Vol. 12 Issue 9 (10/06/2011)
Top Stories
Administration Puts Afterschool Funding at Risk in Offering States Waivers
Preparing for Lights On Afterschool
President's American Jobs Act Includes Support for Afterschool

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

Administration Puts Afterschool Funding at Risk in Offering States Waivers
In a move that stunned afterschool supporters, the Obama Administration put afterschool funding at risk on September 23rd when the Department of Education released a waiver package that allows states to bypass some of the legislative requirements of No Child Left Behind.

Calling No Child Left Behind "broken," Education Secretary Arne Duncan listed ten requirements that state education agencies can waive, including the 2014 deadline by which all students must be proficient in math and language arts. The Administration also offered states the chance to set their own student achievement goals and interventions for low-performing schools. States that apply for waivers would be exempt from ten of the law's requirements. In addition, states can apply for an optional eleventh waiver that would allow them to use 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funds to add time to the regular school day, rather than to support afterschool programs.

The waiver package is temporary, and will be replaced by a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the name now used for No Child Left Behind), when Congress and the President agree on a new law. Reauthorization has been stalled for several years.

Three provisions of the Obama Administration's new waiver package directly affect afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs:

1) Optional Flexibility for 21st CCLC: State Education Agencies (SEAs) have the option to request this flexibility, in addition to other elements of the waiver package. It allows 21st CCLC funds to be used to add time to the school day with minimal guidance on how such time would be used. The Department makes it clear that community partnerships are an optional element of expanded learning time; most in the afterschool community consider these partnerships critical to the success of any expanded learning initiative. In addition, the guidance opens the possibility of using 21st CCLC funds to support teacher professional development and/or to add time to existing regular school day classes. Given the high cost of extended learning time programs compared to afterschool, it is estimated that for each school that uses 21st CCLC to add an hour to its day, six afterschool programs would lose their funding. The afterschool community is urging states to think carefully before checking this optional box, which would allow for a temporary change in the use of 21st CCLC funds - and urging states that do check the box to make sure that expanded learning time is defined to include the best of afterschool practices: community-based partnerships; engaged hands-on learning that enhances and supplements, but does not replicate, the school day; and opportunities to involve parents.

2) Supplemental Education Services (SES): States that are granted waivers would no longer require local education agencies to set aside 20 percent of Title I funds for SES where schools are failing to meet yearly progress goals. Instead, those Title I funds could be used for other approved purposes, including comprehensive, quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.

3) Transferability: Under the package, states that are awarded waivers will be allowed to transfer their state allotment of 21st CCLC funds designated for state activities to other, non-21st CCLC purposes. This would not directly affect the 21st CCLC funds that are granted to local community-based organizations and local education agencies for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. However, it could affect the training and technical assistance that SEAs offer to 21st CCLC grantees.

Each of the waiver provisions, with the exception of the optional 21st CCLC provision, results from public letters submitted by SEAs requesting relief from No Child Left Behind requirements. The 21st CCLC waiver, however, was added at the Administration's discretion.

"Given that the waivers were intended to provide relief from legislative burdens, and not a single public letter from the states complained of burdens related to 21st CCLC, it was surprising for the Department of Education to include the optional waiver," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "We consider this a gratuitous and hostile attempt to encourage states to use much needed afterschool funding to lengthen the school day. If states take the Department up on that offer, afterschool programs across the nation will have to close their doors because extended day programs are much more expensive to run than afterschool programs. They also often do not involve community-based partners, which help provide the hands-on learning opportunities that make quality afterschool programs so successful."

In a letter to the Department of Education, the Afterschool Alliance sought clarification of the definition of expanded learning time. The Alliance also urged that any changes to the 21st CCLC initiative include partnerships between schools and community- and faith-based organizations; that 21st CCLC funds be used to enhance and complement rather than replicate learning that takes place during the school day; and that local communities be allowed to decide how best to use 21st CCLC funding.

"The best thing we can do right now is to hold highly visible Lights On Afterschool events," Grant added. "We need to send a strong message that parents, students, educators, community leaders and others want the afterschool programs they rely on to thrive and grow. These programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and provide essential help to working families."

