Trump Administration Propose Cuts to Key Federal Funding for Summer Programs

March 11, 2019

UPDATED March 19, 2019

President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal, released March 11 with new details added March 18, threatens key programs that support the academic success and healthy development of our most vulnerable students. These cuts are in stark opposition to the President’s own stated “commitment to providing States and school districts with the resources and flexibility to ensure that all children receive an excellent education” (p. 30). Make sure your Congressional representatives know how important these funding programs are to your summer efforts and to youth and families.

The President’s proposed budget:

  • Eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (Title IV Part B of ESSA)—the only source of dedicated federal funding for summer and afterschool programs. These programs allow students to dive deeply into subjects of personal interest, explore potential career opportunities, or hone literacy skills. Teachers can deepen relationships with students and teach subjects with more depth and fewer restrictions. The Administration falsely claims that 21CCLC lacks evidence of impact, relying on older research that has since been rejected and updated. For example, analysis from the RAND Corporation concludes that “out-of-school time (OST) programs are generally effective at producing the primary outcomes that would be expected based on their programming.”
  • Eliminates the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program (Title IV Part A of ESSA)—a flexible source of funds for local schools to deliver activities like summer learning and enrichment that contribute to a well-rounded education, student well-being, and education technology. The Administration’s decision to zero out funding for this program––just as districts are utilizing the $1.1 billion Congress provided in FY18 and before the Department of Education has done any data collection on how states and districts are using these funds to support critical school and student needs––shows a complete lack of commitment to the success of the program.
  • Eliminates funding for Full Service Community Schools (Title IV Part F of ESSA)—an efficient use of schools as community hubs for partnerships that provide wraparound services to students and their families, including during the summer months.
  • Eliminates Title II comprehensive literacy development grants (Title II Part B of ESSA)—which support student literacy programs in and out of school, fostering partnership between teachers, libraries, and families. Research shows that ensuring students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade has dramatic impacts on their long-term outcomes.
  • Eliminates funding for the Corporation for National & Community Service—which includes all AmeriCorps programs, including VISTA and STEM AmeriCorps. These service members are a key staffing component of many summer programs.
  • Reduces funding for summer meals—while also restricting access and adding administrative burden for child nutrition programs that provide healthy and regular meals to students who too often go hungry, especially when school is not in session.
  • Reduces overall funding for TRIO programs including GEAR UP to $950 million and transitions the collection of TRIO programs from a series of competitive grant programs to a single State formula program.
  • Maintains level funding for Pell grants—reducing the buying power of those grants over time. The budget also eliminates the existing Pell surplus that could be used to expand the reach of Pell grants.
  • Maintains level funding for ESSA Title I at $15.5 billion and Migrant Education at $374 million – asking schools to stretch these pools of funding further to make up for eliminated programs.

The President’s budget eliminates additional programs that facilitate summer opportunities such as Promise Neighborhoods, Community Development Block Grants, NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, teacher professional development, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

A couple of bright spots in the proposed budget:

  • Increases Education and Innovation Research (EIR) grants to $300 million, with the call to see this program “support evidence-based strategies and interventions to improve student achievement in STEM fields.”
  • Expands Pell Grant eligibility for short-term programs.

The Department of Education has a detailed summary of the education investments and cuts.

By eliminating funding for locally developed school- and community-based programs, the budget proposal rejects the will of the 85 percent of families nationwide who support public funding for summer learning programs. This budget also goes against one of its own major themes: supporting working families, who depend on low-cost and free summer programs for child care when school is not in session.

Why does funding for summer programs matter? Research shows that every summer without academic engagement increases disadvantages for low-income students. While middle- and upper-class students tend to have access to a variety of summer activities from camp to travel, which can spark excitement and new interests, low-income students normally do not have the same opportunities outside of the school year.

Summer learning loss explains why, by the end of 5th grade, low-income students have fallen behind their more affluent peers in reading by almost three grade levels. And most importantly, a little bit of federal funding goes a long way, with programs leveraging every public dollar invested into two private dollars raised. Federal investments drive local and private support for youth and families. Furthermore, public school funding totals roughly $600 billion for 50 million students nationally per school year. If the average student loses during the summer ten to twenty percent of what they learned during the school year, the country loses $60 to $120 billion dollars of that investment every year. Summer learning ensures that the investments we make during the school year don’t go to waste.

We urge Congress to reject this short-sighted budget proposal and continue to support funding for key programs that support flexible, local summer programs that make a meaningful difference in every community in the nation.


Take Action!

  • Visit where you can Contact Congress with prepared messages regarding funding for 21CCLC and other key programs.
  • Join the Summer Learning Advocates for a Hill Day in Washington DC on May8! We need your presence and your voices on Capitol Hill to tell your representatives how important the 21st Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program and other federal funding is to the students in your programs and your community.
  • Get ready for National Summer Learning Week July 8-13, 2019! Plan an event, invite your legislators to visit your programs, and join us in celebrating the wonderful learning and enrichment students experience in summer programs across the country.