More than 250 Students and Advocates Visit the State Capitol to Support Afterschool Programs

June 7, 2024

Students in afterschool programs from across Pennsylvania were joined by educators, program professionals, community leaders and legislators to share their support and experiences with afterschool programs at the 2024 Afterschool Advocacy Day, June 5, 2024, at the Pennsylvania State Capitol through legislative visits and Legislative Caucus and Youth Voice press events.

Several speakers shared their support for Governor Shapiro’s $11.5 million proposed budget for the Building Opportunity Through Out-of-School Time (BOOST) legislation which would provide the first dedicated state funding for quality afterschool programs.

“At PSAYDN, we recognize the immense potential that resides within our students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. These young minds, when nurtured in the right environment, can flourish beyond the boundaries of traditional classroom settings. OST programs are that environment—spaces of innovation, creativity, and growth,” stated Contrell Armor, director of the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network. “Today, as we advocate for the support and expansion of OST programs, we are advocating for a brighter, more equitable future. We are ensuring that every child, regardless of their background, has access to the resources they need to succeed not only in school but in life.”

Students Jay’Len C., Belmont Charter High School and IGNITE Afterschool Program, Philadelphia, and Afterschool Alliance Youth Afterschool Ambassador, and Dayasia D., Central Dauphin East High School, Harrisburg, and Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg 2024 Youth of the Year, spoke at both press events.

Jay’Len shared that “afterschool is a very welcoming place… it showed me how to be a better leader and that people can make great things happen together.”

Dayasia shared how participating in an out-of-school program helped change her life for the better. “Through the [afterschool program], I got to meet kids from all over different backgrounds, and it built a sense of awareness within my community, and I got to volunteer at different services.”

Isaiah W., Allegheny Youth Development, Pittsburgh, shared how his afterschool program improved his academic performance. The program “helped me get my grades up… and now I am about to go to high school with straight A’s.”

Andi O., Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster, shared the impact that afterschool staff had on her well-being. “I have doubted myself so many times. But a lot of these staff… have given me better coping skills to solving my problems and getting past them.”

Other student speakers included:

  • Logan D., Allegheny Youth Development, Pittsburgh
  • Mayah S., Episcopal Community Services: Feltonville Arts & Science, Philadelphia
  • Janala C., Allegheny Youth Development, Pittsburgh
  • Naejhon R., Propel School, McKeesport
  • Bradyn N., Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster
  • Tristin L., Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster
  • Azir A., Susquehanna Township School District, Harrisburg
  • Nasir H., Sunrise of Philadelphia, South Philadelphia High School

Senator David Argall (R-29) shared that we should be “fortunate and proud to have quality afterschool programs across the state. … [Having access to quality afterschool programs] is a Pennsylvania issue.”

Representative Elizabeth Fiedler, co-chair of the Afterschool Caucus, spoke directly to the student advocates. “You are the next leaders… I can think of no better way to invest our tax dollars than in afterschool programs.”

Representative Doyle Heffley, co-chair of the Afterschool Caucus, recognized that afterschool programs are an “opportunity for parents, opportunity for students… Opportunity to partner with local businesses in the community where you have jobs and learning hands-on.”

Senator Nikil Saval highlighted how afterschool programs benefit both the well-being of the students and of our communities. “Afterschool programming means … care… Our communities are better, safer, and better resourced.”

You can view both events online:

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.