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Issue Summary  

21st CCLC is federal funding used to support afterschool programs and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Illinois currently receives about $56 million annually in funding for this program. 21st CCLC grants are awarded via competitions that establish various cohorts. Traditionally, ISBE has provided a continuation after the end of a cohort’s grant cycle. After the one-time continuation, programs must reapply for funding. 

When programs were allowed to roll over funding during the pandemic for the first time, ISBE inaccurately forecasted available funding for programs. Between 2020 and 2023, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) held more competitions for the federally funded 21st CCLC program than it had annual funding to sustain. Ultimately, this left some of the most established programs in Illinois unfunded as school districts were unable to cover the gap in funding. We estimate that 12,000 students lost access to programming this past summer, and we anticipate upwards of 27,000 students will lose programming by this summer.

80% of these students are people of color, including 30% being Black youth and 36% being Latinx youth. These students all attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. Finally, over 80% of these employees are women and roughly 50% are people of color. 

Youth academic and mental health needs are greater than ever since the pandemic, and these gaps are worse for youth of color and youth living in low-income communities. A large body of research shows that 21st CCLC programs can support students in the areas where they need it most post-pandemic. Further, these sites are already up and running and successful with strong relationships with their community. Interrupting programming will lose institutional capacity and knowledge.

In January 2024, Senator Villivalam filed a bill to support community learning centers and community schools. The bill would appropriate $50,000,000 from the General Revenue Fund to the State Board of Education for grants to community learning centers under the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The bill number is SB2943.

Below you can view an interactive district-level breakdown of the impact of 21st CCLC programs, and the loss that would occur if we cannot find a way to sustainably fund them.

21st CCLC Bill Number: SB2943

Senator Villivalam has filed a bill to support community learning centers and community schools. The bill would appropriate $50,000,000 from the General Revenue Fund to the State Board of Education for grants to community learning centers under the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The bill number is SB2943.

ACT Now 21st CCLC Town Hall

Unfortunately, ACT Now has been informed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that the $9.1 million line item in the FY24 budget was not appropriated to cover the 21st CCLC’s FY 19 cohort. At this point, it seems there was no state funding appropriated to fill the hole in 21st CCLC funding. ACT Now is hosting a 21st CCLC Town Hall on June 22, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. During this Townhall, ACT Now will provide further context about what happened during the budgeting process, our next steps, and resources for programs as they navigate this situation. 

21st CCLC Funding Update

On May 4, 2023
ACT Now held a virtual Town Hall to discuss the ongoing 21st CCLC funding issue. During the meeting, ACT Now explained that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Education that ESSER funds can be used to support the FY21, FY22, FY23, and FY15 grantees for an additional school year. ISBE’s superintendent, Tony Sanders, is encouraging school districts across the state to leverage ESSER funding to cover the funding shortfall for 21st CCLC grantees in their region. ISBE still has no plans to fund the FY19 cohort. ACT Now has created the following updated resources that can be found on our website

  • Letter to General Assembly responding to ISBE’s media outreach
  • Letter template for youth
  • Mad libs letter template for youth
  • Art activity for youth
  • Postcards for parents/families
  • Action alert!

Updated ISBE Communication to 21st CCLC Providers

On Friday, April 21, 2023, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) sent a letter to FY15 cohort members about their 21st CCLC grant ending after next year. ISBE stated that this was due to federal guidelines not permitting an extension. ACT Now was aware of this issue, as were most grantees, and had been communicating this to grantees all year. The letter did not mention a new grant competition or how ISBE’s funding shortfall would limit one.

ISBE forwarded a similar letter to legislators without mentioning the funding shortfall or a competition, and how this would affect the FY15 cohort. Further, ISBE did not mention that historically, grantees have had the opportunity to reapply for funding when their grant ends. We strongly recommend that you continue to contact your legislators on this matter. To send an action alert, click hereTo access resources for advocacy, visit our 21st CCLC Advocacy page, here.

Please also join us on May 4, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. for our 21st CCLC Town Hall. You can register, here.

Illinois State Board of Education April Board Meeting Recap

On April 19, 2023, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) met for its monthly Board meeting. To access the recordings and meeting materials, click here. ACT Now and several Coalition members attended the board meeting in person to advocate for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC)  grantees. The board heard public comment from Patrick BrosnanBrighton Park Neighborhood CouncilTeresa Dothard-CampbellEast Moline School District 37Michael HannanAlternative Schools NetworkKimberly DavidProject Success of Vermilion CountyMariana OsoriaFamily FocusPaula GarciaSterling-Rock Falls Family YMCAKenny RileyCarole Robertson Center for Learning; and Edgar LopezASPIRA Illinois on the $27 million funding shortfall to 21st CCLC programs statewide. To learn more about the 21st CCLC situation, click here. You can also take action, by clicking here.

Board members also heard public comment on the importance of allowing Urban Prep Academies to continue operating and fully funding the Career and Technical Education (CTE) line. During the legislative affairs presentation, ISBE shared its legislative meeting schedule and noted that all of ISBE’s legislation is on track to clear both chambers of the state legislature. ISBE did not mention 21st CCLC as a legislative priority in the presentation. There also was an in-depth discussion of the Urban Prep Academies appeal to ISBE.  The Board voted to deny the appeal of Urban Prep Academies. Board members then approved all upcoming board actions for next month’s meeting. The next ISBE Board meeting will take place on May 17, 2023. 

In response to the current circumstance surrounding 21st CCLC, ACT Now hosted Town Hall for program providers on Friday, April 14, 2023. Watch the recording, herePassword: V^?jK.4.

We also hosted a Town Hall on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Watch the recording, herePassword: r**n^k9W

ACT Now continues to advocate for 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) providers and monitor the ongoing situation with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). To learn more about what is going on, visit our 21st CCLC Advocacy webpage.

On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, ACT Now and its allies hosted a press conference outside of the Governor’s Office in Chicago.

On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, ACT Now and partner organizations with elected officials hosted a rally in the State Capitol Building in Springfield. Watch it here.

On Monday, April 15, 2024, Family Focus and partner organizations with elected officials hosted a press conference. ACT Now and community-based organizations spoke. Watch it here.

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024, ACT Now and partner organizations with elected officials hosted a rally in the State Capitol Building in Springfield. Watch it here.

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, ACT Now and partner organizations and community members hosted a press conference in front of Chicago Public Schools office in Chicago. Watch it here.

Resources Related to 21st CCLC

Action Items
Data on 21st CCLC Sites
One-Pagers and Talking Points
Social Media Content, Activities & Writing Campaigns
General Resources
Contact Information & Programmatic Support

For general questions regarding advocacy on 21st CCLC, please email Susan Stanton at StantonS@actnowillinois.org.

Outside of advocacy, ACT Now understands that this is affecting many of you as employers and service providers.

In this section, you will find news coverage of the ongoing 21st CCLC situation (in order of newest media content):



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