Skip to content

Funding for Afterschool in California: ELO-P Explained

Published: March 2, 2023

Table of contents

    22-23 Afterschool Budget

    The California afterschool budget for the 2022-23 school year was signed on June 30, 2022—and it contained some exciting updates!

    Thanks to amendments to the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P), total available funding for expanded learning for grades K-6 in California is now at a record high of $4 billion. That trickles down to roughly $2,750 per student for many school districts for afterschool and summer programming (this figure depends on attendance rates, which we get into below).  

    That means funding per student for afterschool programming has increased by over 100% compared to the 21-22 year. As Michael Funk, Director of the Expanded Learning Division of the California Department of Education (EXLD), put it after the announcement, “That’s more than the whole state of Idaho receives in Federal funding.”

    However, as any school district administrator will know, access to funds is dependent on following a labyrinthine paper trail, and the requirement for reporting afterwards to prove that all the conditions for funding were met. Local education agencies (LEAs) are tasked with sourcing and maximizing available funds in a process known as “blending and braiding.” 

    Here, we’ll be focussed on California’s unique - and generous - state funding program: the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P).

    LEAs are required to run expanded learning programs—they cannot opt out. As such, we’re here to help LEAs make the most of the record level of funding available.

    You can also read our guide on The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER), federal funding that school districts in California can also access, here

    UPDATE: The proposed 2023-24 budget for education is available to view here. The level of funding for ELO-P is slated to stay the same, at $4 billion.

    How much funding does ELO-P give LEAs for Expanded Learning?

    The fiscal budget for the 2022-23 school budget has been set by the California Department for Education (CDE) and includes ELO-P funds. Total amount available per student depends on student attendance rates, the “Unduplicated Pupil Percentage”, or UPP (unduplicated means that students are only counted once, even if individual students meet multiple criteria).

    For schools where UPP attendance rates meet or exceed 75%, funding per student is forecasted to be $2,750. That’s more than double the amount available last fiscal year ($1,170 - and the upper limit access for last year required a UPP of 80% or more, which means more LEAs can access the upper limit than last year). For schools with attendances below 75%, that amount is $2,052 per student, which has more than tripled the amount received in the previous year ($672 per student). Details of ELO-P entitlements for 22-23 can be viewed in this spreadsheet

    In short, LEAs are receiving a lot more funding in the 22-23 fiscal year than they did previously, with more dollars dedicated to an improved expanded learning experience for each and every pupil.

    Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P): An Overview

    What is the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program?

    ELO-P is state-level funding, unique to California, and applies for grades kindergarten through 6 (K-6). It is intended specifically to create and/or support programs that “do not replicate learning activities in the regular school day and school year.”

    ELO-P is available for all school districts in California, including charter schools and frontier and remote-classified schools. In fact, LEAs cannot opt of ELO-P: the CDE wants to deliver access to afterschool for all students (although, LEAs can defer funding until the subsequent school year if desired).

    We’re going to outline the basics of ELO-P and summarize what’s required of school districts who receive funding. Our summary is taken from the latest version of the bill: AB-185 Education finance: education omnibus trailer bill, which you can read in full here. ELO-P is covered in section 29.

     ELO-P helps school districts create opportunities for students outside of the school day

    What does ELO-P funding cover?

    ELO-P funding can be used for a wide range of afterschool, before school, intersession, summer and other enrichment programs outside of the regular school day.

    However, the language of the bill gives much room for interpretation. It states that ELO-P funds may be used to: “[S]upport pupil access to expanded learning opportunity programs, which may include, but is not limited to, hiring literacy coaches, high-dosage tutors, school counselors, and instructional day teachers and aides to assist pupils as part of the local educational agency’s program enrichment activities.”

    These guidelines open up a lot of different opportunities when it comes to expanded programming, so it will be up to school districts to decide and deliver the level of value students will experience in expanded learning programs.

    Want more education-focused updates in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletter!

    * indicates required

    What are the requirements of ELO-P funding?

    The first requirement of ELO-P funding is that it must be used! Remember, LEAs cannot opt out of running expanded learning programs.

