Vol. 12 Issue 11 (11/30/2011)
Top Stories
Room for Improvement in All 50 States
Federal Policy News
A Million People Say: Keep the Lights On for Afterschool!
An Afterschool Champion Remembered

In Their Own Words...
In The News
Quick Takes

Room for Improvement in All 50 States
A new assessment of state' progress toward offering afterschool programs to all children who need them finds that many states are making progress, but all have unfinished business to keep kids safe and learning after the school day ends.

The new 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides, which were released by the Afterschool Alliance in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool, measured all 50 states on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best rating. No states received a 5 and only nine states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York) received a 4. Twenty states received a 3; 19 states a 2; and Delaware and Idaho received the lowest rating, a 1.

The Progress Reports were sponsored by jcpenney. They were released on October 20 at the Jacksonville, Florida, Lights On Afterschool event - one of 18 winners of the "Light Up a Landmark" contest sponsored by jcpenney and the Afterschool Alliance.

The new Progress Reports examine how each state is helping keep the lights on for kids and families after school by considering: the availability of and participation in afterschool programs, based on data from the landmark 2009 America After 3PM household survey; recent state policy activity and funding for afterschool programs; and state-level leadership on afterschool from policy makers. They find:

* Twenty-one states are currently funding afterschool programs.
* Thirty-one states have an initiative in place that promotes quality in afterschool programming.
* Only 13 states have passed legislation that directly supports afterschool programs.
* Just 15 states have state-level councils, studies, pilots or ongoing legislative activity designed to advance afterschool.
* Only six states reduced the number of children in self-care in the afternoons from 2004 to 2009, the two years during which national household surveys were conducted.

The Progress Reports also include information for parents on how to find and support afterschool programs in each state. Links to state and national resources for finding programs are available, and parents and non-parents alike are directed to specific action steps that they can take to support afterschool.

"Millions of children in this country are unsupervised and at risk after the school day ends," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "This report should serve as a wake-up call that we need to do much more to make quality afterschool programs available. Even in tough economic times like these, we must ensure that our children get the education and support they need to succeed in school and in life. Afterschool programs are a great investment, providing opportunities for engaging, hands-on learning that often aren't available during the school day."

"As a leading corporate advocate for the afterschool cause, jcpenney is committed to building the resources needed to offer quality afterschool services in every community," said Jodi Gibson, divisional vice president for jcpenney and president of jcpenney afterschool. "By partnering with the Afterschool Alliance to determine the unique needs of every state, families, educators and policy makers can make informed decisions that will make afterschool programs available and accessible to those who need it most."

Scores for the Progress Reports were devised using a range of factors falling under three major categories: growth in afterschool participation; developments in state afterschool policy and funding; and advancements in state afterschool leadership. Data from the America After 3PM survey were used to assess afterschool participation. A total of 29,754 parents/guardians were surveyed between March and May 2009 for America After 3PM. The progress reports also used up-to-date policy and leadership developments obtained from afterschool leaders in the states, most notably the 40 statewide afterschool networks. The 2011 State-by-State Progress Reports and Consumer Guides reflect the data and resources available at the time of their release in October 2011.

The 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides, as well as the America After 3PM study, accompanying data, and information on Lights On Afterschool events, are available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.

Federal Policy News
In early November, the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee passed its version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly called No Child Left Behind. The legislation was co-sponsored by the Committee's chair and ranking member, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY).

The draft legislation first considered by the Committee significantly weakened the role of community-based organizations (CBOs) in expanded learning time and included language that allowed states and school districts to use 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funds to support a comprehensive redesign of the school day. The Afterschool Alliance, YMCA of the USA and the Collaborative to Build After School Systems (CBASS) were among the organizations that reached out to Senate HELP Committee members to express concern over that language and the way the legislation would diminish the role of CBOs as partners in 21st CCLC-supported afterschool, before-school and summer programs.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) submitted an amendment that would have substituted the Afterschool for America's Children Act into the bill and eliminated the provision allowing 21st CCLC funds to be used to redesign the school day.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) worked with CBASS to offer an amendment that made some key changes to the legislation, including: adding language that prevents a federal preference or priority about which approach (afterschool, summer learning, expanded learning for some students, expanded learning for all students) will be used; a stronger requirement for partnerships with community-based organizations, with a narrow exception for rural communities where the requirement would be a significant hardship; clearer language to ensure that either the local education agencies or nonprofit partners can be the lead fiscal agent on 21st CCLC grants; and new language to ensure that grantees use effective and innovative approaches to programs.