Appropriations
In other news from Washington, D.C., the budget process continued with leaders in the House of Representatives introducing a funding bill for Fiscal Year 2012 that maintains the current level of 21st CCLC funding, as well as current funding for Child Care and Development Block Grants, and several other funding streams that support afterschool. The House bill, however, would make deep cuts to the Corporation for National and Community Service and its AmeriCorps program.

The Senate also level-funded 21st CCLC in its spending bill, and included report language that allows 21st CCLC funds to be used for expanded learning time that complements, but does not replicate, the school day and emphasizes school-community partnerships.

The battle over a new budget is expected to be protracted. The new Fiscal Year began on October 1, with no new budget in place. Congress is likely to pass continuing resolutions, which continue last year's spending levels, until an agreement is reached.

To stay up-to-date on the latest federal policy news, click here, and to send a message to Congress, click here.

Preparing for Lights On Afterschool
On October 20th, more than one million people are expected to participate in more than 7,500 events that take place in cities and towns across the country and on United States military bases worldwide as part of the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool. Communities everywhere are hard at work planning events that will showcase the skills youth learn and the talents they develop at their afterschool programs, and to send the message that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.

"Every day all across the nation, afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "Now more than ever, with the economy and families struggling, we must sustain the afterschool programs we have and support new ones. As we prepare for the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool, we must recommit to giving all students the fun, engaging hands-on learning opportunities that quality afterschool programs offer. Lights On Afterschool presents a unique opportunity for programs to show how afterschool is supporting students and helping families weather the economic storm. The events taking place on and around October 20 will send a powerful message that the nation recognizes that afterschool is a vital resource we must protect."

A Push for Federal Funding
The children, parents, grandparents, educators, community and business leaders, policy makers, celebrities and others expected to participate in Lights On Afterschool will be urging Congress not to divert or deny federal funding for afterschool. For years, the federal investment in afterschool has lagged far behind the need. In 2007, the No Child Left Behind Act authorized $2.5 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the chief federal funding stream for before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs, yet funding stands at less than half that today.

The recently introduced 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.

Measuring Progress - State by State
In conjunction with jcpenney, the Afterschool Alliance 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.

A significant body of research demonstrates that students who attend 21st CCLC afterschool programs regularly are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores and overall academic behavior. More than 15 million school-age children - more than one in four kids in the United States - are unsupervised after the school day ends. The parents of 18 million children say they would enroll their kids in afterschool programs - if programs were available.

For the fifth year in a row, the Empire State Building will be bathed in yellow light in support of the nationwide rally. This year, the Afterschool Alliance and jcpenney held a contest to encourage officials in other cities, towns and villages across the country to "Light Up a Landmark" as part of their Lights On Afterschool events. Winners will be announced next week.

In an update to the announcement in the last issue of the Advocate, the Capital Criterium national cycling event in Washington, D.C., has been canceled, and will no longer serve as the launch event for Lights On Afterschool.

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

President's American Jobs Act Includes Support for Afterschool
On September 8, President Obama proposed a new jobs plan to a joint session of Congress. His proposal, the American Jobs Act, would invest $447 billion in infrastructure, education, assistance for the unemployed, and other items designed to preserve and create jobs. A fact sheet details the plan, which includes provisions to prevent teacher layoffs, modernize schools, promote science and math learning, and more.

According to the Administration, the American Jobs Act would invest $30 billion to support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire early childhood, elementary and secondary educators, including teachers, guidance counselors, afterschool educators and personnel, tutors, literacy and math coaches and more. "These efforts will help ensure that schools are able to keep teachers in the classroom, preserve or extend the regular school day and school year, and also support important after-school activities," according to White House fact sheets.

Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant lauded the proposal for focusing on afterschool jobs and activities. "Putting workers back on the job to enhance and improve education in this country is a worthy investment - and doing it right means doing more than funding construction to refurbish and repair school buildings," she said in a post on the Afterschool Alliance's Afterschool Snack blog. "By supporting before- and afterschool programs as well as summer learning programs and the people who work at them, we can help bridge the gap in math and science between American students and those in other countries, reduce the dropout rate, support the next generation, and help families that are struggling today."

