Vol. 12 Issue 8 (08/31/2011)
Top Stories
Back to School... & Afterschool
Keep the Lights On for Afterschool
New 'You for Youth' Website

Outreach
Funding
In Their Own Words...
In The News
Resources
Quick Takes
Calendar

Back to School... & Afterschool
As students prepare backpacks, lunchboxes and notebooks for their return to school this fall, all across the country parents are worrying about what their children will do each afternoon.

More than 15 million children in the United States are unsupervised after the school bell rings. Instead of getting tutoring and homework help, and learning to build robots, digitize music videos, tend community gardens, stitch quilts for nursing home residents, or take advantage of other enriching, educational activities offered by afterschool programs, many of these children are alone and at risk. Studies have shown that between 3 to 6 p.m., juvenile crime increases and youth are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors including alcohol and drug use and sexual activity.

"Afterschool programs are a crucial safety net for working families. They allow parents to be more productive at work because they know that their kids are learning and exploring their interests under the supervision of caring, qualified adults. And students thrive from the hands-on experiences that afterschool programs provide," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant.

Congress is debating education funding and policy this fall, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) may be affected. The chief federal funding stream for before school, afterschool and summer learning programs, 21st CCLC supports rural, urban and suburban afterschool programs. The funds it provides are a vital lifeline for many programs and the schools, families and communities they support.

Recently introduced by three strong afterschool champions, the bipartisan Afterschool for America's Children Act (S. 1370) would strengthen 21st CCLC. This legislation supports innovation in before school, afterschool and summer learning programs. It makes a commitment to federal afterschool funding, which can be used to leverage state, local, private and philanthropic support, and it recognizes the significant unmet need for afterschool programs by ensuring that local communities can make a choice about what afterschool programs best meet the needs of its children and families.

To date, more than 120 local, state and national organizations have indicated their support for the Afterschool for America's Children Act, which was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Begich (D-AK) quickly signed on as co-sponsors.

"The Afterschool for America's Children Act would strengthen afterschool programs, even in a climate in which budgets are being cut," Grant said. "That is why we are asking parents, teachers and others to take a moment during this back-to-school season to urge their Senators to co-sponsor this critical bill."

The Afterschool Alliance has a sample email of support here. To learn more about the Afterschool for America's Children Act, visit the Afterschool Alliance's policy news page. Read the Outreach section in this issue of the Advocate to learn more about ways to spread the word about the bill.

Keep the Lights On for Afterschool
Grab a bike and pick your favorite local landmark to illuminate! It's time to get ready for the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool.

This year the Afterschool Alliance has added many new ways to get creative and get involved in the nation's only national rally for afterschool programs. From a championship bike race in Washington, D.C. to a contest open to communities large and small, Lights On Afterschool offers something for everyone. It is set for Thursday, October 20, and in recent years has included some 7,500 events throughout the United States and at U.S. military bases worldwide.

Kicking Off with a Ride for Afterschool
This year afterschool supporters will be able to get their legs pumping and their hearts racing in the nation's capital to kick off Lights On Afterschool. The Afterschool Alliance is the Kids' Afterschool Initiative Sponsor of the Capital Criterium, a professional cycling event and the final race of USA Cycling's exclusive 2011 national racing calendar.

As professional cyclists race down Pennsylvania Avenue, children and youth from Washington, D.C., will get to race on the same course and participate in a host of cycling and bike safety events on the National Mall. The youth races will highlight the importance of physical fitness in the after school hours.

"We've long known that afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. But these days afterschool programs do much more, including providing the space for children and youth to get fit, participate in healthy outdoor recreation, and learn about nutrition and wellness," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "With national childhood obesity rates higher than ever, afterschool programs have stepped up to help kids develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime. This is why we are delighted to partner with the Capital Criterium, and get off to a racing start for Lights On Afterschool this year."

The Capital Criterium will take place on Sunday, October 2.

