On May 23rd, the White House released a full budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. After wise investments in education were made through the Congressional continuing resolution process in the recent fiscal 2017 budget, I was hopeful that President Trump would rethink the cuts proposed in his “skinny budget” released earlier this year.
However, the President’s final proposal sticks with these misguided cuts, eliminating $9.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s current budget.
Given this troubling news, I’d like to update you on the Fiscal 2018 budget process and the CIS national office’s response and activities. I find it helpful to approach situations by highlighting “bright spots” and “hot spots,” while turning challenges into what I like to call “proble-tunities.” Let’s start with the hot spots.
To start, the proposed cuts total 13.6 percent of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget and include several programs that contribute funding to CIS affiliates. For example, the President’s budget would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant—a major source of funding for both our network and our partners. The proposal also zeroes out the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program—newly authorized under Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act (or ESSA) at $1.6 billion.
The proposal would also eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)—a source of funding that directly impacts ISS model delivery. CNCS administers AmeriCorps, a program that contributed volunteers for over 500,000 hours of service to CIS affiliates last year alone.
These cuts are just a small portion of the $54 billion in cuts to spending on social programs that impact children's development and well-being, particularly in the areas of health, education, nutrition, and housing. As a network committed to ensuring that students have the support they need for success in school and in life, there’s no way around the fact that this budget is a threat to our ability to serve kids.
It’s important to remember that President Trump’s budget is just a request. Ultimately, Congress can restore some funding levels while, for example, approving the President's request to maintain funding for Title III's English Language Acquisition and Language Enhancement Grants, which support some of our most vulnerable learners.
And because of the great work of CIS network affiliates, many members of Congress are aware of the importance of our work. What’s more, elected officials on both sides of the aisle have spoken out against the drastic cuts to domestic spending that have been proposed.
I want you to know that the national office is hard at work advocating for CIS’ policy priorities. Our lobbyists from Cornerstone Government Affairs and our Government Relations team are closely monitoring the budget and appropriations process. We are regularly meeting with staff on Capitol Hill, targeting Members of Congress on key committees, to discuss how cuts to the federal budget would directly impact CIS affiliates in their state and district.
We are also working closely with Voices for National Service (which advocates for VISTA, AmeriCorps, and SeniorCorps), the Afterschool Alliance (which advocates for 21st CCLC funding), and the Children’s Budget Coalition, (which advocates for investments in children’s well-being and development). We continue to participate in the Title IV, Part A coalition, which advocates for funding for the newly authorized Student Success and Academic Enrichment grant.
We have launched several legislative action alert activities, in which many of you have participated. Since March 2017, the network, board members, and CIS constituents have sent over 7,500 letters to Members of Congress.
On June 29th, leaders and alumni from our Growth & Impact communities will travel to Washington, D.C. for planning work. While they are in town, they will take the opportunity to share with Members of Congress real-life stories of how this proposed budget could affect the lives of the students we serve.
The Proble-tunity: We Need Your Help
This is our moment. While progress has been made, our fight to maintain the federal investment in education, specifically 21st Century Community Learning Centers and AmeriCorps, will continue to play out over several months.
I’m asking for your continued help as we advocate against funding cuts that negatively impact our network.
First, and most simply, I’d like to you join Take Action Tuesday, a new weekly newsletter from the national office. Each week, subscribers will receive a message like the one below containing three quick (2 minutes or less) actions to take on behalf of these programs.
Together, we will continue to fight for what’s best for our kids and encourage Congress to be #AllinforKids!