Friday, March 07, 2014

Against All Odds

DC Alliance of Youth Advocates will post captivating, moving, and educational testimonies throughout the Performance Oversight and Budget hearing season. To watch the full hearings visit the DC Council website:   

 Expanded learning programs provide youth with opportunities to grow outside the classroom. Whether through the arts, sports, science, entrepreneurship, etc., out-of-school time programs allow youth to explore interests not offered during a standard school day.

This is the simple way to explain expanded learning. DCAYA members such as Life Pieces to Masterpieces, Kid Power Inc, BUILD Inc, People Animals Love, Sasha Bruce, Brainfood, FLOC, and many others across the District know that their expanded learning programs do so much more.

The youth our members serve are succeeding in these programs against all odds:

This point is especially important because one major funding stream for DC’s expanded learning programs is through the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp, or the Trust. The Trust was created to ensure that District youth had consistent access to high quality youth development programming. One way the Trust accomplishes this mission is by offering competitive grants to youth-serving Community Based Organizations (CBOs). Last year the Trust budget mark remained consistent at $3 million, but over the course of last year due to an infusion of public investment through the One City Initiative and the Center for Excellence in Youth Development the annual budget ended up being much closer to $8 - $9 million. This is great and puts the budget mark on par with comparable cities such as Baltimore. But last minute funding changes can have some draw backs. Watch Maggie’s full testimony.

As Grant Elliott, the program director of Kid Power Inc, explained in his testimony at the Trust Performance Oversight Hearing, “While greater funding for the Trust would greatly be appreciated, the consistent distribution of funding could certainly be improved upon.” Kid Power Inc was one of the CBOs which benefited from the $3 million infusion through the One City Summer Initiative. However, the funding came so late that Kid Power Inc had just days to plan, hire, recruit youth, and implement a summer camp for 75 young people at Miner Elementary School. Watch Grant Elliott’s full testimony.

Data collection and consistent funding are two necessary aspects to ensuring quality programming for youth who need it most. The Trust has greatly improved upon its data collection efforts, but there needs to be a clear and consistent annual funding level to strengthen the Trust and its grantees' operations. We considered, and still do, consider the $3 million One City Summer Initiative funding a win for our members and the city’s young people. We also realize, however, that time crunched, over-stretched CBOs are extremely limited in providing the best programming possible when their funding levels are in flux.

There are phenomenal programs operating across DC and our youth, who may have had so little in the past, deserve the best. Join us in asking the Mayor to budget $9 million to the Trust on the front end, so programs such as Life Pieces to Master Pieces, Sasha Bruce, and Kid Power Inc can continuing doing what they do best, providing exceptional expanded learning programming to youth who are succeeding against all odds.

DC Alliance of Youth Advocates testifies at all youth related hearings and you can too! If interested and have questions please contact Angela Massino at DCAYA will give you the tools you need to make your voice heard by the DC Council! View calendar of hearings here

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