Megawatts for Afterschool
The Empire State Building, Los Angeles' Lindbergh Beacon and even Mt. Rushmore have all lit up in honor of Lights On Afterschool. This year, thanks to support from longtime afterschool champion jcpenney, the Afterschool Alliance is sponsoring a contest to light up even more cities and towns in celebration of afterschool.

The 'Light Up a Landmark for Lights On Afterschool Contest' asks, "What are your plans to shine a spotlight on the importance of afterschool in your community?" The contest invites programs to select local landmarks to light up and raise awareness for afterschool.

Eleven sites will be selected nationwide to receive awards: one $5,000 Megawatt award and ten $1,000 Spotlight awards.

"Through the years, jcpenney has provided tremendous support to afterschool programs. We are thrilled with its megawatt contribution to this year's Lights On Afterschool," Grant said. "Our goal is to have communities in every corner of the country identify a meaningful place and light it up for afterschool. We want to brighten October 20 and shine a spotlight on the vital enrichment opportunities taking place after the school day ends."

Contest applications are due by September 23, and winners will be selected by October 1.

Keeping the Lights On
In recent years, in advance of Lights On Afterschool, the Afterschool Alliance released special reports from America After 3PM: A Household Survey on Afterschool in America - the most in-depth study ever to explore how America's children spend their afternoons.

The study found that 15 million children - more than a quarter of children in the U.S. - are alone and unsupervised after school. The parents of 18 million would enroll their children in an afterschool program, if one were available.

Lights On Afterschool is designed to raise awareness about the urgent need for more afterschool programs, and during Lights On Afterschool this year, the Afterschool Alliance, in conjunction with jcpenney, will release 50 state progress reports that examine how each state is helping keep the lights on for kids and families after school. The progress reports review state policies, funding and other activities that affect afterschool programs, examine the need in each state for these programs, offer tips to parents seeking afterschool programs for their children and suggest ways that all state residents can support afterschool.

To learn more about Lights On Afterschool, and to register an event, click here. To participate in the contest, click here.

New 'You for Youth' Website
Afterschool providers welcomed a new resource from the U.S. Department of Education at this year's 21st Century Community Learning Centers' Summer Institute. The You for Youth website is an online tool for professional development, targeted specifically for afterschool providers. Along with hundreds of workshops and breakout sessions, it helped make this year's event a success.

At the Summer Institute, providers took part in workshops on data collection, funding, youth entrepreneurship, family engagement, rural youth, aligning with the school day, and other topics.

The Afterschool Alliance's Director of STEM Policy, Anita Krishnamurthi, contributed to a workshop examining federal and state policy initiatives related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and presented new research demonstrating the power and potential of STEM learning in afterschool programs. Learn more about STEM in afterschool here.

Focusing on Professional Development
One of the biggest reveals at the Summer Institute was the launch of the You for Youth website. It has everything from discussion boards to webinars to online courses for afterschool providers, addressing topics such as project-based learning; aligning with the school day; science, technology, engineering and math; and strengthening partnerships between community-based organizations and schools. The site's coaching models help providers develop skilled staff members, and the site offer tips on how best practices can be incorporated into existing programs.

The You for Youth's research-based afterschool toolkit offers videos and sample lessons on topics ranging from arts to literacy to math and homework. The website also includes an interactive state-by-state 21st CCLC "program finder" that helps programs locate and connect with others in their state. This video explains more about what the website offers and how providers can use it.

The Summer Institute took place in Maryland in late July. It was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and jcpenney.

A Call for Co-Sponsors for Smart, Much-Needed Afterschool Legislation
The Afterschool for America's Children Act (S. 1370) would reauthorize 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) and support innovation in before school, afterschool and summer learning programs. Read more about it in "Back to School... & Afterschool."

This bill is vitally important to afterschool's future, and the more co-sponsors who sign on, the stronger message it sends. There are many ways you can spread the word about this critical bill, and encourage your Senators to sign on.

