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June 23, 2010

Organized protests can have an impact, as New Jersey After 3, a nonprofit statewide system of afterschool programs, proved this spring. After the state lopped $5.2 million from this year's budget and took another $10.5 million from next year's, the not-for-profit organized a multiphase protest. In April, it delivered more than 11,000 postcards to Gov. Chris Christie that had been collected at the 114 public schools at which New Jersey After 3 provides services. It also launched two petition drives, one via change.org that collected more than 7,000 signatures. Through these efforts, the group's leadership effectively argued that it had almost equalled the state’s contribution with matching funds of $9 million last year. New Jersey After 3 also asserted that the program, which serves 12,000 urban, suburban and rural communities, would be an asset as the state pursues educational reform and federal grants. The result? It achieved a restoration of $3 million in next year’s budget. It’s not much more than 25 percent of what it expected, but it turned out to be better than most programs that faced cuts.

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