The Committee passed the Whitehouse amendment and in the end, all the Committee's Democrats and three Republicans voted for the amended bill.

"It is certainly an improvement over the original legislation," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "But we remain extremely concerned over language in the bill that would allow 21st CCLC funds to be used for expensive school redesign. It seems unnecessary since school redesign is funded elsewhere in the bill through School Improvement Grants - and risky for the millions of students and families who are counting on 21st CCLC funds to keep afterschool, before-school and summer programs open."

"The afterschool community did an amazing job of mobilizing quickly and sending a strong message to Committee members," Grant added. "We will need continuing outreach as the bill moves forward."

As the Afterschool Advocate goes to press, it seems unlikely that the legislation will proceed further in 2011, but it may be considered on the Senate floor next year. It advanced, in large part, due to congressional disappointment in the Obama Administration's waiver plan, and Congress' desire to set education policy rather than having the Administration do so.

A Million People Say: Keep the Lights On for Afterschool!
Some 7,500 open houses, rallies, community fairs, marches, and other events were held in nearly every community in the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide last month for Lights On Afterschool. A million people joined events that featured children's performances, youth art exhibits, science experiments, robotics demonstrations, sports tournaments, spaghetti dinners, and much more. This year marks the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool, organized by the Afterschool Alliance.

Inspired by the "Light Up a Landmark for Lights On Afterschool" contest, dozens of landmarks across the country were lit up in support of the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Eighteen contest winners - among them the Friendship Fountain in Jacksonville and LOVE Fountain in Philadelphia - received cash prizes from jcpenney for their efforts to shine a light on afterschool. The Empire State Building, the first landmark to be lit in honor of Lights On Afterschool five years ago, was also lit up for afterschool on October 20. Click here to see photos from Lights On Afterschool events from around the country.

"All across the country, at some 7,500 Lights On Afterschool events, a million people urged state and federal lawmakers to remember that afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families - and to make afterschool funding a priority," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant.

Congress Supports Lights On Afterschool
The Senate passed a resolution (S. Res. 304) in support of Lights On Afterschool by unanimous consent. It was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME); Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) co-sponsored it.

"Afterschool programs keep our children safe and help them learn," said Senator Barbara Boxer, co-chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus. "In so many communities, afterschool programs are needed to give students access to physical education, arts, music and so many other enriching activities that are increasingly being cut from the school day."

"Afterschool programs can provide a safe and enriching environment for children after the school bell rings," said Senator Susan Collins. "They not only continue to engage young people in academic and physical activities, but they also provide a peace of mind to hardworking parents."

Highlights from Lights On Afterschool Events
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended a Lights On Afterschool event in Chicago this year. "School needs to be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day," he told the crowd. "We can't do this by ourselves. We need community partners. We need the Y, we need to come together."

Among the many diverse and creative events around the country were the following:

Honolulu, HI: Organized by Afterschool Ambassador Paula Adams, several hundred afterschool youth brought Lights On Afterschool lightbulbs to the state capitol for a rally on October 19. Lt. Governor Brian Schatz presented a proclamation in recognition of Lights On Afterschool, then State Senator Chun Oakland and U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI) addressed the crowd. At the rally, comedian and radio personality Augie T led the youth in a cheer - he said "Lights On" and the kids replied "Afterschool."

Duluth, MN: Duluth's Enger Tower was lit up on October 20 to symbolize leaving the lights on for afterschool programs for kids. KBJR News reports that the King and Queen of Norway also visited Duluth last week, but Mayor Ness said the Lights On Afterschool event was more important: "You kids are a lot more important than the royalty that was visiting here because you're going to be here, you contribute to our community and that's what this event is all about."

Harlem, NY: 100 students and supervisors gathered outside the Children's Aid Society at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem for a Lights On Afterschool march to protest city cuts to afterschool programs. This is the third year that the society has organized this march after its afterschool program began experiencing cuts in 2009. Since 2009, afterschool programs citywide have lost 50,000 slots. Youth and supervisors chanted: "What do we want? Afterschool! When do we want it? Now!" as they marched down the street to the State Office Building.

Statesville, NC: 500 youth gathered at Statesville's Harris Park on October 20 to celebrate Lights On Afterschool. Youth performed in a talent show with dance and singing groups from around the county. The Statesville Police Department, Iredell County Sheriff's Office and Trinity Fire Department had presentations and exhibits for the children and a massive jack-o-lantern hot air balloon was inflated and floated above the festivities.