Additionally, the President's proposal would support summer and year-round jobs for youth by providing states with the means to offer summer job programs for low-income youth in 2012, and year-round employment for economically disadvantaged young adults. Many afterschool programs for older youth have been able to train and employ young people to work with elementary-age students - serving as role models while providing academic help as well.

To learn more about other ways to support federal afterschool funding, click here. To read Grant's full blog post on the American Jobs Act and afterschool, click here.

Countdown to October 20 - Lights On Afterschool!
There's still time to plan your Lights On Afterschool event! The Afterschool Alliance has a step-by-step planning guide to help as you begin organizing your youth march to City Hall or the State Capitol, fitness carnival, open house or other creative activity.

The Afterschool Alliance's website is full of event ideas - from getting city leaders to issue proclamations in support of afterschool to signing petitions - it's all online. And don't forget to register your event!

In you haven't already, now is a good time to invite a policy maker or other community leader to participate in your event. A sample invite letter is below:

Dear [X]:

On October 20, 2011, our afterschool program will be participating in the 12th annual Lights On Afterschool national celebration of afterschool programs. We will be one of more than 7,500 sites across the nation sending the message that afterschool is key to children's success, and that we must keep the lights on and doors open after school. Parents, media, employers, neighbors, school officials and others have been invited to help us rally support for safe, stimulating afterschool programs.

We would like you to be part of our local celebration scheduled:
[Date and time]
[Place]
[Address]

Our program is going to include a half hour ceremony and we would be honored to have you as our keynote presenter. Your role would include:

[A 10-minute statement of the benefits of afterschool and presentation of a Lights On Afterschool proclamation to the program director]

The benefits of quality afterschool programs are clear. They support working families by ensuring that children are safe and productive when the school day ends. Quality afterschool programs make our communities stronger by involving students, parents, business leaders and volunteers. Quality afterschool programs give children the opportunity to discover hidden talents as they grow academically and socially.

I look forward to having you join us for Lights On Afterschool! I will call you next week to confirm your availability. We hope that you will help us keep the lights on after school, and give our children a brighter future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name and Title]

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

Promoting Healthy Habits
The National Institutes of Health is awarding multiple grants up to $275,000 for research to identify and promote sustainable healthy behaviors in children and adolescents. Examples of positive health behaviors include developing healthy sleep patterns, adaptive decision-making in risk situations, practicing proper dental hygiene, or participating in healthy relationships. Applications from multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged. The deadline is October 16. For more information, click here.

Grants for Children's Health Organizations
The Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation is awarding grants from $1,000 to $10,000 to nonprofits and universities that support child health and wellness. Priority is given to organizations located near Build-A-Bear Workshop stores. The deadline is October 28. For more information, click here.

Voices from the Afterschool Storybook
"I feel that it is very important for every student to have a safe place to go after school. My place is The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner. I go there every day after school for many different reasons. I like the activities they offer, I like that I have a place to hang out with my friends, and I especially like the Community Learning Center (CLC) program. Before I came to the CLC, I had a really bad math phobia which made me stressed out about school. At school, I felt rushed and pressured to finish my math work, but my CLC tutor, Mrs. Graves-Leclair, always made time to help me. She let me know that she cared about me and not just my grades. The CLC has also helped me improve my grades and make sure that my homework was done correctly and on time."
-- Amy Princiotta, Gardiner, Maine

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

California
The California state Senate approved a bill (SB 429) intended to increase enrollment in summer programs by offering programs greater flexibility with existing afterschool funds. Among its provisions, the bill would allow programs to operate longer hours, expand programs district-wide to enroll students at schools that do not offer summer programs, and operate at off-site locations. "After school and summer learning programs play a vital role in California's public education system," said bill sponsor Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). "These programs not only assure that children do not fall behind educationally during summer months, they also help working families assure that their children are in a safe environment in the hours after school and in the summer while parents are at work." Governor Brown has until October 9 to act.

