YMCA advocates at ISBE education hearing
Nov 20, 2018

YMCA Advocates for Afterschool Program Funding During Illinois State Board of Education Hearing

On Friday, November 16, the YMCA of Metro Chicago joined forces with the Act Now Coalition, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, and Youth Guidance to present 2020 budget recommendations to the Illinois State Board of Education that sustain critical afterschool program funding. Eric Werge, executive director of the Y’s Community Schools Initiative, testified as part of the panel. Read the YMCA’s testimony below.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago asks the Illinois State Board of Education to include the following in its Fiscal Year 2020 budget recommendations:

  • $20 million for afterschool program funding
  • $15 million for the Healthy Communities Investment Grants
  • $15 million for Illinois Community Schools
  • Improve communication in regards to the 21st Century Community Learning Center grants

Additional funding is necessary for afterschool programming because there are not enough programs to meet the demand. The America After 3PM report stated that 741,400 children in Illinois (41 percent of all Illinois children), would participate in an afterschool program if one were available. As of 2014, only 18 percent of Illinois children were lucky enough to have a placement in an afterschool program.

The current funding streams for afterschool programs in Illinois are not enough to fill this need. In 2014, the Illinois State Board of Education received 142 grant applications requesting a total of $53 million in 21st Century Community Learning Center funding, but were only able to award 87 grants totaling $33 million. These programs not only move the needle in areas of need in our state, but they also save money in the long-term. By increasing kids’ earning potential, improving academic achievement, and reducing juvenile crime and delinquency, afterschool programs save up to $9 for every $1 invested. 

Economists find well-implemented integrated student support can produce a return on investment to society of $3 in benefits for every $1 in costs.[5] The kinds of collaborations that a community school line in ISBE’s FY19 budget would fund would also be mobilized to seek and access additional funding to support implementing the strategies they develop. A $15 million state investment in Illinois Community Schools would yield another $15 to $45 million in leveraged resources.

The evidence demonstrates that afterschool programming and community schools are winning models that achieve real results for our students. We ask that ISBE make these investments to ensure opportunity for families in communities that need us most.

The $15 million line item for Illinois Community Schools would enable the state to implement the provisions contained in Public Act 096-0746, which became law in 2009, and created an infrastructure through which the state can invest in community schools.

YMCA Community Schools Initiative

The Y’s Community Schools Initiative (Y-CSI) collaborates with Chicago Public Schools and other organizations to provide high-quality out-of-school programs and services for students in grades K-8 at 16 partner CPS schools in underserved, under-resourced communities.  This number includes three new schools in the FY19 cohort. The Y currently serves 3,200 students and 650 adults per year in combination with our partner schools. In addition to afterschool programs, we partner with local community colleges and a wide variety of program partners to provide parent and family programming, including ESL classes, adult fitness programs, art and dance programs, and more. We also work with community organizations such as Cradles to Crayons and the Greater Chicago Food Depository to provide necessities such as food, clothing, and school supplies to students and families in need of those critical resources.

The YMCA currently operates Y-CSI through 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services Out-of-School-Time grants, The Polk Brothers Foundation grants, and support from United Way. The Y also serves students in 3 LEARN Charter schools, and those programs are funded by private pay scholarships through the Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Assistance Program.

Community Schools provide CPS students with daily homework help and evidence-based fitness curriculum. In addition to these services, which aim to reduce childhood obesity and increase academic enrichment, Y-CSI also offers the following evidence-based programs to close the achievement gap:

  • Character Action Media
  • Junior Achievement
  • Vocabulary is Power! (VIP)
  • YMCA Achievers
  • Can Do Crew: Character education curriculum
  • CATCH: Fitness curriculum
  • Junior Achievement: Financial literacy
  • May I Have This Dance: Ballroom dancing
  • Safe Dates: Healthy relationship curriculum for middle school students
  • Destination Imagination: Project-based critical thinking and problem-solving curriculum
  • Terra Firm: Fitness programs for youth and adults
  • University of Illinois Extension: 4-H and Incubation and Embryology for school classrooms
  • Scientists For Tomorrow: Hands-on STEM program for middle school students through Columbia College
  • Chess Academy: Chess instruction
  • Libby Performing Arts program: Dance, drumming, and drama culminating in a spring musical

Evidence Shows the Y’s Community Schools Programs Close the Achievement Gap

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has a Learning and Evaluation Department focused on the continuous improvement of Y programs to ensure maximum impact. The following youth outcomes data were part of the Y’s Afterschool Youth Survey conducted at all 13 Y-CSI’s 13 sites during the 2017-2018 academic year:

  • 70% of students said they do school work because they are interested in it
  • 83% of students said they read challenging books
  • 60% of students said they exercise on average for at least an hour every school day
  • 79% of students said there is an adult at the Y who they can talk to about their life
  • 71% of students said they can calm themselves down if they get upset

In addition, these outcomes were gleaned from the Y-CSI Parent and Family Survey that was also given out at each of our sites:

  • When asked whether Y-CSI enrichment programs helped their children's school performance, 95% of parents strongly or somewhat agreed, which was up from 74% in 2016-17, and among these parents, 82% strongly agreed with the statement.
  • When asked to rate on a scale of 0-10 how likely they would be to recommend the Y-CSI program to other families in their communities, 99% responded 7 or higher, and among these parents, 95% responded 8 or higher, and 88% responded 10 out of 10.
  • When asked whether being a part of the Y-CSI program has made their child a more confident learner, 96% of parents responded “somewhat agree” or higher, with 81% of these parents responding “strongly agree.”
  • When asked whether the Y's CSI program had made them more closely connected to their child's school, 85% of parents responded “somewhat agree” to “strongly agree.”

YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
The mission of the YMCA of Metro Chicago is to develop strong children, families, and communities across Metropolitan Chicago through academic readiness, character development, violence prevention, and fitness and healthy living. The Y provides programs and services at 27 membership and program centers, five resident camps, and hundreds of extension sites throughout Chicagoland to meet the changing needs of the more than 227,000 children, youth, and adults we serve each year.