Nesquehoning, PA: More than 500 parents and youth participated in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focused Lights On Afterschool. Many local and state officials attended and lauded the program, calling it a model for education and an invaluable community asset.

Wausau, WI: More than 100 students and their families gathered on October 20 at the Wausau Center Mall and performed in a friendly flash mob to the song "Everybody Have a Good Time." "These after school programs give our community a chance to come together [and] offer learning opportunities for kids that will help boost academic achievement," Wausau School District's 21st Century Coordinator Nancy Cedar told WSAW News Channel 7.

We want to see pictures from your event! Email your event photos to 2011LightsOn.Upload@picasaweb.com. Read more about Lights On Afterschool here.

An Afterschool Champion Remembered
In Chicago and around the country, the afterschool community is mourning the passing of Maggie Daley, one of the movement's greatest and most dedicated champions. The former First Lady of Chicago worked for decades to give children and families the afterschool programs they need. She founded After School Matters in 1991 for the city's high school students.

After School Matters designs and delivers high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship arts, science, sports, technology and communications programs. It is the largest program of its type in the nation providing impactful, life-changing programming to high school teens.

Mrs. Daley is being remembered for her powerful commitment to afterschool programs, and her passion for ensuring that all children have safe, supervised activities after the school day ends. For decades, she educated lawmakers about the need for these programs, raised money to support them, and personally spent time with children and parents at before-, afterschool and summer programs around the city. The Afterschool Alliance honored her at the Afterschool for All Challenge three years ago.

"Countless children in Chicago and around the nation are better off because Mrs. Daley was such a powerful, passionate and effective advocate for afterschool programs," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "We lost a real champion this week. Her legacy is more children staying in school instead of dropping out, going on to college, learning to love science and the arts, and staying out of trouble during the sometimes-perilous after school hours. It is a proud legacy and one we will do our best to honor with our continuing work."

Maggie Daley died last Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her husband and three children.

In conjunction with Lights On Afterschool, the Afterschool Alliance released an assessment of each state's progress toward offering afterschool programs to all children who need them. The 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides found that many states are making progress, but all have unfinished business to keep kids safe and learning after the school day ends. The Progress Reports were sponsored by jcpenney.

As you wrap up your Lights On Afterschool media outreach, consider submitting a letter-to-the-editor that draws on the Progress Reports to discuss information on the availability of afterschool programs in your state. Be sure to personalize the letter with data from your state's progress report. Click here for the data.

Sample Letter-to-the-Editor

To the Editor:

Recently the afterschool community in [community name] celebrated the great work being done in afterschool programs in the area and around the country, joining in the national Lights On Afterschool celebration. But we all know there's more to do before every child who needs an afterschool program has access to one.

A new report prepared by the Afterschool Alliance and sponsored by jcpenney makes that point crystal clear. In the 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides, [state] scored a [#] on a 1 to 5 (worst to best) grading scale. That means that despite the progress we celebrated in October, we've still got a long way to go.

Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. In tough economic times like these, we need to be doubly sure that our children get the education and support they need to succeed in school and in life. That's why I'm urging our state and federal lawmakers to remember the critical importance of afterschool programs, and reminding them that funding for afterschool programs must be a priority.


[Your Name]
[Affiliation, If Appropriate]
[Address and Phone - this is for the paper to reach you if they have any questions, it is not for publication]

Funding News
The Afterschool Alliance's website has numerous resources for afterschool providers looking for new ways to raise money for their programs, including tips for initiating relationships with funders and businesses, and for identifying funding opportunities.


Scholastic Book Grants
Scholastic is sponsoring donations of 500 to 1,000 books to nonprofit organizations that foster literacy and a joy of reading among at-risk youth and families. Scholastic is particularly interested in promoting literacy in inner-city and rural areas. Click here to download an application. The deadline is rolling.

Grants for Peace Gardens
In an effort to help schools sow the seeds of respect, the National Gardening Association will distribute 50 award packages - a value of more than $500, including $400 in gardening supplies and $100 for soil amendments and plants - for the Muhammad Ali Peace Center Peace Garden Grant program, sponsored by Yum! Brands Foundation. The group recognizes and supports youth gardening programs focused on peace and hunger awareness in the United States and around the world. To be eligible, a school or organization must plan to garden in 2012 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. Schools in the United States must have a student body eligible for 50 percent or more reduced or free lunch. Applications must be submitted by January 9, 2012. For more information, click here.

