As discussed in previous District Dispatch entries, Congress passed in late December its massive $1.01 trillion CROmnibus bill providing FY15 funding for much of the federal government. With the return of the new Congress on January 6, the discussion on the FY16 budget begins anew and ALA will be fighting for library funding.
For FY15 programs of interest to the library community, the CROmnibus package provided level funding for most programs while a small number of programs received slight increases or decreases. It is safe to say that the appropriations package presents no major new library or educational initiatives.
One example of a library program receiving a slight increase is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which received an increase of $2.3 million (0.2% of its budget). As with many Federal education programs, funding for 21STCCLC is awarded directly to state educational agencies that control how the grants are apportioned. Libraries have opportunities to apply for many of the grants.
The way this program works is that funds are sent to states who then make competitive grants to “local educational agencies (LEAs), community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, or other public or private entities that can demonstrate experience, or the promise of success, in providing educational and related activities. In making awards, States give priority to applications that: (1) propose to target services to students who attend schools identified as in need of improvement under Title I; and (2) are submitted jointly by at least one LEA that receives funds under Part A of Title I and at least one community-based organization or other public or private entity. States must make awards of at least $50,000 per year for a period of 3 to 5 years.”
A good resource for libraries to be aware of for participating in these grant programs is the Afterschool Alliance, which provides good information and knowledge of all things related to 21STCCLC. The Afterschool Alliance is the main national organization advocating for after school programs.
State Education Agency offices are also a good resource of grants, since they are awarded from the state level. A list of contacts for 21STCCLC in each state is available here and State Educational Agencies here.