a small pillow tucked under her head and a blanket shielding her slightly from the cold.

Since Sandy Hook, Tracking Mental Health Changes Nationwide

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A sign hanging on a pole on the road leading to the elementary school. Photo by Robert Stolarik. 
>> Click Here to Read the Main Article: Sandy Hook One Year on, the Nation Struggles With the Stigma of Mental Illness
ARLINGTON, Va. --  The near financial collapse in 2008 had state capitols across the country tightening their fiscal belts. As part of that new fiscal reality, money for mental health programs suffered deep cuts.

Grants Awarded: October – November 2013

Stuart Foundation 415-393-1551 San Francisco, CA

American Institutes for Research - to support the California Collaborative on District Reform (Collaborative), which brings together district leaders, researchers, state policymakers, and funding organizations to examine critical problems, available evidence for instituting solutions, and opportunities for policy changes to improve achievement of all students, with particular attention to underserved youth. $200,000
California Network of Child Advocacy Centers - to build the capacity of 60 existing and emerging Child Advocacy Centers in California to serve 9,000 children with a coordinated response to child abuse allegations that reduces trauma, enhances safety and puts the needs of the child first. $50,000
Children Youth and Family Collaborative - to support the ARISSE program to bolster the academic performance of approximately 2,500 foster youth annually in the East Los Angeles region by improving school attendance, course completion, high school graduation and college acceptance rates. $150,000
College Success Foundation - to prepare foster youth in Washington State for the 21st century workforce through the College Success Foundation’s (CSF) Center for Career Success, a program that guides foster youth through several stages of career development so that they are equipped to meet their employment goals as they transition from college to career. $150,000
Community Initiatives - to expand college access and improve persistence and graduation rates for current and former foster youth.

Grants Awarded: August – September 2013

The Atlantic Philanthropies 212-916-7300 New York, NY and Washington, D.C.

Georgetown University - to provide policy analysis, strategic planning and technical assistance to state-based collaboratives for work with federal and state administrations in developing policy to protect and expand children’s health insurance coverage. $2,800,000
Advocates for Children & Youth - to advocate and inform the development of permanent systems for universal health coverage for children in Maryland. $425,000
Center for Community Change - to engage young adults in advocacy, outreach and enrolment to protect and expand health insurance coverage for at least half of the 10.3 million uninsured young adults from ages 18-26. $775,000
Chapin Hall Center for Children at The University of Chicago - To design and implement a multi-method evaluation of Chicago Elev8 to help improve the delivery and integration of school-based services, ensure students successfully transition to the ninth grade, and to advance policies and funding that support Elev8 and community schools locally and nationally. $800,000
Children's Defense Fund - to increase children’s access to health insurance coverage and accelerate adoption of better school disciplinary practices by engaging school district leaders in reform.

Storyteller Network Gives Faces, Voices to Poverty

Screenshot of Barbara of Lancaster, Pa., sharing her experience with SNAP in a video On Half In Ten's Our American Story project website.   
When you hear the voices, see the faces and read the stories, poverty is no longer an abstraction. 
Listen to Stephenie of Flint, Mich., tearfully explain in a video how her family struggles to make ends meet even though she’s working and the family receives help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Head Start and the earned income tax credit. Barbara of Lancaster, Pa., tells of skipping meals so her children could eat at a time in her life when she wasn’t receiving SNAP benefits. She speaks of conservative lawmakers seeking to drastically reduce funding for SNAP: “I know if they knew my little ones, if Congress saw the faces of all the little children that they’re actually turning down by cutting the SNAP funding, they wouldn’t do so.”
Lori of Brandywine, Md., says she has to choose between medications and utilities, including heat for her home. She works part-time, and her Social Security Disability Insurance goes only so far.

Federal Outlays for Children Plummet from FY ’11 to FY ’12

WASHINGTON – Federal outlays for children declined $28 billion, or about 7 percent, from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal 2012, the biggest year-to-year decline in three decades, says a new report. 
The report, by the Urban Institute, shows the federal outlays on children – a broad measure of funding that benefits children – decreased from $377 billion to $348 billion, the biggest drop since the early 1980s. The report, “Kids’ Share 2013,” found more than half the cuts were to education programs, which dropped by $18 billion, or 27 percent. Federal funding for pre-school education and care fell by 12 percent, while funding for children’s healthcare and for housing each declined by 6 percent. Advocates for children and the poor pointed out that the cutbacks, the Urban Institute’s latest figures on federal outlays for children, predated sequester spending cuts, and more sequester cuts could be on the way. The report comes at a time when new U.S. Census figures show more than one in five American children, nearly 22 percent, lived in poverty in 2012, when the poverty threshold was $23,492 for a family of four.

Proposed Food Stamp Cuts Put Most Vulnerable At Risk

Markita Barrett, 35, using her WIC vouchers, places two gallon jugs of milk into her cart as she shops for juice and other foods at the Piggley Wiggley in Zion, Illinois, April 4, 2008. Barrett and her roommate feed themselves and two girls, age 10 and 22 months, on a $540 allotment from food stamps. (David Trotman-Wilkins/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
WASHINGTON – One in five Americans said they lacked enough money at times in the past year to buy the food they or their families needed, a new Gallup poll shows. Little wonder, then, that critics say a Republican bill to slash food stamp spending by $40 billion over the next 10 years would prove devastating to families struggling to put food on the table.  
“It’s awful; I don’t have enough words to express what a terrible, unprecedented slashing of the safety net this is,” Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, told Youth Today. 
“This is a cut that would affect 4 million to 6 million people.