On Friday, March 2, the Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN) honored Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer as a Statewide Afterschool Champion as part of their annual Celebration of Afterschool.

On Friday, March 2, the Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN) honored Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer as a Statewide Afterschool Champion as part of their annual Celebration of Afterschool.

Luetkemeyer’s efforts at the federal level to support the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and rural afterschool programs were among the reasons the organization gave for honoring him with this award. Specifically, last Fall, Luetkemeyer was the only Missouri Republican to vote in support of an amendment to the House budget that helped to restore $100 million to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.

Colleen Abbott, director of the Eldon School District 21st Century Community Learning Center, presented Congressman Luetkemeyer with his award and thanked him for his support of their program, in particular.

In his comments accepting the award, Luetkemeyer discussed the tech skills gap and the important role that afterschool programs can play in exposing youth to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education beyond what they receive during the school day.

In addition to honoring Congressman Luetkemeyer, MASN also presented Senator Roy Blunt a Statewide Afterschool Champion award for his role in supporting 21st Century Community Learning Centers as a member of the Senate leadership and chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Though Senator Blunt could not be at the Celebration of Afterschool, his regional staff member, Hannah Cleeton, accepted the award on his behalf.

Maya Irvine of Camdenton, Missouri was also recognized at the ceremony. Maya is a high school freshman, who was selected as one of five youth nationwide, to participate in the Afterschool Alliance’s inaugural Youth Afterschool Ambassador program. Maya will accompany a team from Missouri to Washington DC in April to meet with members of the Missouri Congressional delegation to talk about the importance of afterschool programs.

Members of the Eldon LEAP team were also recognized as part of the ceremony. Sasha Seaton, Eldon South Elementary LEAP Site Coordinator was recognized for earning her BS in Criminal Justice and Upper Elementary LEAP was recognized for earning the Program of the Month for the month of September.

The Annual Celebration of Afterschool Luncheon is MASN’s way of recognizing afterschool professionals, programs, partners, administrators and champions for their outstanding work throughout the state supporting youth, families, and communities.

“Afterschool programs play a critical role in keeping youth safe and engaged, giving working parents peace of mind, and encouraging youth to learn and explore outside of the classroom,” said MASN Executive Director Terri Foulkes. “It is important that we take the time to recognize the important work being done in afterschool programs throughout Missouri—not only by the professionals in the program—but also those who support programs through advocacy and providing funding and human resources to help them sustain.”

The Missouri AfterSchool Network’s mission is to ensure that all children and youth throughout Missouri have access to high quality, sustainable afterschool programs, regardless of geography, family income, and other potential barriers.