Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Turning Point for Expanded Learning: Behind DCAYA’s Bold FY18 Budget Ask

In June of last year, DCAYA released a report which documented the declining trends in funding for and access to afterschool and summer expanded learning opportunities for DC children and youth. We noted that DC Public Schools (DCPS) elementary schools with the highest “at-risk” student enrollment also tended to have the lowest share of available afterschool enrollment slots through Out of School Time Programs (OSTP), and that the District’s FY16 budget included cuts to OSTP, with programs being offered at eight fewer DCPS Title I schools from SY2014-15 to SY2015-16. 

In addition, local funding for community-based out-of-school time (OST) programs had declined by 60% since 2010, resulting in only a quarter of the locally-funded slots for community-based afterschool and summer learning that were there for kids just six years earlier (from close to 10,000 in 2010 to under 2,500 in 2016). Much of this decline happened as funds were administered through the DC Trust, which closed its doors in September 2016.

Promising Trends. At the start of the current school year, there were 7,700 OSTP afterschool slots in DCPS, up from 6,790 the previous year, and the overall OSTP allocation in the FY2017 budget reflected a 33% increase from the previous school year. New funding covered OSTP programming at three additional schools, more than 800 additional afterschool enrollment spaces, and 183 added FTE positions to provide afterschool coverage at the schools. According to the School Budget Development Guide, DCPS is also adding three more schools to OSTP in FY2018. 

At the same time, Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) Jennifer Niles and members of Council have since shown collaborative leadership in determining a path forward following the dissolution of the DC Trust, and after several months of meetings and a public hearing last October, the DC Council unanimously passed the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes Establishment Act on December 20, 2016, which the mayor signed last week on February 15, 2017.

We believe that FY2018 could be a turning point. As we look back on the work that DCPS has done over the past year to expand access through OSTP and to strengthen community partnerships, and the work of the DME and community partners to forge a path forward since the dissolution of the DC Trust, we see an opportunity ahead in FY2018 to scale up locally-funded afterschool programs in the District. DCAYA is convinced the time is right to inform and influence the re-creation of the youth development system here in the District with the strongest investment in expanded learning we’ve seen in years. This year, we support an initial $10 million dollar investment in expanded learning programs through the new Youth Office in the FY18 budget. This funding will support community-based OST providers to better meet the needs of some 6,000 additional children and youth. 

Next Steps. The DC Council has approved the schedule for the coming months’ performance oversight and budget hearings. We'll be reaching out to help sign members up to testify at the budget hearings in the spring, but in the meantime if you know you are already planning to testify, please reach out to Joseph Gavrilovich. You can also review our resources for advocacy season and advice for writing testimony, as well as our issue brief on expanded learning.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Transportation Advocacy Letter for Re-engaging Youth & Adult Learners

DCAYA and our partners at the Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC) have drafted a letter to the City Administrator and Mayor's Budget Director that we'd like to have as many of our members, providers working with disconnected youth, and individual supporters as possible sign on to by Wednesday, February 22nd.

It is our goal to both elevate this ask as the Mayor's team develops her proposed budget, and to garner widespread support among Councilmembers and other key stakeholders in the case this ask will require Council advocacy later in the budget cycle. The letter applauds the DME's transportation report and recommendations, and reiterates the importance of supporting the District's adult and alternative education students.

The letter reads as follows. If you or your organization would like to be included as a signatory, please click on the link toward the end of this post to contact Amy Dudas ( the name and title of the organization or individual you'd like to include on the letter:

February 24, 2017

Dear City Administrator Young and Budget Director Brown:

We, the undersigned, want to thank you for the leadership and commitment the Bowser Administration has demonstrated in exploring the transportation needs of the District’s adult learners, alternative education students, and formerly disconnected youth. In the effort to develop an effective and efficient policy solution to the persistent barrier transportation costs pose to this population of students, the Deputy Mayor for Education’s “Report on the Need for Transportation Subsidies and Assistance for Adult Learners” identified a much-needed path forward. As providers of and advocates for adult and alternative education, we especially appreciate the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s and the Deputy Mayor for Education’s collaboration to identify the unmet need for transportation subsidies among these students, the impact of increased transportation costs on attendance and enrollment for this population, and the options available to provide affordable access to transportation for these learners.