The easiest way is to email or call your Senators and tell them about how important 21st CCLC funding is to you and your community. The Afterschool Alliance has a quick email link here.

You can also reach out to your Senators by posting on their Facebook pages, and ask parents to do the same.

To reach a broader audience, send a letter to the editor to your local newspaper. A sample letter is below. This language can also be adapted for a blog post, if your organization has a blog. To learn more about reaching Congress, click here.

Sample Letter-to-the-Editor on the Afterschool for America's Children Act
To the Editor:

Nationwide, the parents of 18 million children say they would sign their kids up for afterschool programs, if programs were available to them. Unfortunately, in most cases they aren't. [Insert a sentence on waiting lists or unmet need for afterschool in your community.] One reason is that lawmakers have not funded nearly enough programs to keep all of our kids safe, supervised and with opportunities to learn after the school day ends.

Parents know that afterschool programs keep kids safe during the sometimes perilous afterschool hours, inspire them to learn and help working families. Afterschool programs offer students homework help, mentoring, and chances for interactive, hands-on learning in science, arts and other subjects that are disappearing from the regular school day. [Insert a sentence about your program and the activities it offers.]

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA), have introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act. It would: authorize funding for afterschool programs; strengthen school-community partnerships; encourage innovative ways to engage students in science, technology and math; and much more. Such legislation is long overdue. Let's hope Congress acts quickly to pass it!

Sincerely,

[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.

GRANTS/AWARDS AVAILABLE

Grants for Playground Restoration
Communities that have maintained and "spruced" up their local playgrounds in the last 60 days are eligible for $750 grants from KaBOOM! and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. The Let's Play Spruce grants can be used to make playgrounds cleaner, safer and more inviting. The deadline to apply is September 15. For more information, click here.

Grants for Fighting Childhood Hunger
Youth Service America is sponsoring Sodexo Youth Grants for youth-led initiatives designed to help end childhood hunger. Twenty-five grants of $500 will be awarded to youth who engage their communities during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, November 13-20, to fight local childhood hunger. The deadline to apply for the grants is September 16. For more information, click here.

Award for Service-Learning
The National Youth Leadership Council is accepting nominations for the Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award, which recognizes a young person whose life has had a distinctive impact on service-learning. The winner will receive travel, lodging and registration for the National Service-Learning Conference in Minneapolis, April 11-14, where the award will be presented. The deadline to apply is September 23. For more information, click here.

Grants for Out-of-School Time Research
The Robert Bowne Foundation is sponsoring the 2012 National Afterschool Matters Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. Research Grants on behalf of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time. The award will fund four $10,000 grants for research on out-of-school time supporting original empirical research in or about community-based youth programs during the non-school hours or research syntheses or policy analyses of community-based youth programs. The deadline to apply is September 30. For more information, click here or call 917-418-3780.

Grants for School Improvement
Lowe's is awarding grants of $2,000 to $5,000 through its Toolbox for Education Grant Program to public schools and public school parent-teacher groups for school improvement projects. Because of challenging financial times, priority will be given to project ideas that address basic needs. Applications will be taken until October 14 or until they have 1,500 applicants. For more information, click here.

Grants for Health Literacy Programs
The UnitedHealth HEROES program is sponsoring grants of $500 to $1,000 for health literacy programs that engage youth in service-learning to fight childhood obesity. Schools, service-learning coordinators, nonprofits and students in health professions are eligible to apply. The deadline is October 17. For more information, click here.

