Barletta Named “Afterschool Hero” for Work on SHINE
Rep. Barletta is presented with an Afterschool Hero cape by Mia Zamudio, a SHINE student from Jim Thorpe, PA.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) has been named an “Afterschool Hero” by the Afterschool Alliance for his strong support and work on learning programs, most notably SHINE in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties. The Afterschool Alliance, an organization which works to promote access to affordable, quality afterschool programs for all children, made the presentation during its Capitol Hill showcase of innovative learning programs. Barletta has been a long-time supporter of SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) and successfully prevented its federal funding from being eliminated.
“When you awaken the minds of young children with hope and possibility of what their future can be, there’s no stopping them,” Barletta said. “That’s what SHINE does. These afterschool programs change the lives and direction of children. It was an honor to meet Mia Zamudio and her friends and see the satisfaction they are getting from learning.”
“The showcase offered a shining example of the kinds of innovative, hands-on learning activities that quality afterschool programs offer students,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “These programs help young people discover their passions and have fun while they learn. At afterschool programs around the country, children and youth are growing, harvesting and selling fruits and vegetables. They are learning computer coding and creating their own virtual worlds. They are engaging with college students and business leaders to expand their horizons. Young girls are running their first races to build self-esteem. We need to increase public and private funding so all students can take advantage of the opportunities afterschool and summer learning programs provide. Rep. Barletta and the other heroes we honored not only support these programs, but also the students, parents and communities that benefit from them.”
SHINE has already been a success in Schuylkill and Carbon Counties and expanded to Luzerne County last fall in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts. It expanded to Hazleton earlier this year. The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum. SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation.
Barletta and Pennsylvania State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) have championed SHINE together, working closely with Luzerne County host institution Wilkes University and its president, Patrick Leahy. Barletta was also instrumental in saving an important SHINE funding source, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program.
Beginning in February 2015, Barletta began painstakingly working to restore the 21st CCLC funding, which had been slated for elimination. Barletta, however, negotiated 14 changes to the base text of the bill in support of afterschool programs, and specifically the SHINE model, in the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He also engaged in a colloquy with committee Chairman John Kline (MN-2) to establish a record of support for such programs. On the floor of the House, Barletta spoke in support of his own successful amendment that requires school districts to report to state agencies on the use of Title I money for afterschool activities to further demonstrate the importance of such programs. Finally, when the legislation reached the conference committee, Barletta sent a letter to lead House and Senate negotiators imploring them to preserve the 21st CCLC program. As a result, the conference report passed authorized $1 billion in funding for the 21st CCLC program.
Currently, SHINE of Luzerne County serves nearly 300 students from five area school districts: Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming Valley West, Nanticoke Area, Hanover Area, and Hazleton Area. The existing programs in Schuylkill and Carbon Counties bring the total number of students to more than 1,000.