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Congress urged to keep funding after-school programs in Hawaii

The Afterschool Alliance sent a letter to Congress on Monday urging lawmakers to reject President Donald Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate after-school programs for 6,000 Hawaii students.

Trump’s plan, unveiled last month, would cut the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, a $1.2 billion before- and after-school and summer program that mainly targets students in high-poverty and low-performing schools.

Trump’s plan said the program “lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”

The Afterschool Alliance, a national after-school care advocacy group, said in its letter that students who participate in the 21st Century program earn better grades and have lower incidences of drug use, violence and pregnancy than those who don’t.

“We would like (Congress) to put the 21st Century (program) back into the budget,” said Paula Adams, executive director of Hawaii’s Afterschool Alliance, on Monday. “After-school programs … are making a huge difference in our children’s lives and they are proving to be effective in who our children are in general.”

Hawaii schools received about $5.7 million to implement the program for the current school year. About $1 million of that went to 12 schools on the Big Island, mostly in the Kona area and Waimea. About 1,000 students islandwide participate in the program.

More than 1,400 organizations signed off on the letter, including Hawaii’s After-School All-Stars program, the Boys &Girls Club of Hawaii and Waimea-based Kanu o ka Aina Learning Ohana.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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