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​Background on 21st CCLC

What is a 21st CCLC Program?

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program provides federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that offer academic and enrichment opportunities to children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects through a broad array of activities that can complement their regular academic programs.

The 21st CCLC program is authorized under Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P.L. 107-110), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2016.

Pennsylvania’s 21st CCLC Goal

Assist youth to meet state standards for core academic subjects by providing them with academic and enrichment opportunities.

Nearly 40,000 students participate in 21st CCLC programs across Pennsylvania. In the 2016 program year, there were over 150 grantees operating 464 centers across Pennsylvania, benefiting over 650 communities.i

Benefits of 21st CCLC programs

Current data and historical findings indicate that the more students that participate in a 21st CCLC program on a consistent basis, the greater the likelihood that they will improve on the various academic and behavioral measures.

  • Students who regularly participate in Community Learning Centers improved their school attendance, class participation and behavior, homework completion, and reading and math achievement scores and grades.ii
  • Regular participation in afterschool programs helped narrow the achievement gap between high- and low-income students in math, improved academic and behavioral outcomes, and reduced school absences.iii
  • Students who engage in extracurricular programs like 21st CCLC have shown better academic performance and behavior,iv and have shown to have statistically significantly higher test scores, bonding to school, and self-perception, with significantly lower problem behaviors when compared to students not in such programs.v

Pennsylvania 21st CCLC Impact

  • Pennsylvania 21st CCLC programs provide a variety of academic and enrichment services to students and their families. Programs implement a variety of academic and enrichment activities intended to influence student outcomes.
  • All Pennsylvania 21st CCLC activities are based on rigorous scientific research. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) provides “principles of effectiveness” to guide programs in identifying and implementing programs that enhance student learning. Activities must address the needs of local schools and communities and are continuously evaluated at the local level.

STEM programming is a priority focus for Pennsylvania 21st CCLC programs.

  • The more students participate in STEM learning opportunities after school, the more interested they become in STEM subjects and
  • Pennsylvania state results from the 2016 Afterschool and STEM System Building Evaluation (80 percent of the respondents were 21st CCLC programs) revealed that students who participated in STEM-focused afterschool programs made a positive impact on their 21st century skills, including perseverance, critical thinking, and quality of relationships with adults and peers.vii
  • 21st CCLC programs help families, engages students participating in the program and inspires learning through academic achievements. The Pennsylvania 2014-15 State Evaluation Report results demonstrate the following outcomes:viii

Helps Families

21st CCLC provides families of students with opportunities for active and meaningful
engagement in their children’s education, including opportunities for literacy and related
educational development.

  • Of the over 4,000 parents surveyed, 83 percent reported they were “very satisfied” with the 21st CCLC program.
  • 96 percent pf parents surveyed either “agreed” or “strongly-agreed” that the 21st CCLC program “offered their child a variety of academic and enrichment activities.”
  • 21st CCLC program staff lead in family engagement opportunities, utilizing open house events, family nights and advisory board meetings and newsletters (93 percent overall), in addition to a variety of other formal and informal methods.

Engages Students

21st CCLC engages students through a broad array of additional services, programs, and activities, such as youth development activities; service learning; nutrition and health education; drug and violence prevention programs; counseling programs; arts, music, physical fitness and wellness programs; technology education programs; financial literacy programs; environmental literacy programs; mathematics, science, career and technical programs; internship or
apprenticeship programs; and other ties to an in-demand industry sector or occupation for high school students that are designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program of participating students.

  • Students attending 21st CCLC programs for 90+ days were most likely to improve regular school attendance.
  • Of the 2,702 students participating in credit recovery activities during this program year, 74 percent recovered one or more courses or credits.
  • From student surveys, 95 percent indicated they were satisfied with their 21st CCLC program.

Inspires Learning

Students in afterschool attend school more often, do better in school, gain skills for success, and are more likely to graduate.ix

  • The following measures demonstrate the educational and social benefits and exhibit positive behavioral changes for participants in 21st CCLC programs:
    • 46 percent improved elementary math and English grades from fall to spring
    • 42 percent improved middle/high school math and English grades from fall to spring
    • 56 percent improved homework completion and class participation (teacherreported)
    • 47 percent improved behavior (teacher-reported)

Funding and Unmet Need

  • 21st CCLC grants are the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to providing afterschool and summer learning opportunities for children and youth and currently the only dedicated source of funding for afterschool in Pennsylvania. Over the last 10 years, unmet demand for afterschool grew by 20 percent, but funding has remained flat.
  • 22 million youth nationwide are eligible to attend Community Learning Centers, but funding allows only 1.6 million to participate. In Pennsylvania, approximately 40,000 students are enrolled in a 21st CCLC. 811,954 students would participate in a program if one was available to them.x xi
  • Only 1 in 3 requests for funding Community Learning Centers are awarded. Over the last 10 years, $4 billion in local grant requests were denied because of intense competition and lack of adequate federal funding.xii In Pennsylvania, out of the approximate 100 grant applications for PA’s 21st CCLC program in 2015, funding was available for less than half of the applicants.
  • The average annual cost of 21st CCLC programs per student is approximately $1500.xiii
  • 85 percent of Pennsylvania parents support public funding for afterschool programs.

Every dollar invested in afterschool programs saves $9 in costs by increasing students’ earning potential, improving the students’ performance at school and reducing crime and welfare costs.xiv

i Data provided by the PA Department of Education (2017)
ii Naftzger, N., Sniegowski, S., Devaney, E., Liu, F., Hutson, M. & Adams, N. (2015). Washington 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Evaluation: 2012-13 and 2013-14. American Institutes for Research. Final201214StatewideEvaluationReport.pdf.
iii Pierce, K. M., Auger, A. & Vandell, D. L. (2013). Narrowing the Achievement Gap: Consistency and intensity of structured activities during elementary school. Unpublished paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Seattle,WA.
iv Heckman and Sanger, 2013
v Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A Meta-Analysis of After-School Programs That Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and Adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294-309.
vi Wai, J., Lubinski, D., Benbow, C. P., & Steiger, J. H. (2010). Accomplishment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and its relation to STEM educational dose. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 860 871
vii The Partnerships in Education and Resilience (PEAR) Institute at McLean Hospital and Harvard University and the Institute for Measurement, Methodology, Analysis, and Policy (IMMAP) at Texas Tech University. (2016). The Afterschool and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) System Building Evaluation.
viii Pennsylvania Department of Education. (2015). 21st Century Community Learning Centers 2013-14 State Evaluation Report. Retrieved September 16, 2016, from
ix Afterschool Alliance. (n.d.). Afterschool Alliance Research.
x National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Title I.
xi Afterschool Alliance. (2016). Afterschool Fostering Student Success in Pennsylvania. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from
xii O’Donnell, P. & Ford, J. R. (2013). The Continuing Demand for 21st Century Community Learning Centers Across America: More Than Four Billion Dollars of Unmet Need. Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success.
xiii U.S. Department of Education. (2015). 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) analytic support for evaluation and program monitoring: An overview of the 21st CCLC performance data: 2013–14.
xiv Brown, W. O., Frates, S. B., Rudge, I. S., Tradewell, R. L. (2002). The Costs and Benefits of After School Programs: The Estimated Effects of the After School Education and Safety Program Act of 2002. The Rose Institute of Claremont-McKenna College.