In Their Own Words...
"The American ideal of lazy summers filled with fun has an unintended consequence: If students are not engaged in learning over the summer, they lose skills in math and reading. Summers off are one of the most important, yet least acknowledged, causes of underachievement in our schools. Decades of research confirm that summer learning loss is real... A 2010 report by the Afterschool Alliance found that, while only 25 percent of students participated in summer learning programs, 83 percent of parents supported spending public funds on such programs and 67 percent of low-income parents said their children would enroll in a summer program if they could... Americans cherish the notion of summer as a time of relaxation and fun, but it comes at a heavy cost to poor students and the schools that serve them... Until our nation addresses summer learning loss, efforts to close the achievement gap will continue to fall short."
-- Jeff Smink, vice president for policy at the National Summer Learning Association, This is Your Brain on Summer, New York Times, July 27, 2011

Voices from the Afterschool Storybook...
"I wanted to give back to a program like the one I had attended as a middle schooler. Without that program... I don't want to think about the kind of trouble I might have gotten into."
-- Stefon Reed, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

To read the story by Reed, and read more afterschool voices from across the country, click here. Share your story here.

California
Cesar Chavez Plaza was filled with more than 500 dancing children last month. They were part of a "flash mob" - a large group that gathers in a public place for what seems to be random dancing or singing. But this was no random act; the students of the Sacramento START summer program had been practicing their routine since June. "It was a great learning experience for the kids - working on something day in and day out and walking away with something that might have been hard for them to do in the beginning," program coach and mentor Louis Ceriani told the Sacramento Bee. Watch a video clip of the flash mob here.

Florida
Youth with intellectual disabilities will have an afterschool program to address their specific needs this fall, thanks to a Brandon resident whose mother's work with the Special Olympics inspired him to create the program. The TRIDENT (Training and Recreation for the Intellectually Disabled Enhancing Natural Talents) program at the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center will offer active recreation and life skills lessons like laundry, shopping, hygiene and social behavior. The program will also offer field trips where students can apply their new skills, like taking a bus to see a movie after learning how to count cash and understand transactions, the Tampa Tribune reports.

Massachusetts
The elderly and those in need in Leominster will get hand-made blankets this fall, sewn by students from the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts afterschool program. The students will stitch together pre-made quilt squares, donated by the community, to make lap blankets to donate to Ginny's Food Pantry and Elder Summit Care, the Sentinel & Enterprise reports. Afterschool volunteer and project leader Paige Smith hopes students will learn the importance of giving back through the project. "So they get a sense of coming full circle," she said. "The community supports the Boys & Girls Club and the club gives back... A little lap afghan that the kids make, it means a lot to [the elderly], or the people Ginny donates to."

Minnesota
Future circus performers and Olympic hopefuls are learning aerial skills, acrobatics, gymnastics and juggling at Circus Juventas, a St. Paul circus school that offers afterschool and summer programs for youth. The students, ages five to 18, also prepare and perform a themed show each summer. This year they performed "Grimm: Happily Ever After," featuring more than 70 of their most talented students. "Circus Juventas is my family and I come here as often as I can," 11-year-old Anwar Hassouni told the Star Tribune. "I'm not sure what I'll do later in life, but right now, there is nothing I love better than this."

Nebraska
This summer, Nebraska educators participated in workshops on aviation, cosmic connections to the universe, robotics and rocketry, thanks to a grant from NASA that aims to expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for fourth through eighth grade students. The teachers will use their newfound knowledge to infuse STEM into before school and afterschool Nebraska BLAST! programs, which are a collaboration between 21st Century Community Learning Centers and NASA. Nebraska is one of nine states to receive the grants, the Columbus Telegram reports. Learn more about STEM in afterschool here.

New York
The Global Kids afterschool program is among the winners of an "Excellence in Summer Learning Award" from the National Summer Learning Association. The annual award recognizes programs for strong content, staffing, partnerships with schools and organizations, parental engagement and the building of 21st century skills. In addition to the in-school and afterschool program, Global Kids operates a summer program that offers 25 students the opportunity to participate in a U.S. in the World program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Other award winners this year are Fiver Children's Foundation, Phillips Brooks House Association, Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, Migrant Education Program and Project Exploration.

