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Policy Priorities

SOWA works to encourage policy makers at all levels—city, county, and in Olympia—to become champions for accessible, equitable policies for afterschool and summer that are engaging, high-quality, and that look different than the school day.

At the state level, we engage the expanded learning opportunity field in advocacy work with the Washington Expanded Learning Opportunity Network, and work together with the Expanded Learning Coalition and our policy and advocacy partners to advocate for increased funding for and access to expanded learning opportunities for all of Washington’s youth. By engaging with decision makers through site visits, advocacy, and in Olympia, SOWA moves the needle for expanded learning in Washington.

At the federal level, SOWA works in close partnership with the Afterschool Alliance and the National Summer Learning Association

State Priorities

2019 Legislative Priorities

UPDATE: Great legislative session for ELOs. Click here to read what happened! We’ll be updating this page over the coming months as we prepare for the 2020 state legislative session. If you have questions or thoughts, please email David Beard at dbeard@schoolsoutwashington.org.

Learning should continue beyond the school day, and so should young people’s access to high-quality expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) — after school, in the summer and throughout the year. When school is not in session, expanded learning helps parents continue their kids’ education with programs that build lifelong and career skills, improve academic performance, and inspire them to discover their passions.

Research shows that quality expanded learning programs improve attendance, behavior, and grades while building the social-emotional and 21st century workforce skills needed to succeed in school and in life. For the FY19-21 Appropriations, a $2 million budget proviso will:



DCYF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT WORKGROUP   (House Bill 1644/Senate Bill 5665
Per the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services for Children and Youth, prevention is listed as the top priority. However, in the current structure of the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF); there is not a strategy that supports prevention for children and youth over the age of five that: 

A strategic workgroup that includes youth, providers working with youth, and other stakeholders working in concert with the department to develop a prevention and promotion strategy is critical to meeting the overall goals of the new department. This work is critical to improving youth outcomes and ensuring Washington’s children and youth are happy, healthy, safe, and thriving.

CAREER CONNECTED LEARNING AND ELOs   (House Bill 1336/Senate Bill 5327)
Washington State is anticipating 740,000 job openings by 2021. However, data suggests that youth are not prepared with the skills needed to fill most of these jobs. Providing high-quality career connected learning is key to equipping our youth with the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill the needs of a dynamic workforce, take advantage of various opportunities, and pursue a good quality life.

High-quality expanded learning opportunities (ELOs), offered after school and in the summer, are a great mechanism to meet this challenge. ELOs work with youth from elementary through high school helping to deepen exposure to exciting content and develop essential ‘employability skills’, also known as 21st Century workforce skills such as communication, critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, and perseverance. Tapping into the potential of ELOs is a valuable way to enhance career connected learning and provide youth with different career options and pathways to get there.

Working in partnership with the Career Connect Washington Initiative as well as the OSPI Work-Integrated Advisory Committee, we seek funding, improved policies, and partnerships with business and key state agencies to create more afterschool and summer career and work-based exploration and pathway opportunities in middle school and early high school.

OSPI EQUITY IN EXPANDED LEARNING   (House Bill 1163/Senate Bill 5188)
Washington students only spend 20% of their waking hours in the classroom. Partnerships with community-based expanded learning programs can create more time during the day and year to provide enriching experiences for students with activities that complement and amplify classroom-based instruction.

We support State Superintendent Reykdal’s proposed funding to provide grants for up to four demonstration sites to expand or extend the school day or year with the goal of providing more time for instruction and opportunities for enrichment. Priority will be given to schools that are identified for support through the state’s K–12 accountability framework and will link to the ELOs quality efforts and Afterschool and Youth Development Standards to help ensure strong programming and outcomes for our students.


Join the Washington Expanded Learning Opportunities Network to learn more and stay engaged. 


Capitol Funding

Does your program or site have a construction need? Perhaps a new kitchen, playground, or even a new building? The state of Washington offers an often untapped resource for funding brick and mortar expenses, or capital funding, for educational and/or community-based organizations. Expanded learning programs are in a good position to attain capital funding, which includes the Youth Recreational Facilities grant (YRF), the Building Communities Fund (BCF), and Building for the Arts (BFA). We created this issue brief that goes into detail on the issue of capital funding, and the different options available to programs.


Federal Priorities

Protecting 21st Century Community Learning Centers from cuts

President Trump's proposed FY 2019 Budget eliminated 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding stream for afterschool and summer programming.

21st Century Community Learning Centers make sure that children and youth in high-poverty schools are engaged throughout the day and year, and are a crucial support for working parents. The success of these programs in closing the opportunity gap is backed by research. They not only support children afterschool and in the summer, but lead to real academic gains that can help close the opportunity gap. Want to get involved?  Contact your congressional delegation to voice your support to continue funding for this critical program. 


Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act

The Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act is a critical piece of federal legislation that will impact all areas of afterschool and summer meals. For an analysis of the current bill, please visit the Food Research and Action Center.

Federal Appropriations

SOWA and our national partners, including the Afterschool Alliance, are closely monitoring the federal appropriations process.


For questions on expanded learning policy in Washington State or in your community, tips for inviting policy makers to visit your program, and more, please contact David Beard at DBeard@schoolsoutwashington.org