Sen. Jon Tester, Vice Chair of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
New bill will create grant initiative for after school programs in Indian Country
WASHINGTON — As the Senate debates the Every Child Achieves Act Senator Jon Tester is fighting to increase opportunities for children by expanding afterschool programs on reservations that are currently not available in many Indian communities.
Tester today introduced legislation that creates a grant initiative to establish or maintain affordable before school, after school, and summer school activities for American Indian and Alaska Native children. According to The Afterschool Alliance, at least 40 percent of Native American parents say they are unable to enroll their child in afterschool programs because they are too expensive.
“Children should not fall behind because they can’t access opportunities outside of the classroom,” Tester said. “Students who participate in extracurricular activities perform better in school and are more likely to graduate. My bill provides tribes the resources to create and maintain safe, nurturing and culturally-aware environments for children that need a place to go beyond the classroom.”
Under Tester’s bill the grants would provide funding for three to five years at a minimum of $50,000 per year. The total amount available for the grants would start at $2 million and increase each year by $2 million for five years.
The grants would allow for federal food assistance and the construction of facilities. The grants would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.