Wisconsin
The boardwalk under construction at a swampy area near Lincoln High School is closer to completion thanks to the school district's summer program. Sixteen students, along with volunteers from the community, participated in the "Has Summer Got You Bored? Then Get Out and Build the Boardwalk!" program to help complete the 2,000-foot structure, reports the Herald Times Reporter. Participating students not only helped brighten their community; they earned the required community service hours they need to graduate.

Resources
A Guide to the Afterschool Meal Program
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has just released the Afterschool Meals Guide, an online resource designed to help more afterschool programs understand and complete requirements to receive federal funding to provide healthy meals to children when the school day ends. Intended for afterschool programs, sponsors, state agencies, anti-hunger advocates and anyone interested in making nutritious meals available to children who need them, the guide walks through the basics of the Afterschool Meal Program, offers tips on how to get it started, and shares strategies on how to make it a success. In addition to the online guide, FRAC is hosting a series of conference calls to walk applicants through the process. The Afterschool Matters calls begin on September 14. For more information on the guide, click here, and for more information on the conference calls, view the Calendar section of this issue of the Advocate.

STEM Resources
The Lunar and Planetary Institute's Explore! program is designed to engage children in space and planetary science in libraries and other out-of-classroom environments. Explore! investigations address lunar exploration; the planets Earth, Jupiter and Mars; rockets; health in space; and more. Modules, workshops and webinars are funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA. Explore! includes free resources for facilitators to conduct science programs, including hands-on activities for children ages eight to 13; background information for facilitators; and reading and multimedia resource lists. For more information, click here.

STEM Professional Development Workshops
The National Partnerships for After School Science (NPASS and NPASS2) is building on existing state-based out-of-school time professional development infrastructures to create new, state-based cadres of professional Science Trainers who can provide long-term training and technical assistance to the afterschool field. More than 500 NPASS afterschool agencies send their staff six times a year to NPASS professional development workshops and are delivering extended, research-based, hands-on science and engineering projects to their students every week during the school year. For more information on participating in workshops, click here, or contact Principal Investigator Charlie Hutchison at chutchison@edc.org.

The Perfect Complement
The Afterschool Alliance has released a new MetLife Foundation Issue Brief examining how afterschool programs can align with traditional school day curriculum to reinforce learning for struggling students and help close the academic achievement gap.

The informal structure of an afterschool environment can allow for additional support to students by reinforcing classroom learning in unique and innovative ways that keep kids interested in learning. Low student-to-instructor ratios, more opportunities for learning outside the classroom, and collaboration with the community are among the ways afterschool can engage students. Aligning afterschool with classroom curriculum strengthens learning and can help struggling students catch up with their peers.

"Afterschool is at its best when it complements and coordinates with - but does not replicate - the learning that occurs during the formal school day," the Issue Brief says. "In this relationship with regular school time, afterschool can provide a host of unique opportunities for students to succeed and remain engaged in school-day learning."

The Brief offers examples of afterschool programs across the country that are reinforcing students school day learning.

This Brief is part of a series of a series Issue Briefs examining the vital role played by afterschool programs. It is sponsored with generous support from the MetLife Foundation. For more information, click here. Read the Issue Brief here.

Send Us Your STEM Story!
The Afterschool Alliance is compiling stories of outstanding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professionals who volunteer their time in afterschool STEM programs. The goal is to gather profiles of these individuals for a new STEM website that will provide guidance and encouragement to help others to get involved in afterschool programs in their communities.

The STEM profiles will be similar to those featured in the Afterschool Alliance's Storybook project, which can be found here.

If your program is working with STEM professionals, or you know of such professionals who are involved in afterschool programs in your area, please contact Ramya Sankar at rsankar@afterschoolalliance.org.

Day of the Girl
Join the movement and help bring girls' issues to the forefront of policy and influence positive change! On September 22, communities across the country will be celebrating the Day of the Girl, highlighting, celebrating, discussing and advancing girls' lives and opportunities across the globe.

This campaign is a project of School Girls Unite, an organization of students and young women leaders in the United States and in Mali working to advance the United Nations Millennium Development Goals related to gender equality and universal basic education, as well as child marriage prevention and other human rights issues.

The Day of the Girl is inviting girls everywhere to participate. The campaign includes a design competition for Day of the Girl t-shirts. For more information, click here.

Nick's Day of Play
The Afterschool Alliance is helping Nickelodeon celebrate its Worldwide Day of Play September 24 on the Smithsonian Mall to promote the role played by afterschool programs in getting kids active and supporting their health and well-being. The Day of Play was created to encourage kids to get up and get active.

Participants will be joined by Kid Tribe founder Kellee McQuinn, who will lead visitors to our booth in blood-pumping "Hoopapalooza" moves. In honor of the day, Nickelodeon and its sister channels suspend programming for three hours from 12 Noon to 3PM ET/PT.

Learn more about Day of Play: http://www.nick.com/thebighelp and Kid Tribe: http://kidtribe.com/.

Nominate a Coach Today!
Up2Us has launched its 2011 Coach of the Year contest and is looking for coaches who have inspired kids both on and off the field. Three winning coaches will receive an all-expense paid trip to participate in the Up2Us National Summit in Washington, D.C. and be recognized at the Coach of the Year reception on Capitol Hill.

Nominations are being accepted through September 15. To learn more about the award, and to nominate a coach, click here.

Get Your Fill of News at Afterschool Snack!
New this month on the Afterschool Alliance's blog, watch Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk about his mother's afterschool program, learn about school improvement grants, find out how to participate in "pennies from heaven," and more!

New posts include:

* Supporting Afterschool Through School Improvement Grants
* Video: Secretary Duncan on the Value of Afterschool Programs at the Safe and Drug Free Schools Conference
* Issue Brief: Aligning Afterschool with the Regular School Day
* Shine a Light on Afterschool - Enter the Light Up a Landmark Contest!
* Jcpenney Unveils Another Afterschool Winner

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...
* September 14, 2011
The Food Research and Action Center is hosting a new, free conference call series called Afterschool Matters to increase participation, build awareness and provide technical assistance for the Afterschool Meal Program. The first call will take place on September 14 at 1 p.m. ET. Additional calls will be: October 12 at 1 p.m. on reducing administrative barriers; November 16 at 1 p.m. on building school participation; and December 14 at 1 p.m. on recruiting and supporting large sponsors. To register for the September 14 call, click here.

* October 17 - 18, 2011
Schools Out Washington will host The Bridge from School to Afterschool and Back Conference in Seattle. Participants at the ninth annual Bridge Conference will attend workshops and hear from speakers on topic such as youth voice and engagement; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); sustainability; and social/emotional learning. For more information, click here.

* October 20, 2011
The Afterschool Alliance will sponsor the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool, raising awareness about the benefits that afterschool programs offer to families and communities across the country. Lights On Afterschool is the only national rally for afterschool programs, and in recent years it has included more than 7,500 events throughout the United States and at U.S. military bases worldwide. For more information, to plan an event or share your plans, and to sign up for free materials, click here.

* October 31 - November 4, 2011
The California Afterschool Network will host 2011 STEP UP High School and AMP UP Middle School conferences in San Diego, California. Both conferences convene statewide and national afterschool practitioners, including administrators, district managers/coordinators, site directors and frontline staff. STEP UP will be held October 31 to November 2, and AMP UP will be November 2 to November 4. For more information, click here.

* November 15 - 16, 2011
The National Summer Learning Association will host the Summer Changes Everything 2011 National Summer Learning Conference in San Francisco. Participants will attend workshops and hear from speakers on topics including policy, funding and innovative instructional approaches. A pre-conference session begins November 14. For more information, click here.

* 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 include physical activity, childhood obesity prevention, gardening, family advocacy, best practices and more. For further information, click here.

* 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.