FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

YMCA Urges Congress to Preserve Funding for Afterschool Programs

Nation's largest non-profit provider of afterschool childcare says increasing funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers integral to ensuring children enjoy safe and enriching afterschool programming

CHICAGO, IL, May 12, 2010—The YMCA offered testimony before the U.S. House Subcommitee on Appropriations today to call for funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, currently the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs in the nation.  Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds allow funded sites, including many YMCAs, to establish and expand centers that offer significant extended learning opportunities, such as before- and afterschool programs, for children and youth.

“Afterschool programs provide a safe and enriching environment that builds upon the work of the school day,” said Chris Francis, CEO of the YMCA of the Northwoods in Rhinelander, Wis., who testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee that was chaired by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), also the chairman of the full U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, “they are fun places where children can develop strong character values. As the largest provider of afterschool childcare in the nation, engaging kids in out-of-school time is a significant part of the YMCA mission.  The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program has been vital to helping us and other community organizations provide this programming.”

The nation’s YMCAs are committed to nurturing the development of every child and teen. In addition to the afterschool sites funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the YMCA’s long-standing relationship with JCPenney Afterschool allows hundreds of YMCAs across the nation to offer quality afterschool programming to thousands of children and families in need. Today, YMCAs serve nearly half a million youth in school-age care programs and millions more in afterschool programs. Afterschool programs at the YMCA focus on the abilities of youth and include elements that promote artistry, social skill development, emotional development, nutrition and physical activity, character development, sports, service-learning, as well as literacy, math and science hands-on activities.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program funds may be used to provide art and music education activities, recreational activities, telecommunications and technology education programs, expanded library school hours, parental involvement and family literacy programs and drug and violence prevention activities. The current funding level for the program provides an opportunity for just over one million children to participate in safe and supervised programs afterschool, while millions more children are left to take care of themselves after the school day.

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About YMCA of the USA
YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation's 2,687 YMCAs, which serve 21 million people each year, including more than 9 million children under the age of 18. YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on their collective strength as one of America's largest not-for-profit community service organizations. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening, and health and well-being for all, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America's communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit ymca.net to find your local YMCA.

Contact:
Kelly Kennai
800-932-9622
kelly.kennai@ymca.net

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.