Scholarships to Study Abroad
The U.S. State Department is sponsoring merit-based scholarships for high school students to study foreign languages and cultures overseas. The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program offers scholarships to spend a semester or academic year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, and Turkey. The post 9/11 program focuses on increasing understanding between people in the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations. The deadline to apply for the 2012-2013 school year is January 11, 2012. For more information, click here.

In Their Own Words at Lights On Afterschool
"Lights On Afterschool celebrates the importance of keeping our most vulnerable children safe during the risky after school hours, and using that time to inspire and enable these same students to become productive, responsible and caring citizens... I have seen firsthand what programs accomplish in the lives of children. I encourage everyone to get involved in some way to make sure all our children are successful in finishing school, and developing the work ethic and character that will make them great Americans."
-- U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), October 21, 2011

"Our children need safe quality opportunities in schools and neighborhoods to continue learning, develop leadership skills, and try new activities when the school day ends. Afterschool programs fill this need and are developing our next generation of community leaders."
-- U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL), October 20, 2011

"You heard Jodi Grant [Afterschool Alliance Executive Director] tell you that Florida is good on afterschool. But in Jacksonville, we're the best in Florida, and that's because our lights are on after school."
-- Jacksonville Education Commissioner Dr. Donnie Hunter, October 20, 2011

"Afterschool programs provide an invaluable service to our nation's children, particularly for those who do not have access to a safe and productive environment after the traditional school day is over. Additionally, these programs often help students in Adams County and other communities meet education standards in core academic subjects, offer enrichment activities that can complement their academic programs, and provide other educational services."
-- U.S. Representative Todd Platts (R-PA), October 20, 2011

"It's really exciting that this year's local Lights On Afterschool celebration was hosted right here in NASA's Rocket Garden... Afterschool programs give kids time to get some homework done, to focus on their studies and to have a chance to be with your friends... The programs are such an important part of our community and the number of kids in afterschool programs keeps increasing. The demand for quality afterschool programs, like many of those right here in Brevard County, the demand is very, very high... This Rocket Garden is the perfect location to celebrate these programs and to encourage our students to keep dreaming big."
-- U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), October 20, 2011

"Right here in Philadelphia, we are painting the town blue in recognition of October 20th being recognized as Lights On Afterschool Day. Boat House Row, the Love Park Fountain water and the PECO building's Crown Lights are all blue today. I am excited to be a part of the only national rally in support of afterschool programming. Schools provide the social interaction and academic skills that our young people need to succeed but learning shouldn't end when class lets out. After school programming keeps kids safe and out of trouble, inspires learning, helps working families know their children are in good hands, encourages our young people become better students, find their passions and develop into responsible citizens. "
-- Philadelphia, PA Mayor Michael Nutter, October 20, 2011

Developed to meet the unique needs of special education students, a new afterschool program offering therapeutic and enrichment activities along with a focus on literacy and school achievement kicked off earlier this month in Hollywood. The new program, Endless Summer, is turning Hollygrove's summer and holiday therapeutic day camp into a year-round afterschool program. Hollygrove Executive Director Martine Singer said, "Special education students have even fewer opportunities for tutoring and enrichment than most children," adding, "Endless Summer gives us the opportunity to help even more children in the community."

Once a month for the past four years, Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije visited Alex Haley Academy to encourage students to "keep up the good work" and "keep working hard." Idonije motivates the students, who call themselves Izzy's Kids, and rewards students with high and perfect school attendance with roller skating parties, bowling trips or a chance to see a Chicago Bears football game, NBC News reports. Idonije is passionate about education. Before Idonije was in the NFL, he ran an afterschool program.

Thanks to donations from the West Bank Rotary Club, the city of Gretna and private citizens, the West Bank Boys & Girls Club plans to reopen later this month. The Club had shut down in August because of financing problems and was scrambling to secure funding. The West Bank Boys & Girls Club President Michael Grodsky told the Times-Picayune, "The Club has been fortunate to be embraced by the community so that it can continue to provide afterschool care for children who otherwise would have no place to go."

Principal Ronnie Sims of Brenda Scott Academy spends his time after school teaching young men how to be gentlemen. In The Gentlemen's Club, 80 boys learn the three R's - respect, responsibility and reasoning. "Twice a week, the boys gather in the gymnasium to learn how to properly shake hands, maintain eye contact and dress neatly," the Detroit Free Press reports. Sims said he hopes the program will help the young men break the cycle of male irresponsibility.

About 100 afterschool students in Columbus learned about pedestrian safety on October 5 - International Walk to School Day. Students learned the basics of crossing the street, watching for cars and traffic signs and the importance of using crosswalks and waiting for a crossing guard, the Columbus Telegram reports.

North Carolina
After a funding shortage forced Buncombe County Schools to cut some of its arts programs, local nonprofit First Stage Youth Theatre stepped in to run a drama-based afterschool program. Once a week for 10 weeks, students meet at North Buncombe Middle School. They are planning a performance at the end of the term with the proceeds benefiting the First Stage program, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. More information on First Stage is available online.

A pilot project in Lima has kids falling in love with the violin, the Lima News reports. Area nonprofit The Music Factory has partnered with Maplewood Community Center to provide a free afterschool program teaching violin lessons. A program volunteer said they use the program as a reward for kids who are behaving, "We have some kids here with significant behavior problems, some in counseling. We've had a total turnaround, because they so much want to go."

LA's BEST Youth Continue to Succeed
"A student who attends LA's BEST in elementary school is more likely to go on to middle school to get higher grades, have stronger math skills, and be better prepared for standardized tests," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in announcing the results of an independent study on the effectiveness of LA's BEST earlier this month. LA's BEST is the largest non-profit elementary afterschool program in California.

The Center for Research on Evaluation, Student Standards and Testing at UCLA (CRESST) analyzed data from student GPAs, standardized test scores, and course-taking patterns in middle school, and included a comparison between students who had participated in LA's BEST in elementary school and those who had not.

The UCLA CRESST study concluded:

* LA's BEST students demonstrated gains in math, language arts, science and history in middle school;
* The longer students attended LA's BEST, the better their results in middle school;
* LA's BEST participants demonstrated higher California Standardized Test scores in general math and algebra; and
* LA's BEST participants are more likely to take algebra in eighth grade.

LA's BEST expanded to seven new locations this year and now serves more than 28,000 kids at 186 elementary school sites in neighborhoods most vulnerable to gangs, drugs, crime and at schools with the lowest student test scores.

For more information on LA's BEST, click here.

Newsstand - Afterschool on America's Opinion Pages
"On Wednesday, hundreds of school children and their parents will gather at the Capitol to participate in a rally showing their support for Hawaii's afterschool programs. The next day, Oct. 20, is the 12th Annual Lights On Afterschool Rally, a national event organized by the Afterschool Alliance to highlight the importance of afterschool care; to give our youth a chance to showcase the skills they learn at their afterschool programs; and most important, to send a strong message that there are thousands of kids in need of afterschool care... We need to work together as a community to make sure every family that needs an afterschool program has access to one. We also need to spread the word these programs do work. After all, they keep our kids safe, provide help to Hawaii's many working families, inspire our kids to become better students and, ultimately, lead to a better future."
-- Diane Tabangay, "Afterschool Programs Work, Need Support," Honolulu Star Advertiser, October 16, 2011

"In a time of great fiscal stress for public school systems, state and local government and nonprofit organizations, advocates of afterschool care clearly have their work cut out for them in expanding access. The cause is clearly an important one. With better care options, children can greatly improve their chances to succeed in school and become productive citizens. That should be an especially urgent consideration in Louisiana, where low rates of high school and college graduation and high rates of poverty have gone hand in hand for generations... We don't expect quick progress in expanding access to afterschool care for Louisianas youngsters, but the YWCA's Center for Family Empowerment has taken an important first step in making parents aware of the afterschool options that already are available. On Thursday, CFE and a host of community partners will host a Louisiana Lights On Afterschool Expo & Rally... We commend the CFE, the Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning and its partners for promoting greater access to after-school programs for Louisiana's youngsters. We hope their efforts bear fruit."
-- "After-School Care for Kids," Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate, October 18, 2011

"At our program 'after school' is not an 'afterthought.' Our staff puts energy into providing a fun, supportive, safe place for children to unwind, relax, run around outdoors, begin homework or talk about their day. Structured yet flexible to each child's interests and needs... School-age children continue to need a supportive, safe and caring place after school."
-- Afterschool program director Christine Eckes in a letter-to-the-editor, "After-School Article, Program Earn Praise," Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal, October 19, 2011

"The commission's afterschool programs are at more than 60 afterschool sites, serving 30 percent of Jacksonville's low-income children. There still is much to be done, but that should not tarnish all the good work that is being recognized nationally. When these children grow up, they are far more likely to be productive citizens because of these afterschool programs."
-- "Validated as One of the Nation's Best," The Florida Times-Union, October 20, 2011

Middle School - A Great Time for Afterschool Service-Learning and Literacy Programs
The Afterschool Alliance has released two new MetLife Foundation Issue Briefs examining service-learning and literacy in afterschool, with an emphasis on the middle school years.

Children in middle school are especially well positioned to grow from volunteering and developing service projects, but it is often difficult for students to find service-learning opportunities within the school day. Afterschool programs are uniquely positioned as a learning space that is separate from - yet connected to - the school day. They can provide volunteer and service opportunities that impart valuable lessons about service to middle school youth, while also tying in lessons from the school day.

Service-learning incorporates meaningful community service with learning objectives and reflections. For example, a service-learning project can include an academic component, allow youth to plan their own project and offer group discussions and brainstorming sessions, focus on learning about broader social issues and include reflection on goals and outcomes through discussions, writing or presentations.

"Service-learning offers students the ability to truly learn and grow from their experiences and offers them the opportunity to directly create positive change with projects they conceptualize and carry out," the Issue Brief says.

The Brief offers statistics on the academic gains and the social and emotional impacts of service-learning programs, as well as examples of how afterschool programs across the country are promoting service-learning.

Many students struggle to develop a strong command of written text into their high school and even adult years. Without literacy skills, students will struggle with other forms of learning.

Middle school is a particularly important time to intervene and ensure that children are on the right track toward proficient literacy. Although reading and writing abilities are first developed in elementary school, a recent study found that sixth graders who failed math or English/reading have only a 10 to 20 percent chance of graduating high school on time. Intervening during the middle school years is critical.

Afterschool programs are uniquely positioned to help students who are falling behind in basic literacy skills. Low-income students in particular may lack opportunities to learn at home or in the classroom, so literacy intervention at afterschool programs can help underserved youth build brighter futures.

"More time to learn in an afterschool program that provides innovative literacy enrichment opportunities can be a great avenue for middle school students to make academic advances in the classroom and developmental advances in life," the Issue Brief says.

It offers statistics on the achievement gap and how afterschool programs across the country are using innovative approaches to promote literacy.

These new Issue Briefs are part of a series examining the vital role played by afterschool programs. They are sponsored with generous support from the MetLife Foundation. The Briefs on service-learning and literacy are the final installment in a series of four that address critical issues facing middle school youth and the vital role afterschool programs play in addressing their needs. Other Briefs address the importance of aligning afterschool with the school day, and bullying awareness and prevention.

Read the new Issue Brief on service learning here and the new Issue Brief on literacy here.

Fill Up on News at Afterschool Snack!
How successful is afterschool in engaging youth in STEM activities? How can afterschool programs access funding to provide meals? Who won the national Lights On Afterschool poster contest? Find out all this and more in recent Afterschool Snack posts. Some examples below include:

* Celebrating Afterschool Couldn't Come at a Better Time
* A Lights On Afterschool Poem
* Arkansas and Mississippi Pilot Incentives for Summer Food Service Programs
* STEM Education A Big Winner in the Department of Education's Investing in Innovation Awards

And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for a national news round-up, and throughout the week for your daily dose of afterschool. Check out Afterschool Snack here.

Mark Your Calendars
* December 7 - 9, 2011
The Best Out-of-School Time Collaborative will host the Healthy Behaviors Conference: Changing Lives, Saving Lives in San Diego. The conference for K - 12 out-of-school-time educators will explore strategies to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles for today's youth. Workshop topics will address physical activity, childhood obesity prevention, gardening, family advocacy, best practices and more. For further information, click here.

* January 27, 2012
Learning in Afterschool will convene leading experts in downtown Berkeley in the fields of brain research, the new science of learning and youth development for a one-day TED-like conference for out-of-school time program leaders, educators and afterschool stakeholders. The Bay Area conference will share innovative approaches to promoting learning outside of the classroom. Registration is open. Click here for more information.

* February 15 - 18, 2012
Foundations, Inc. will hold its 15th annual Beyond School Hours conference in Burlingame, California. Thousands of afterschool advocates will gather for professional development, and will hear from Geoffrey Canada, author and president/CEO of Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, and other experts. For more information, click here.

* March 16 - 17, 2012
Presented by THIRTEEN and WLIW21, this Premier Professional Development Conference brings together more than 10,000 educators at the Hilton New York in New York City. The event will bring experts from all 50 states and content on arts, global awareness, health and wellness, instructional technology, social studies, special education, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and other topics. Attendees will experience four distinct learning environments through six plenary sessions, more than 40 featured speaker sessions and 100 hands-on "In the Classroom" workshops. Early bird registration is available through December 16. For more information, click here.