Lieutenant Governor, Legislators and More than 200 Afterschool Advocates Rally to Support Afterschool Programs

May 8, 2023

Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, students and legislators from across the state shared their support and experiences with afterschool programs at the 2023 Afterschool Advocacy Day Rally, May 3, 2023, on the Pennsylvania state Capitol steps.

Several speakers shared their support for HB 795, Building Opportunity Through Out-of-School Time (BOOST) legislation which would provide $70 million in state funding for quality afterschool programs.

“As advocates of out-of-school time programming, you are champions for the future of our youth, and your dedication to creating positive learning environments is truly admirable,” stated Contrell Armor, director of Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network. “Your work has a profound impact on the lives of countless children and families, and we are grateful for your unwavering commitment to improving education and promoting positive youth development.”

Students Sarah Anderson, YMCA Youth and Government Delegate at Hershey High School, Derry Township School District, and Lael Laing, Youth and Government Delegate at Friendship YMCA, Central Dauphin School District, served as emcees.

Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis reminded the group that he attended an afterschool program and, “the next governor or lieutenant governor could be standing with us right now… Whether it’s making sure we create a workforce that can empower us into the future or making sure we can reduce violence in our communities, funding afterschool programs is a step in the right direction.”

Senator Lynda Schlegel-Culver encouraged each student to “make their mark on this Commonwealth. Every single one of these students is going to be leaders in their community… We need to do so much more to support afterschool programming in Pennsylvania… For every child enrolled in an OST program, four more are waiting to get into a program. We are letting children down.”

Senator Mike Regan shared that because of his 23 years of experience in law enforcement, he is aware that the hours after school can be a dangerous time for kids. “We need to make sure that all the kids in Pennsylvania have the opportunity to take part in these vital programs to lift them… to the next level.”

Representative Elizabeth Fiedler said, “As a parent, afterschool is absolutely critical… We want to make sure as a Commonwealth and a state House and state Senate that we are doing absolutely everything we can as adults to support you all, because long after we are gone, it’s going to be you folks who are running this place… Afterschool programs can save lives.”

Representative Doyle Heffley shared, “I would encourage all legislators… if you have an afterschool program in your district, get out and visit it, really understand how these programs work. Programs that provide a safe and nurturing environment. Programs that can improve academic performance and behavioral problems… These programs provide a return on investment for these children.”

Sean Jackson, a student at Braddock Hills High School, shared how afterschool programs give students “a safe space away from the violence in the world… My experience in the afterschool program has helped me build relationships with many of the staff I see on a daily basis and opens up to me someone I can speak to and feel comfortable talking to them about personal issues.”

Kamora McMillan, a student at South Philadelphia High School, shared, “It is imperative that the youth, families, communities and most importantly state reps know that afterschool programs are beneficial to youth of all ages and should be a high priority.”

Student speakers included:

  • Youth Keynote, Neha Shukla, Flight Crew Million Girls Moonshot, Mechanicsburg
  • Youth Speaker, Enjalai Baillie, Harrisburg High School, Sci-Tech and Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), Harrisburg
  • Youth Speaker, Aliyah Webster, Chief Science Officer, Minersville Area Junior and Senior High School, Minersville
  • Youth Speaker, Sean Jackson, Braddock Hills High School, Pittsburgh
  • Youth Co-Speakers, Aaron Pravs and Kamora McMillan, South Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia

Amy Burrows, Assistant Director of Propel Afterschool Programs and 2022 PSAYDN Afterschool Champion for Outstanding Quality, Pittsburgh, also made remarks.

In Pennsylvania, every $1 invested in afterschool programs saves $6.69 by decreasing high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, substance use and crime. Yet, for every youth enrolled in an afterschool program in Pennsylvania, four more are waiting to get in. Decades of research prove afterschool helps kids attend school more often, get better grades, and build foundational skills like communication, teamwork and problem solving.

Afterschool Advocacy Day is organized by the Pennsylvania State Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN), in partnership with Pennsylvania School-Age Child Care Alliance (PENN SACCA), the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative, Pennsylvania Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs, Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST), and Sunrise of Philadelphia, Inc.