On Tuesday, May 31st more than 200 youth, parents and after-school staff rallied at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Community Center to save after-school programs for thousands of children across New York City.
Co-sponsored by The New York City Youth Alliance and the Coalition to Preserve OST Afterschool Programs, the rally participants urged the Mayor and the City Council to work together to restore more than $23 million for after-school programs (Out-of-School Time – OST – programs) in the City’s budget – 16,000 NYC children across New York City face the loss of their after-school program. NYC would lose a quarter of its after-school system if the money is not restored. The rally focused on the impact of the cuts on Manhattan programs – funding for 22 programs in Manhattan would be eliminated.
Highlights of the rally included hearing from youth and parents about the importance of after-school programs. Angel Jackson-Young, a 7th grader at Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy IV who attends the after-school program at Milbank, said that even though he would continue staying out of trouble if he had no after-school program to attend, he was not confident that his peers would stay on that same track. Mr. Rakim Smith, a single father, spoke about how thankful he is that his adolescent daughter has a safe and enriching program to attend, without which she would be home watching television. And finally, Ms. Mable Moody, a grandparent, gave a rousing talk about why we, as a city, must give our children every opportunity to succeed. The rally attendants also had the opportunity to have their voices heard by providing video testimony and writing letters to elected officials. Selena Valentin, a 14 year old who attends C.I.S. 166, a Children’s Aid Community School in the Bronx wrote that her after-school program has given her the confidence to be a leader and strive towards her dreams.
The Mayor and City Council are currently negotiating the Fiscal Year 2012 City budget, which begins in July 1st. The next weeks are critical.
To advocate for after-school programs, please see our Take Action page.