Regarding the DC Trust.
This morning, we learned that the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (DC Trust) will be dissolving. While the exact timeline and process is still to be determined or announced, now is the time to move forward on next steps with urgency. We want to provide you with a few immediate updates on what we’ve learned today. This is followed by a more detailed set of recommendations for the path moving forward, and a final reminder of why the programs the Trust has funded remain so vital.
Based on conversations with the Council and the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Brenda Donald, we are confident that:
- Current out of school time grant commitments will be honored.
- The $2,000,000 allocation for this coming summer will remain stable and move quickly (likely through the Trust as a part of the final wind down).
- Council will work to ensure the Mayor’s proposed $4,900,000 for FY17 is protected. The Mayor has demonstrated a clear commitment to young people with the proposed FY17 budget to fund OST programming. The continuation of the youth development work that was central to the mission of the DC Trust, “ensur(ing) that every DC youth develops the skills to grow into a healthy, caring and productive adult” is paramount.
- Mayor Bowser will deploy both Deputy Mayor Donald and Deputy Mayor Niles to work closely with Council and the community to develop a transition plan for next school year. DCAYA recommends that funding be directed to a local intermediary organization or funding institution with established grant-making expertise and an understanding of the District’s youth development landscape. Alternatively, funding could reside within a one-time special commission for children and youth that is established for the FY17 school year and summer until a more long-term intermediary is designated. In either scenario, we must work collaboratively to ensure programming is not disrupted next fall.
Taking a thoughtful approach to the management of youth development funding is critical, and as we work with policy makers, our members, and the community at large to explore and consider next steps and solutions, we must remain aware of the unique space such an intermediary exists in. Because of this, while there might seem to be easier options to consider, such as shifting these funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), we would be remiss in our own work if we didn’t push to find a better, sustainable solution rather than rush to institutionalize an easier, short-term one.
While next steps remain a bit unclear today, know that we’re working closely across DC government to ensure that there will be opportunities for public feedback and input on what has and has not worked historically. As these and other opportunities are made available, we will communicate them to you and your fellow DCAYA members.
The Path Forward:
We are dedicated to protecting this funding, to ensuring that it will stay intact, and to guaranteeing that it remains true to its original purpose. We have been searching for alternative OST funding structures, even before seeing the news regarding the DC Trust’s dissolution. We believe the value of a public-private intermediary should be central to our thinking about the future of OST and youth development funding. We are committed to being a thought partner in this work, and will frame future conversations with these thoughts in mind:
1 ) When effectively designed, intermediaries can have tremendous value: We know how valuable having a grantmaking intermediary for local Out-of-School Time (OST) funding is to our members and community based organizations in general. A strong public-private intermediary professionalizes the non-profit, youth serving sector through the provision of high quality youth development training and technical assistance. It can ensure grantee accountability through consistent oversight; and finally, when effectively designed an intermediary entity can make sure public investments are made to high quality youth development programs with demonstrated impacts on academic achievement, diminishing the learning gap, reducing truancy, combating youth crime, promoting healthy behaviors and supporting transition-aged youth.
2 ) The DC Council’s oversight of the intermediary should set a reasonable cap on annual overhead and administrative costs. This action would serve to reassure providers and the public that the funds are dedicated to OST, and that the dollars are reaching the most number of children and youth through community-based program implementation. A threshold of 10-15% would meet the recommendations “reasonable cap” standard.
3 ) As longer-term solutions are considered, all stakeholder partners should establish and use a common checklist of quality standards for OST programs and the system as a whole. Any and all funders, programs, schools, parent-teacher organizations, government leaders, LEAs and agency partners would have access to the tool. Any CBOs receiving OST grants from the funding intermediary would be expected to meet the quality standards. Similarly, all policy and funding decisions impacting OST would be assessed according to this checklist.
Value of Out of School Time Opportunities:
The annual share of funding for out-of-school time programs has declined by 60% since 2010. As a result, only one quarter of the locally-funded slots exist now for community-based afterschool and summer learning that were available to kids just six years ago, a reduction from close to 10,000 in 2010 to fewer than 2,500 in 2016.
If we are serious about providing safe, youth-friendly opportunities focused on improving outcomes and quality of life for all our children now and in future, we must protect the $4.9 million presently proposed for OST programming in FY2017 and work collaboratively to design a strong, efficient and transparent system moving forward. While there are other funding sources for out-of-school time activities in the District, the funds which are allocated to the DC Trust explicitly for OST uniquely offer community-based organizations the ability to nimbly partner with multiple schools to maximize the number of kids they serve annually. As such, this funding stream directly reflects the value we as a District place on our kids’ learning in the hours after school and in the summer. In ensuring the stability and flexibility of this funding, the District will remain on track in serving children and youth with quality, community-based expanded learning opportunities.
While today's news is heartbreaking, know that we will work diligently with each and everyone of you to ensure that the children, youth and families that rely on these critical services are protected. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, and we'll be in touch as things unfold.
- Maggie Riden, Executive Director, on behalf of your team at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates