Testimony of Ryllie Danylko, Senior Policy Analyst, before the Committee of the Whole

May 3, 2024
Testimony
Person Testifying: Ryllie Danylko
Title: Senior Policy Analyst, DC Action
Testimony Heard By: Committee of the Whole
Type of Hearing: Budget Hearing

Hello Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers, and staff. Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee today by providing testimony regarding the proposed FY25 budget. My name is Ryllie Danylko, and I am the senior policy analyst for out-of-school time at DC Action. DC Action uses research, data, coalition building, advocacy, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. We are also the home of the DC Out-of-School-Time Coalition, which advocates for equitable access to OST programs for all youth and families in the District. 

I am testifying today to ask the Council to protect existing investments in OST and ensure FY25 funding levels account for increases in overhead operations. Protecting FY24 OST grant budgets in the Deputy Mayor for Education cluster (including OST grants administered by Learn24, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Employment Services) will help ensure that the 30,000+ youth who participate in OST programs funded through these agencies can continue to receive the diverse benefits of afterschool and summer programs. OST programs are lifelines for youth and families in the District. Protecting local funding for OST means that the more than 120 organizations that receive Learn24 grants can keep their doors open in the communities they serve. Please note, however, that the $27.4 million for OST grants in the Learn24 office actually represents flat funding year over year. Flat funding hinders community-based organizations’ ability to keep pace with cost of inflation for expenses like rent, supplies, snacks, insurance, and staff salaries. 

The Committee should ensure that OST grant budgets account for increased programming costs due to inflation, as well as growing indirect costs. The Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act allows nonprofits to claim a minimum 10% indirect cost rate. This amount should be understood as supplemental to – not included in – direct costs when comparing grants to serve the same number of youth year over year. With that in mind, we estimate that fully funding indirect cost rates in compliance with the Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act would bring the total FY25 budget of the Learn24 office to $33 million. We urge you, Chairman, to help find these additional funds to keep organizations whole.

A common challenge small community-based OST program providers face is competing for limited grant funding with better resourced institutions like DCPS and public charter schools, which have recently expanded their offerings for school-based afterschool programming. One way to ensure providers maintain stable access to direct funding from the District is by capping, in the Budget Support Act, the amount of funding the Learn24 office can grant to LEAs to not more than 10% of the office’s grant budget, preserving 90% of direct funding for community-based organizations. 

In addition to protecting Learn24 funding, the Council must preserve funding for DPR’s Recreation for ALL community grants. This grant program, first launched in FY23, provided more than $4 million of support to community-based programs, activities, and events that engaged youth, provided recreation opportunities, and promoted skill development. The grant program was continued in FY24 to provide funding to organizations to expand recreational offerings and provide residents in underserved communities with safe, high-quality events, programs, and affordable recreation opportunities. The mayor’s proposed budget for DPR includes a $1.5 million reduction in the “government subsidies and grants” line, which suggests the Recreation for ALL grants may be decreased from the FY24 levels. If so, the Committee should restore these cuts so that youth who benefitted from OST activities funded by the grants in the previous fiscal year can continue to do so.

Looking ahead, it is critical for the Council to raise new revenue for future years to enable implementation of the Universal OST Amendment Act of 2023, which aims to close the gap in program access by 2035. OST is transformative in the lives of young people, but subsidized programs in DC are currently only serving around 40% of students. In wards 7 and 8, only 33% of youth participate in afterschool programs and only 35% in summer programs. If the District is serious about improving youth attendance, academic outcomes, and public safety, then increasing OST opportunities is imperative. 

DC Action urges the Council to pass a budget that supports all young people by raising revenue to reverse harmful cuts and flat funding levels in the Mayor’s proposed FY25 budget and lay the longer term foundation for investments in universal OST. Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions.