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After School Programs Once Again in Jeopardy

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Students in the "Edgies" program visiting Cornell College last year.

One of the first stories we covered after our launch last spring was the campaign to save almost 90 after school programs that had been threatened by the city’s budget ax.  A petition drive, a big City Hall rally and support from numerous elected officials helped restore the funding.  Now it appears the programs are in jeopardy once again, and keeping them intact may be even more difficult than it was last year.

The funding supports dozens of community-based after school initiatives for 11-thousand New York City kids. Among them, “Edgies,” the Educational Alliance’s successful Teen Center.  Last year, federal stimulus funds saved the day. This time, without more federal money, the prospects look bleak. In the mayor’s preliminary 2011 budget released last month, the program was not funded.  Struggling to close a $4 billion budget deficit, he has made it clear many sacrifices will be necessary.

In the past year, of course, concern about youth violence have been growing.  These after school programs, based in community centers across the city, are seen as deterrents. The proposed budget would also cut many school-based after school programs and the summer jobs program.

Last year, the Educational Alliance led a coalition of community organizations affected by the budget cuts. Now that coalition is re-assembling and coming up with a new strategy to wage an uphill battle. The City Council must approve the budget by June.

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