We advocate for local, state, and federal funds needed to sustain new and existing out-of-school time programs.
Learn more about how you can help us rally support for programs in your community today!
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, putting nearly $2 trillion into all facets of the American economy. This legislation allocates approximately $122 billion to public education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER, or in this case ARP ESSER), including $2.1 billion for public education and up to $521 million for out of school time in Kentucky. We must seize this moment to build something sustainable, communal, and equitable.
With these funds, we can take an enormous step to accomplishing our vision that all children and youth in Kentucky will have access to high-quality out-of-school time programs that prepare them for success in school, work, and life. Together we can design and implement youth and family-centric supports that will reduce poverty, proactively address racial and gender equity, and support kids who most need us right now. With a collaborative, coordinated effort to advocate at the local, regional, and statewide levels, we can invest in community partnerships to build a sustainable ecosystem of support for whole child development and whole communities.
KYOSA has developed and continues to update this webpage as a toolkit to support all Kentucky OST providers in advocating for funded partnerships with their local school districts. We recommend using this toolkit in the order of sections below or you can expand specific sections relevant to your current advocacy efforts. As always, KYOSA is here to support you. We would love to learn more about your local outreach efforts and hear what would be most helpful for you at this time. Please email us at email@example.com to connect or request additional guidance.
How to Advocate for Funding a Partnership with Your OST/Community Organization
First, click here to see:
- how the total $2.1 billion in ARP ESSER funds will be allocated to the Kentucky Department of Education and local education agencies (LEAs = school districts);
- how much your school district is estimated to receive;
- a current funding timeline and status; and
- links to all related resources from the U.S. Department of Education and KDE.
As an OST provider, we hope you will advocate to your local school districts to partner with you to provide OST programs for their students using funds from their 20% minimum reserve for learning loss, which explicitly calls out summer and afterschool programs as an allowable use.
While an opportunity of this size requires coordinated advocacy at all levels across Kentucky, 90% of these funds will be in the hands of your school districts, which will require local action. Deep community connections and strong relationships with the schools and school districts that the kids you serve attend will be more critical than ever. We encourage you to follow these steps and use their corresponding, detailed sections below to prepare and engage as soon as you’re ready:
- Educate yourself
- Build your case
- Reach out
- Educate stakeholders & decision makers
- Keep the conversation going
Before taking action, make sure you’ve developed a strong understanding of this opportunity, the types of evidence-based programs and practices school districts will be looking to implement to address learning loss, and KYOSA’s statewide advocacy strategies, which will support your local advocacy efforts. At a minimum, we recommend reviewing the following:
- The KYOSA webpage – you’re more than halfway through!
- KYOSA American Rescue Plan webpage
- Strategies for Implementing ARP ESSER Funds – particularly these priorities:
- Quality: As we work towards increasing the field’s capacity to reach every kid through OST, we must prioritize dialogue about why quality matters and commit to a culture of accountability to the youth we serve.
- Sustainability: By investing this one-time funding in building community partnerships, we can optimize available resources, create efficiencies, and align on shared goals with school districts to yield better outcomes for more kids. Investing in establishing partnerships now will ensure effective collaboration even with fewer resources in the future.
- Help Kids Recover webpage – a new joint campaign across multiple national OST organizations aimed at connecting local education leaders and community organizations
- Evidence-based practices and impact of OST programs – particularly, the following:
- U.S. Department of Education’s ESSER III Spending Guidelines for States – specifically section II.A (pages 18-24) on expanded learning time
Build your case for why school districts should partner with your community organization to provide OST programs for their students. Here are the big questions you should consider and document your answers to:
- Youth served: Who do you serve now? How can you expand – who can you serve/where and how many students?
- Quality/impact: What youth outcomes does your program support? It will be important to focus on how your program supports the development of academic, social, and emotional skills. It will also be important to have data/evidence to prove this. Other key questions, based on the U.S. DOE guidelines:
- Do your curricula/activities align with Kentucky Academic Standards and your school districts’ curriculum?
- How/does your program target youth needing additional support?
- Does your program staff include certified teachers?
- Does your program offer youth any certifications or other benefits upon completion?
- What does your process for evaluating and improving the quality of your program look like?
- Community support/engagement: How/does your organization also provide essential services and support (eg, transportation, healthy meals) to students and families? How did your organization step up to serve families throughout the pandemic?
- Operations: How are you currently operating (ie, program format and length)? How are you planning to operate this summer/next school year? How flexible can you be (eg, for summer programs, can you offer both partial and full day options?)?
- Funding required: What is the cost of your program? What are your anticipated additional costs related to COVID-19 and operating safely in-person (eg, PPE, social distancing, etc.)? Please consider that programs offered through community partnerships should be free for all families.
- Proposed partnership: How can your organization/programs support district goals? How can you and your district set and achieve shared goals for students?
- Identify key stakeholder relationships and potential connections to decision makers
- District leadership: Superintendents, chief instructional officers or staff, chief innovation officers or staff, principals, or even afterschool directors where school districts may already have some internal infrastructure for OST programs
- Local businesses: OST prepares the workforce of tomorrow and supports the workforce of today – local business and chambers of commerce are helpful advocacy allies and connections to your school districts
- Collective impact/philanthropic organizations: Everyone will benefit from creating more, stronger partnerships between schools and community organizations – collective impact organizations, coalitions, and private funders may all be helpful connections to your schools and school districts
- Reach out to everyone you know
- Email template linked here for reaching out to school district leadership and staff
- Reuse and adapt the language from this template for reaching out to local businesses and collective impact/philanthropic organizations for requesting support and connections to your school districts
Once you’ve scheduled a meeting with your school districts, local businesses, or collective impact/philanthropic organizations, prepare for the conversation and equip yourself with supporting materials:
- Conversation guidelines and talking points linked here
- One-pager linked here
- Any additional, compelling marketing materials your program has!
Follow up with all stakeholders and align on next steps. Some school districts are already releasing RFPs now, in anticipation of funds, and some are preparing for future RFPs. It is imperative that these meetings and conversations happen now so that community organizations and OST programs are every school district’s priority when it comes to budgeting and formalizing partnerships.
KYOSA is here to support you. We would love to learn more about your local outreach efforts and hear what else would be most helpful for you at this time. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect or request additional guidance.