CAPE Emergency Advocacy Needs

 In The CAPE Blog

CAPE Needs Your Help: ISBE miscalculated after-school spending

3/18/24: The fight continues to restore the funding cuts put in place by ISBE. Click here to send your legislator a note in support of S B 2943. To read more about this issue visit this page.


1/24/24:  Governor JB Pritzker will give his budget address to the Illinois Legislature on February 21, 2024.  Please click here to send Governor Pritzker your message supporting additional after-school resources.  


11/7/23  Latest update, Chicago Sun-Times 11/4/23 story Keep After-School Programs Alive Across Illinois. “Lawmakers must do whatever they can to keep after-school programs afloat. Thousands of young people could lose access to programs because of a costly overspending error by the Illinois State Board of Education…”

Full article here:


10/27/23 Chicago Tribune article:After-school programs across Illinois poised to close without supplemental state funding


…”Serving an estimated 42,000 primarily low-income students, the programs need $50 million annually from the state to stay open — and to remedy an accounting error by ISBE that’s already resulted in closures, according to Susan Stanton, executive director of the statewide Act Now coalition of after-school program advocates.
…Of 33 after-school programs that already lost funding in July, 27 have since closed their doors, affecting around 6,000 students across the state, Stanton said.
“It breaks to my heart to know that so many kids were deprived of after-school program opportunities because of this funding error,” state Rep. Theresa Mah, a Chicago Democrat, said at an Act Now news conference Wednesday.”

10/26/23 Thursday Day of Action – Grace Philion, Program Coordinator, and 5 other CAPE representatives attended the ACT Now Day of Action in Springfield, IL at the capitol building. They met with senators and chiefs of staff of school districts relevant to CAPE.


Update: Oct 18, 2023

In the spring of 2023, CAPE learned that ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) had miscalculated its grant spending, which created a gap of  $50 million statewide. CAPE could never have anticipated this set of circumstances. If our legislators don’t act next week, CAPE will face a deficit of $1.4 million next fiscal year, going from serving 13 schools to 3 in after school programming.

Please encourage your legislators to sign on to this letter (also printed below) to demonstrate support to recover the lost funds for after school programs in Illinois. This is vital funding to help CAPE continue to offer its after school programs. 

What you can do:

  • Call or write your legislator now to ask them to support the letter being reviewed in Springfield this October!
  • Post your support for #21stCCLC in Illinois and support after school funding!
  • Keep informed with up-to-date Act Now information, click here

CAPE After School Community Class at Waters Elementary, led by artist Victoria Mendoza and retired teacher Rachel Stempel, signed letters for Representative Williams and Senator Feigenholtz.

Coming next week on Oct 26 – Our own Grace Philion, after school program coordinator, along with CAPE teachers and artists, and other members of Act Now, are headed to Springfield to speak with legislators on this issue!

Governor JB Pritzker, Speaker Chris Welch, and President Don Harmon 401 South 2nd Street Springfield, IL 62701 Dear Governor JB Pritzker, Speaker Welch, and President Harmon:

As members of the General Assembly, we request that leadership prioritize and take swift action to address the funding crisis affecting afterschool programs and to preserve essential services throughout the state of Illinois. During the pandemic, ISBE held more competitions for the federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program than it had annual funding to sustain. This created an unprecedented situation where grants ended, and programs had no opportunity to apply for more funding.

Programs could never have anticipated this change given that 21st CCLC is stable federal funding that has existed for over 20 years.

Due to this error, programs across the state have already shut down. We estimate that this caused 6,000 students to lose programming this past summer, and we anticipate upwards of 40,000 students will lose programming by next summer. If Illinois does not act now, Illinois youth will be at risk and programs that have been in operation and evaluated for five to ten years will close and lose all their institutional capacity and knowledge. Studies show that afterschool programs are sparking students’ interest in school, leading to better school attendance, grades, standardized test scores, and behavior.

1 Afterschool programs also provide a safe haven and help dissuade youth from engaging in risky behaviors on and offline. Studies have found that participants in afterschool programs are 30% less likely to participate in criminal activities.

2 Moreover, afterschool programs are fostering the workforce of today and tomorrow in Illinois by providing essential child care for workers and by exposing youth to new career options and teaching workforce skills.

We request that the General Assembly prioritize pursuing a $50 million annual appropriation to fund community learning centers that will support afterschool programs and community schools.

This funding will ensure that programs that are losing their funding can apply for a new grant and also help stabilize a field that is in desperate need to address student learning loss and has experienced extreme workforce challenges since the pandemic. This legislation would create a new competitive grant program specifically for community learning centers and create five-year grant cycles subject to renewals. The evidence demonstrates that afterschool programming and community schools are winning models that achieve real results for our students.

We ask that Illinois make these investments to not only move the needle for the children, families, and communities that need them most, but ensure that further harm from 21st CCLC closures do not continue.



Summary: On Monday, April 10, CAPE received notice that funding from the Illinois State Board of Education via the 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding for the state cohort FY19 would end by June 30, 2023. This affects two CAPE after-school sites – New Sullivan Elementary and Dyett High School – which will not continue into the 2023-24 school year – a reduction of $300,000 in funding, and 300 students who receive after school programming. Statewide the $12 million loss will affect 27,000 students.

Donate today to help strengthen CAPE!

What can you do?  

May 17, 2023, “..Blunder that could cancel summer programs for thousands of kids…” Alyssa Patric, WANDTV

Illinois State Board of Education UpdateOn May 17, 2023, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) met for its monthly Board meeting. To access the recordings and meeting materials, click here. ACT Now and Abby Boen from Project Success of Vermilion County provided public comment to implore the agency to work with the General Assembly to find $12 million in stop gap funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) FY19 cohort grantees. To learn more about the 21st CCLC situation, click here. You can also take action, by clicking here. Board members did not issue a response on 21st CCLC during public comment nor was it addressed in later presentations or discussion. The next ISBE Board meeting will take place on June 21, 2023. Illinois Lawmakers Still Unable to Pass State Budget Illinois lawmakers were unable to pass the state’s budget onMay 19, 2023. ACT Now is encouraging advocates to contact their legislators regarding the 21st CCLC funding issue when they return to session on Wednesday. Telephone and email language can be found here. To learn more about the 21st CCLC issue click here.

Send the ACT Now Action Alert!

May 23, 2023: CAPE students K-3 draw pictures for legislators to try to reinstate lost funding for their CAPE programs. CAPE Students and supporters of all ages are writing letters to legislators. Send any letters to CAPE and we’ll mail them to relevant addresses for you! 1010 W 35th Street, Suite 697, Chicago, IL 60609.



May 2, 2023 Press Conference, Chicago, IL: Amy Rasmussen, CAPE Executive Director, and teaching artist Jordan Knecht were on hand to support New Sullivan parent liaison Charles Bessett who spoke at a press conference May 2.

Click image to view Press Conference speakers 5/2/23

Click to view full press conference information











April 21, 2023:  After School Programs are at risk: Speakers from Event 4/21/23

Recent Media about the missing 21st Century funds:

5/3/23 Chalkbeat, Chicago, story by Samantha Smylie – “Advocates call on Illinois lawmakers to fund after-school programs after state error,”

5/1/23 Edwardsville Intelligencer, story by – “After-school programs at risk of closure after state board says it miscalculated federal funding: Programs serve thousands of students in low-performing and high-poverty schools,”

4/26/23 WAND TV – Central Illinois – “12K Students Could Lose Afterschool Programs due to ISBE Budget Error,”

4/25/23 Fox Illinois – “Vermilion County after-school programs cut after ISBE funding error,” 

4/22/23 Commercial News – “Funding Error Costs Project Success Six Sites,”

4/22/23 News-Gazette – “Funding Cut Stands to Impact Kids…,”

4/20/23 Chicago Sun-Times – “Illinois After School Programs State Money Federal Grant Editorial,”

4/19/23 WBEZ –

Read A Letter from Amy Rasmussen,  Executive Director of Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education
Monday, April 17, 2023
Dear CAPE Friends,
Today, CAPE needs your advocacy support to help us restore funding for after-school programs!  
On Monday, April 10, CAPE received notice that funding from the Illinois State Board of Education for two of our after-school sites – New Sullivan Elementary and Dyett High School – would not be continued into the 2023-24 school year – a reduction of $300,000 in funding.  In addition, we have also learned that an additional $1,080,000 in funding for eight other sites could be in jeopardy for 2023-24, those sites include Waters Elementary, Telpochcalli Elementary, North-Grand High School, George Washington High School in Chicago, and Currier Elementary, Gary Elementary, Leman Middle and Pioneer Elementary Schools in West Chicago.  This funding provides consistent after-school programs for over 1,000 students, provided by 70 teaching artists throughout the school year and summer.  

ISBE issued this notice not because of a CAPE error or problem but because ISBE miscalculated grant spending for an entire group of after-school grantees, totaling $12,000,000 in after-school programs statewide.   

This program is funded by formula grants to ISBE from the US Department of Education.  The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (21CCLC) enjoys bipartisan support and has been funded, with steadily growing support, each and every year since it was started in 1998.  The 21CCLC grant amount to ISBE is forecasted to be $51,374,438, level-funded from FY23 and FY22.  With stable funding in place for so many years, how can it be that ISBE’s projections were so wildly inaccurate?

With these after-school programs, CAPE provides a continuum of care for at-risk students who would not have access to after-school programs by engaging them in high-quality arts-integrated learning projects.  Students build their academic and artistic skills through CAPE programs by learning digital audio production, improvisatory theater, playwriting, podcasting, community mural making, and other projects.  The students and families in these programs are 53% Hispanic, 40% African-American, and 85% low-income.  It is unconscionable that the Illinois State Board of Education is punishing these vulnerable and at-risk students for its own mistakes.  

CAPE is not alone in this fight.  We are collaborating with the Afterschool for Children and Teens Now Coalition  (ACT Now).  To remedy this situation, legislative action is needed.  The ACT Now Coalition, working with partners statewide, has been in communication with Governor Pritzker’s office, as well as with state legislators.  However, we need your voice of support to make this change a reality.  

Thank you for your support, and let’s all get together on Friday at the gallery (event was 4/21/23) to celebrate the amazing work created by the very programs that are at risk now. More information about Friday’s reception is here. I hope to see you there.

Kindest regards,

Amy Rasmussen
Executive Director
Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education
direct: 312-674-6906


What CAPE does: Take a minute to watch CAPE After School kindergarten through second grade students learn “You’ll Feel Better if you Sing” with teaching artist Aaron Kelly and teacher Urooj Shafi.

CAPE’s 21st CCLC programs

  • Build students artistic skills
  • Support academic achievement
  • Encourage Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Enable parent and community engagement
  • Serve 1,300 students per week! 

CAPE has 3 cohorts of 21CCLC Funding

    • FY19 Cohort:  New Sullivan and Dyett HS ($300,000 per year)
    • FY15 Cohort:  Chicago Schools:  Telpochcalli ES, Waters ES, North-Grand HS, Washington HS (total of $540,000) 
    • FY15 Cohort:  West Chicago Schools: Currier, Leman, Gary, and Pioneer (total of $540,000)
    • FY22 Cohort:  Taylor and Ashe ES ($300,000 per year)
    • Total annual grants from 21CCLC:  $1,140,000

21CCLC Grants background nationally  

  • Federally Funded Program formula funded by the US Department of Education to all 50 states.  Illinois receives about $51,000,000 per year.  
  • 21CCLC started in 1998 and has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress.  
  • Funding has been steady — slowly increasing over the years.  It is predictable. 
  • CAPE applies to the Illinois State Board of Education to receive funding in a highly competitive process.  
  • Once awarded, ISBE provides support for five years, with a one-time five year renewal.  



Fact Sheets from ACTNow Afterschool for Children and Teens

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