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After-School, Summer Programs Eliminated in Trump Budget

An after-school STEM program for girls in White Salmon is just one that would lose federal funding under the Trump administration's 2019 budget. (School's Out Washington)
An after-school STEM program for girls in White Salmon is just one that would lose federal funding under the Trump administration's 2019 budget. (School's Out Washington)
February 16, 2018

WHITE SALMON, Wash. – The Trump administration wants to end federal funding for after-school and summer learning programs. Money for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program drops to zero in the president's budget for 2019.

Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said there's no proof that these types of programs help students. Dorinda Belcher, who helps run a 21st Century-funded program in White Salmon, disagrees.

She says they offer practical help to kids who aren't keeping up in school. Belcher adds the girls in her program have started a group that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM.

"They named themselves #STEMinists – which was adorable, I thought – and they're really, really proud of their program,” she says. “It's exciting because I've also heard a couple of them talking about how they want to be engineers, and I don't think they would have even thought about that had they not had this opportunity to do the things that they're doing in-program."

Congress will make the final decision whether to follow Trump's plan to eliminate 21st Century funding. Last year, the administration also proposed zeroing out the program's budget, but Congress raised its funding instead. Still, Belcher says advocates for after-school and summer programs are making their concerns known to their representatives.

21st Century Learning Center funding largely serves kids in high poverty areas from working families. In Washington state, it has given access to expanded learning opportunities after school and in the summer to 16,000 students. Belcher, who is also the Washington State Afterschool Ambassador, says the same is true across the country.

"I'm just one small drop in the bucket,” says Belcher. “There are two million kids who go to after-school programs, and they need these. It's a community and often feels like family. These kids have extension of support – emotional support, mental support."

Washington state stands to lose more than $17.5 million in funding.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA