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Draft U.S. Department of Education Guidance on 21st Century Community Learning Centers

Wallace Foundation comments on draft non-regulatory guidance for Title IV of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program
July 5, 2023


Wallace submitted this letter in response to an invitation to comment on the U.S. Department of Education's Draft Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title IV Part B, Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. 

The department last issued non-regulatory guidance about the 21st Century program in 2003. Much research about afterschool and summer programming has appeared in 20 years since. The update of non-regulatory guidance for the program, then, allows the department to highlight what has been learned to date. 

Based on Wallace-commissioned research from its efforts in summer and afterschool programming, as well as other research, Wallace urges that the guidance attend to three areas and makes a number of recommendations for each: 

  • Eligibility for funding. For example, the guidance could be consistently clear that funding for summer programs is allowable. 
  • Focus of programs. For example, the guidance could strongly suggest that program evaluations be tied to program goals. 
  • State implementation. For example, the guidance could be as clear as possible that quality improvement efforts, which are often carried out by intermediaries, are eligible for funding. 
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