On Thursday, March 9th, the President released his budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2024. Additional details have continued to emerge, as agencies post their more detailed congressional justifications.
The budget process includes the President’s release of his recommendations to Congress. Then Congress will go through the appropriations process to decide what actually is funded in the final budget.
This blog outlines some of the things we think are important to note, especially for STEM in afterschool and summer.
There are some bright spots in the recommendations that the President has put forward. These include:
- An increase in Title I grants to help close opportunity gaps for young people;
- An increase to Title IV-A funding to support evidence-based, comprehensive services for students, families and communities (including out-of-school programs and STEM); and
In the AmeriCorps Budget
- A proposed funding increase for AmeriCorps, which supports volunteer placements to advance important areas of work in the areas of education, public health and place-based economic opportunities (e.g. rural or urban areas).
- A proposed funding increase for Child Care and Development Block grants. Child Care grants support children from early childhood thru age 12 and can be used to expand out-of-school STEM learning opportunities for young students.
Erik Peterson from the Afterschool Alliance does an excellent job of reviewing the highlights from the President’s proposed budget. We highly recommend reviewing the blog post here.
The proposed FY24 budget also includes a number of bright spots for science focused agencies. These include funding increases to the National Science Foundation, NASA, Department of Energy Office of Science, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and a request to fund regional technology hubs as part of the CHIPS and Science Act.
The American Institute of Physics reviews the proposed increases of funding in their weekly highlights here.
Gaps within the proposed budget illuminate opportunities for our community to continue to make the case for supporting STEM in out-of-school time. For example, there were no proposed increases in the FY24 budget for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), which we know is one of the most critical funding sources of afterschool and summer learning opportunities.
While the budget request for FY24 remains the same from 2023 for 21st CCLC, as a field of STEM out-of-school leaders, we have a call to action to ensure that we are effectively telling stories to policymakers and the larger community about the importance of 21st CCLC programs in the lives of young people and their families.
We are aware of extensive waitlists in high need communities and that we could serve more students, if more funds and resources were available to 21st CCLC programs. We need more safe, joyful learning spaces to serve students who have had few, if any, out-of-school time STEM learning experiences. Stories show policymakers the critical nature of this revenue source for programs and its possibility to expand learning to thousands of children that would benefit from afterschool and summer learning opportunities.
We have covered some ideas of how you can best share your stories, including:
- Connecting with organizations like the Afterschool Alliance and STEM Education Coalition to help share your opinions about the importance of out-of-school STEM more broadly, including with policymakers.
- Sign up as a supporter of Federal initiatives like Engage Every Student, National Partnership for Student Success, YOU Belong in STEM, STEM Opportunity Alliance and YouthEmploymentWorks to stay updated. There are toolkits on those sites that can help your organization best communicate your stories about the power of STEM in afterschool.
- Engage with Federal agencies on social media when relevant.
Find more ideas of how you can share your stories here.
Finally, it is important to note that American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars are available through September 30, 2024. We highly encourage out-of-school programs to work with partners, especially the afterschool networks within their state, to access those resources to best serve students with hands-on STEM learning outside the classroom. Statewide out-of-school networks have the resources and connections to support local programs with connections to state legislators. You can see how your state has accessed the ARP dollars by using this tracker.
Appropriations for the FY 2024 budget are scheduled to be completed by the end of September, however many are projecting that the process will be delayed through the end of 2024. There is still plenty of time to share stories about the power of afterschool and summer STEM.