Louisiana
The junior high school students at St. Tammany Parish's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program spent their summer preparing to give back to the community for the National Day of Service - the 10th anniversary of September 11. The Junior Corps students spent months researching and planning their service learning projects, which include a remembrance garden with two large evergreens in the center to symbolize the Twin Towers, a sculpture under Pearl River school's flagpole, and food drives for the local food bank and families in need. The program had trouble getting junior high students to attend regularly before switching to a service learning model, director Jamie Huard told the Times-Picayune. "Kids like to give back, and they really do have a sense of commitment when it comes to helping someone... They gave up their summer, woke up early and carried out service projects all day, often in the heat!"

Massachusetts
School on Wheels Massachusetts, an afterschool program for students in temporary housing in Brockton and the surrounding area, is looking for more tutors and mentors to meet growing demand, the Boston Globe reports. "Our whole mission is breaking the cycle of homelessness through education, which is done by stability with the same volunteers, when they're living in a sense of turmoil and chaos," said Cheryl Opper, founder and executive director. Homeless students tend to move or change schools often, making it hard for them to adjust academically and keep up with their peers. In addition to tutoring, School on Wheels sometimes provides backpacks and school supplies to the nearly 200 students it serves.

Mississippi
A 21st Century Community Learning Center grant has helped turn Tupelo Middle School science classrooms into crime scenes. Students are learning the scientific method through a role-playing exercise, as they lift fingerprints, analyze tire tracks and hair samples, measure maggots and determine blood types to obtain clues to solve a murder mystery. At the conclusion of the two-week lesson, students will present their evidence at a mock trial, write a paper and fill out reports for the district attorney and police. "Inquiry-based science and the scientific method is the hardest science to teach because there are not enough hands-on examples," eighth-grade science teacher Summer Allen told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Nevada
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres surprised a Las Vegas elementary school teacher with a $100,000 check to help start an afterschool program - the largest donation in the school's history and the largest ever given by the show, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Principal Sherrie Gahn has spent nearly a decade providing food, clothing, school supplies, medical care and more for Whitney Elementary School students and their families, the majority of whom are poor and sometimes homeless. The donation is also intended to help Gahn continue providing services for students. Watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show profile of the school here.

New York
The New York Transit Museum in New York City this fall is expanding its popular "Subway Sleuths" afterschool program for nine- and 10-year-olds who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The program's goal is to promote social skills while giving students an in-depth look at the New York City train system. People with autism are drawn to predictable patterns and subjects with a lot of detail, like the train schedules. "Kids with autism treat moving trains, especially ones that have limited motion like just going along the tracks, as a natural reward," Simon Baron Cohen, an autism researcher at Cambridge University, told the New York Times. "It catches their attention. Once you've got the child's attention, you can do many types of teaching."

Showing What You Know After School
Afterschool providers have long known that learning happens anytime, anyplace, but assessing and sharing knowledge attained outside the classroom can be challenging. Traditional measures of achievement, like grades and diplomas, do not convey the full range of knowledge and skills that students master. To address this issue, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC and Mozilla have announced a $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competition for leading organizations, learning and assessment specialists, designers and technologists to create and test badges and badge systems. The competition will explore ways digital badges can be used to help people learn; demonstrate their skills and knowledge; unlock educational, job and civic opportunities; and open new pipelines to talent.

At an event last month to announce the competition (Digital Media and Learning Competition 4 - Badges for Lifelong Learning), United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discussed the potential of badge systems. Representatives from groups as diverse as The Manufacturing Institute and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting explained how digital badges can be used.

"Badges can help engage students in learning and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and to demonstrate, as well as document and display their skills," Secretary Duncan said at the event. "Badges can help speed the shift from credentials that simply measure seat time to ones that more accurately measure competency... They can also help account for formal and informal learning in a variety of different settings. Today's technology-enabled, information-rich, deeply interconnected world means learning not only can, but must happen anywhere, anytime."