    As with all funding, LEAs have to meet and follow through on a number of criteria to ensure that students are able to make the most of expanded learning. These criteria include:

    • Records of attendance rates (outlined above) for previous school years

    • A plan for how funds will be used

    • Making expanded learning programs available to all students (though students do not have to attend)

    • The ability to provision 9 hours of combined instructional and expanded learning programming for students per school day (including meal and recess time) and for 30 nonschooldays 

    • Advertising expanded learning programs inclusively for all students

    • Programs must maintain a student-to-staff ratio of at least 20:1 (unless working with transitional kindergarten or kindergarten students, where the staff to pupil ratio are required to be at least 1:10)

    • Ensuring that students traveling to schools other than their own for extended learning programs have travel arrangements to and from programs

    • Encouragements to include childcare and other aspects of community support and servicing

    And remember that expanded learning programs should not replicate the regular school day.

    Let’s have a closer look at some of these requirements.

    Who has their ELO-P plans ready?

    ELO-P Plan

    LEAs that apply for ELO-P funding are required to have a plan as part of the funding, programming, and reporting process. Which makes sense - with so much funding on offer, it’s important those funds are put to good use.

    The California Department for Education provides a plan template accessible here.

    ELO-P access for students

    ELO-P funds are intended to be used to give all students access to expanded learning opportunities. 

    For LEAs with at least 80% UPP, all students should be offered ELO-P funded programming. For LEAs with below 80% UPP, at least 50% of students should be offered access. No student should be denied access to ELO-P programming.

    Moreover, part of the bill makes it clear that LEAs should make an effort to be inclusive in how they publicize and recruit students for expanded learning programs through “culturally and linguistically effective and appropriate communication channels.” This guidance is somewhat vague, and it is unclear how or if it would be measured.

    If a student’s school doesn’t offer an expanded learning program but another school in their district does, arrangements must be made and expenses covered to allow that student to take part.

    Parents and Guardians can also request that their child attend a program.

    And while LEAs are required to provision expanded learning for all students, programming remains voluntary. If students do not wish to attend, LEAs cannot be penalized.

    ELO-P Audits

    Nobody likes an audit, but with ELO-P, schools should expect to be audited in the 23-24 fiscal year, where they must prove that funds were used, and that they met funding criteria. 

    Superintendents will withhold funds if LEAs fail to offer or provide access to eligible pupils. There is also a financial penalty if LEAs fail to provide the required number of days and hours set out (for the 175 day school year):

    • 9 hours per day for school days, when afterschool program is combined with instructional programming, recess and meal time

    • 30 non-school days that each amount to 9 hours

    The financial penalty will be withheld funds of “0.0048 times the school district’s apportionment for each day the school district fails to meet the day or hour requirements.”

    As such, it’s important for LEAs to keep and maintain organized records of ELO-P programming. 

    With the right preparation, there's no need to fear an ELO-P audit

    Keep up to date with ELO-P developments

    As we saw with the updates to ELO-P this year, funding criteria can change. While we’ll be working hard to keep this page updated. In the meantime, you can also browse the following resources:

    How Work ED helps educators meet ELO-P funding criteria

    We’re here to make expanded learning programs easy to run, so that more students can benefit. We design our California programs to meet current state funding criteria, so that admins can spend less time cross referencing various bills and paperwork. Most importantly, students genuinely love our programs—and their parents notice the difference.

    We ensure ELO-P funding criteria is met by:

    • Delivering expanded learning programs that get students engaged and develop valuable STEM-themed, digital skills

    • Guaranteed student to staff ratio of 20:1 or better, with well trained, experienced staff eager to help students make the most of expanded learning

    • Programming designed to help LEAs meet day and hour provisioning requirements

    • Creating community opportunities through our high school Teaching Assistant programs

    • Offering technology to help track that all students have been offered programming, and to track signups and attendance rates

    • Running accessible campaigns to help publicize programming to all students, as well as parents and guardians, in places where students will see them, including social media

    • Handling communication, marketing, operations and reporting through our platform, making coordination simple regardless of the logistics of the school district

    We’re happy to talk more about making the most of ELO-P. Let’s take advantage of record afterschool funding and help bring more access to expanded learning for all 6 million students in California.

    Get in touch to discuss expanded learning programs in your school district!

    Don't let those ELO-P funds go to waste—let's create more opportunities for students!