As your offices work to develop the Mayor’s budget, we urge you to include the Deputy Mayor for Education’s recommendation to expand the unlimited bus and rail component of the School Transit Subsidy program (Kids Ride Free) to all District residents enrolled in publicly funded adult education programs. The DME report found that to serve the 7,494 students enrolled in community-based organizations (CBOs), UDC’s Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning programs (WDLL), and adult charter and alternative education schools who are not currently receiving assistance through Kids Ride Free, the government would need to invest between $1.5 and $2 million dollars a year. This expansion of the Mayor’s signature Kids Ride Free program would leverage the program’s existing technology infrastructure and a low negotiated cost of ridership between DDOT and WMATA.

Unlike students through age 22—who do not have to pay to ride Metro rail and bus because they are enrolled in the Kids Ride Free program—students aged 22 and older currently pay full price, which poses a significant financial burden that often threatens an individual’s success in adult education programming. 
  • In 2016, a DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) survey of youth in adult or alternative education placements (many of whom were formerly disconnected) ages 22-24 found that 83% of respondents were spending approximately one-fifth or more of their income getting to and from their programs.
  • DCAYA’s survey also found 21% of surveyed youth 22-24 missed class 3 or more times a month due to insufficient transportation funds. Most programs are less than 40 weeks long, so these youth missed 13% of their program’s total class time because they could not afford to get there.
  • Because adult learners and the education programs that serve them currently have to pay the full, face value of transportation, any assistance they are able to offer must be done at a very high cost: one DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC) member reported spending $17,000 a year on transportation assistance for students, and another program spends $50,000 annually. 
This modest investment stands to leverage the District’s current investment of over $80 million in local and federal dollars to support educational instruction for adult learners. The DME report notes that “the current investment in adult education could yield greater results with a reduction in transportation costs for adult learners.” Moreover, this policy expansion would aid in filling the gaps in services referenced in the DC WIOA State Plan. The Plan describes that there are “an estimated 5,500 youth (6.8% of the total youth aged 16- 24) that want to work but have not looked for work recently due to issues such as transportation and child care,” and that inadequate access to transportation has been a challenge cited by business stakeholders in retaining District employees. By reducing a primary barrier to residents’ success in basic skill remediation through this policy expansion, they are empowered to better navigate a career pathway toward sustainable, fulfilling employment.

We are happy to discuss this recommendation with you further, and are confident that in the coming weeks our continued collaboration will produce a path forward that reflects the consensus of policy makers, advocates, the adult education community, and the learners and re-engaging students we serve.


DC Alliance of Youth Advocates
Maggie Riden
Executive Director
DC AFLC Steering Committee
Lecester Johnson

(Your individual or organizational support will be included here.)


Chairperson David Grosso, DC At-large

Chairperson Mary Cheh, Ward 3

Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6

Councilmember Jack Evans, Ward 2

Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 8

Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 4

Councilmember Anita Bonds, DC At-large

Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5

Councilmember Robert White, DC At-large

Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6

Members, DC Council Committee on Education

Members, DC Council Committee on Transportation & the Environment

Phil Mendelson

Elissa Silverman

Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia

Chairperson, DC Council Committee on Labor & Workforce Development

Jennie Niles

Hanseul Kang

DC Deputy Mayor for Education

DC  State Superintendent of Education

Courtney Snowden

Diane Pabich

DC Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

Interim Executive Director, DC Workforce Investment Council

Edith Westfall

Acting Dean, Workforce Development & Lifelong Learning at ‎University of the District of Columbia - Community College

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

DCAYA's Advocacy Agenda for 2017

This week, we wanted to share our advocacy agenda, going into this year's Performance Oversight and Budget hearings. We've broken down our short term goals for the next year or so by our four main issue areas.

Youth Homelessness

One main goal is to scale up the capacity of our system to serve close to twice as many youth through developmentally appropriate and culturally competent services. To this end, we will be advocating for fully funding the first year objectives in Youth Strategic Plan, an investment of $5.7 million. Not limited to beds and transitional housing, this investment also includes building support for long term prevention and intervention strategies.

Other goals related to this issue include making sure that case management, family connections, prevention and outreach enhancements all come online in a timely manner, as well as supporting efforts to develop and begin to implement a bold new rapid re-housing program for transitional age youth in the District.

Expanded Learning

This year, we are focused on informing and influencing the re-creation of the youth development system here in the District, and build support for an initial $10 million dollar investment. This crucial foundation will support community based organizations to better meet the out of school time needs of youth and their communities.

Over the next year and a half, we will continue to support and monitor the implementation of the Office of  Youth Outcomes and Grants (OYOG). We will continue supporting the development of the Commission and Office in any ways possible; while also working in conjunction with the Committee on Education's oversight to foster and enhance cross-systems collaboration & planning in provision of Out-of-School Time (OST) programs.

In this issue area, another goal is elevating the priority for Expanded Learning data sharing through ongoing facilitation between members and key agencies on the opportunities for data collection and sharing and inform programmatic and system level decision making.

Youth Workforce Development

In this issue, continue our ongoing advocacy, education and trust building to strengthen the quality, capacity and connectivity of the youth workforce development system is a priority. We will work to establish effective oversight and accountability mechanisms to maximize existing federal and local investments.

This includes advocacy on the opportunity for Summer Youth Employment Program pilots for special populations and ongoing engagement in the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Finally, we will also continue to foster collaboration between key agencies on opportunities to use existing data to enhance and target services to out-of-school youth.

Also, if you didn't see our blog from December about the Re-Engagement Center's new online tool, check out Add It to Your Toolbox:!

Disconnected Youth

And for our young people who aren't enrolled in classes or employed, we will work to identify and remove the policy or funding barriers they face, in successful reconnection to education and jobs.

We believe it is necessary to secure $3.5 million dollars in order to expand transportation subsidy support to those who have reconnected to school. Of that amount, $2 million is an ongoing expense, and the remaining $1.5 million is a one time one.

As it relates to the barriers youth seeking to reconnect to education and employment, we join advocacy efforts for the expansion of a childcare subsidy, as we acknowledge the impact of childcare, or the lack thereof, on the education and employment outcomes of some of our most at-risk youth.

We need you

We need you to check our blog weekly for the latest information and updates. We need you to help spread the word on what you've learned and reach out to ask us questions about what you'd like to know more of. We need you to join us so that all of our youth have safe homes & places to live & learn, and the proper education & training to work and thrive.

Now, more than ever, we need to invest in our youth today, for the vitality of communities in all 8 wards tomorrow. As always, let us know if you have any questions,

- Your DCAYA Team

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Progress Amidst Uncertainty - A recap of DCFPI's event

Yesterday, DC Fiscal Policy Institute hosted an event, co-sponsored by a number of local organizations, including DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. The event was called, "Progress Amidst Uncertainty: Making the Most of DC's 2018 Budget". Our entire team was in attendance, at the True Reformer Building.
Beverly Wheeler was our Emcee for the morning. Ms. Wheeler is the Director of DC Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in the Nation's Capital.
And what a wonderful Emcee for the morning! She introduced us to our Keynote speaker, Jared Bernstein. In addition to being a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Mr. Bernstein was formerly the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden.
Mr .Bernstein's keynote provided a federal lens as it relates to the national landscape, for the rest of the speakers and panelists. DCFPI's own Executive Director, Ed Lazere.
Mr. Lazere provided a comprehensive overview regarding the fiscal health of the District as well as how it disproportionately translates to the economic well-being of different communities. Some facts to put that in perspective included sharing that:
  • 1 in 5 children in DC are in extremely low-income households paying more than half their income in rent
  • Over the past decade, the average income of DC's extremely low-income households rose 0%, while the median rent in DC rose 35%
And with that in mind, Mr. Lazere made a case for a more nimble and responsive local budgeting process that necessitates postponing several automatic tax cut triggers.
The final portion of our program was a panel moderated by Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of Children's Law Center. The panelists were:
  • Angela Hodges, DC Resident
  • Lecester Johnson, CEO, Academy of Hope Public Charter School
  • George Jones, CEO, Bread for the City
  • Keyla Rylan, DC Resident
They had a wonderful conversation provided a perspective of social service need and impact, from both providers' points of view as well as the direct experience from individuals who've used such services, from housing to job placement, assistance with education to medical, and more. One particular point made by Mr. Jones is one that is constantly top of mind in our own work:
Along with the remainder of the panel discussion, this left us reinvigorated for the work we have to do, which at the end of the day, is in line with the work we've always done in terms of advocacy for funding, legislation, and policy that allow youth in all 8 words the choices and opportunities to not just survive, but thrive. And we invite you to join us, a coalition of dedicated organizations and passionate individuals, and ask DC Council to untie our hands when it comes to the FY 2018 budget.

You can see more tweets from yesterday in this Storify. And find out more at DCFPI's blog about three specific steps that will help us make the most out of the FY 2018 Budget: It’s Time to Stop Budgeting with Our Hands Tied.