Illinois ACT Now Coalition

The ACT Now Coalition works towards ensuring that young people in Illinois have access to quality, affordable afterschool and youth development programs. ACT Now is a diverse statewide coalition supported by Illinois families, educators, business leaders, afterschool providers, community advocates, youth organizations, and policymakers from across the state.

  • Through our statewide Afterschool Changes Everything Conference, convened nearly 500 education stakeholders and policymakers to discuss the power of afterschool to drive college readiness and enrollment.
  • Through our Lights On Afterschool event in collaboration with afterschool partners, we brought together policymakers, youth and community leaders to showcase the benefits of afterschool and raise awareness of the need to expand access to afterschool. We also garnered radio coverage of Lights On and America After 3 PM.
  • Through our advocacy on behalf of afterschool – including a Springfield advocacy day – we preserved funding for critical afterschool programs.
  • Key to this ongoing work, we continue to help develop the field’s capacity to weigh in on policy matters and speak with a strong, unified voice on behalf of afterschool. As part of this effort, we have developed an Afterschool Advocates group to act as afterschool spokesmen and “first responders.”
  • The Coalition has nearly completed an intensive, inclusive statewide process to create Afterschool Quality Standards for program providers to use in their quality improvement efforts.
Current Projects and Initiatives: 
  • The Coalition continuously builds new relationships with policymakers, youth programs and other stakeholders.

  • The Coalition will launch the final version of Afterschool Quality Standards and work with programs and stakeholders maximize their impact, while assessing the need for supporting tools and assistance.

  • The Coalition continues to emphasize budget and policy advocacy, working to grow advocacy capacity and expand its Afterschool Advocates program. We will be hosting additional advocacy days, Lights On Afterschool events, and other awareness-raising events. The Coalition is working to fight the Governor’s proposed elimination of Teen REACH.

  • The Coalition continues its partnership with the Community STEM Badging Ecosystem to expand badging of afterschool and STEM programs, so that skills learned in programs can be captured and shared.

  • The Coalition continues to work with stakeholders in support of the School Age and Youth Development Credential. This credential is another important step in the increasing professionalism and focus on quality in the field.