"We need to recognize these experiences whether the environments are physical or online and whether the learning takes place in schools and colleges or adult education centers or afterschool, in workplace, military or community settings," he continued. "In short, we must begin to see our schools, colleges and classrooms as central points, very critical ones, but central points of a larger network of learning. As we recognize multiple ways for students to learn we need multiple ways to assess and document their performance."

The competition is part of MacArthur's digital media and learning initiative that is designed to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. Competition winners will receive awards to help them fully develop badges and badging systems. The deadline for entering is November 14 and more information is available here.

To support the competition and help advance and encourage digital badge systems, Mozilla is creating an Open Badge Infrastructure - a decentralized online platform that will house digital badges. This will encourage the creation of "digital backpacks" of badges that people will carry to showcase the skills, knowledge and competencies they have gained.

"Until now, it's been too difficult to get recognition for the skills and achievements people are getting online or out of school," said Mozilla's Executive Director, Mark Surman. "Our Open Badges project is working to solve that problem, giving leaders in informal education a free and open way to recognize new learning and 21st century skills leading to real world results like jobs or formal credit. Mozilla believes that's the key to making education work like the web."

Badges are not a new concept. "Many of us grew up with the badging concept with organizations like the Boys and Girl Scouts," NASA's Bolden said at the event. "In scouts you pick a topic and perform a bunch of tasks and you increase in the skill level until you reach a level of mastery where you're recognized with a badge. The military, even NASA uses badges."

"Badges are simple, they're easy and if they're done well they can produce a much more constant picture of what someone knows and what someone can do. They actually have the potential to connect people to opportunity in new ways," said Julia Stasch, Vice President of U.S. Programs at the MacArthur Foundation.

At the announcement, Mozilla, Remix Learning and TopCoder demonstrated badge systems that validate skills and competencies gained on-the-job, online, in the classroom and in other settings. iRemix, Remix Learning's youth development platform, has developed badges that youth in afterschool programs can earn for digital literacies and 21st century skills they develop in their afterschool programs. These badges can be used in school and beyond.

To learn more about Digital Badges for Lifelong Learning, click here.

Strengthening City-Wide Afterschool
The National League of Cities, with the Harvard Family Research Project and the Wallace Foundation, has released a strategy guide to collecting and using data to strengthen city-wide afterschool systems. The report outlines strategies to build the capacity of communities to collect and use data, including: collecting attendance information; assessing family, youth and community needs; identifying service gaps; implementing quality assessment tools and evaluations; and more.

"The success of citywide systems in broadening access to high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs for underserved children and youth often depends on the effective use of data," the guide says. "Reliable data enable city leaders to measure the scope and impact of local OST programs across their communities and to promote continuous improvement within these programs."

The report also offers examples of cities that utilize these strategies and have used data to improve afterschool programs and advocate for sustained public investment in them.

Read the strategy guide 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 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.

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:

* Congressional Briefing on STEM in Afterschool a Big Success
* New Report Looks at the Impact and Outcomes of STEM Learning in Afterschool
* Race to the Top Winner Delaware Utilizing Funds to Support Afterschool and Summer Learning
* Guest Blogger Andrew Black: Indiana Organizations Partner to Launch NASA Ignite! STEM Education Program in Summer and Afterschool Programs

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...
* October 12, 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 second call will take place on October 12 at 1:00 pm EDT and will address ways to reduce administrative barriers. Additional calls will be: November 16 at 1:00 pm on building school participation; and December 14 at 1:00 pm on recruiting and supporting large sponsors. To register for the October 12 call, click here.

* October 17 - 18, 2011
School's 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 topics 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 and the San Diego County Office of Education will host 2011 STEP UP High School and AMP UP Middle School conferences in San Diego, California. The conferences will feature keynote speakers Stedman Graham, M.Ed. of S. Graham & Associates, and Nicole Yohalem, M.Ed. of the Forum for Youth Investment. More than 100 workshops will be offered, addressing topics such as youth development, STEM, physical activity, prevention, program sustainability, academic rigor and enrichment. 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 about STEP UP, click here. For more information about AMP UP, 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.