Vol. 13 Issue 1 (01/17/2012)
Top Stories
Afterschool Alliance Releases Expanded Learning Principles
Have You Taken Our Survey?
Updated Backgrounder on Afterschool Evaluations
Student-Centered Learning in Afterschool

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

Afterschool Alliance Releases Expanded Learning Principles
A new publication from the Afterschool Alliance offers a set of principles for how afterschool, summer and expanded learning time programs can provide the engaged learning that students need to succeed. Principles of Effective Learning Programs: A Vision Built on the Afterschool Approach looks at eight key strategies that afterschool and summer programs are using to support student success. The principles are:

* School/community partnerships;
* Engaged learning;
* Family engagement;
* Intentional programming;
* Diverse well-prepared staff;
* Participation and access;
* Safety, health and wellness; and
* Ongoing assessment and improvement.

"These are the crucial, effective, well-tested strategies that afterschool and summer programs across the country have been using for years to engage students, and to help them learn so they have a better chance to succeed in school and in life," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "With this publication, we share the valuable lessons we have learned about how best to reach at-risk and other students. Our goal is to enrich the conversation between experienced afterschool and summer program providers and those who are just now looking at how best promote learning by expanding the school day and/or the school year."

The new publication offers specific examples of afterschool programs that are including: the Cincinnati Public School District, which is working with some 60 community partners to offer students rich, diverse, engaging opportunities for hands-on learning; and the ACE Mentor Program, FIRST Youth Program and Project Exploration, which provide highly successful STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning in ways that promote graduation, college education and STEM careers.

"Extended day programs are the newest and therefore least tested type of expanded learning programs," Grant added, noting that many afterschool, before-school and summer programs have been providing engaging learning opportunities to students for years. "Grounding these newer programs in the best practices of proven afterschool and summer programs will give them the best chance to succeed. That's what our students and our schools need. We want to work together to ensure that both extended day and afterschool/summer programs can continue to support each other and help students thrive."

The new publication also offers a definition of expanded learning that embraces afterschool and summer learning. The Afterschool Alliance intends to share it with providers across the country, as well as educators, parents, allies, government leaders at all levels, and others who are considering how to best allocate resources to ensure that students learn.

View the new Principles of Effective Learning Programs here.

Have You Taken Our Survey?
Calling all afterschool providers! If you haven't already taken the Afterschool Alliance's new survey to share the successes earned by your afterschool program, or a program you know well, please do so now! Those who complete the survey by January 18 will be eligible to win a Kindle Fire or a $10 iTunes gift certificate.

The survey will only take 15 minutes to complete. It will be helpful to have statistics on your program demographics (number of children attending, free/reduced priced lunch percentage, funding data, etc.) and any program evaluation statistics easily accessible while taking it.

The Afterschool Alliance is gathering these examples to strengthen support for investments in quality afterschool programs; particularly those that have received 21st Century Community Learning Center funds.

Please share examples of programs that boost student success in school (e.g., behavior, attendance, grades, academic skills, grade advancement) or provide engaging learning opportunities in areas such as STEM, digital learning, arts, health/nutrition, global learning and physical activity. Take the survey here!

Updated Backgrounder on Afterschool Evaluations
Based on years of solid research, advocates have long asserted that afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families. The Afterschool Alliance has just released an update to its Evaluations Backgrounder: A Summary of Formal Evaluations of Afterschool Programs' Impact on Academics, Behavior, Safety and Family Life, now available on the organization's website.

Packed with bite-size summaries of key findings from more than two dozen authoritative studies of afterschool programs, the backgrounder is designed to help advocates sharpen their case for afterschool programs with hard data.

New to this edition of the backgrounder are studies of LA's BEST and Chicago's After School Matters programs, as well as a new evaluation by Public/Private Ventures of Higher Achievement's year-round program.

* The new LA's BEST evaluation finds that sustained participation in elementary level afterschool programs can lead to sustained academic gains in middle school. According to the study, students who participated in LA's BEST for 50 days or more showed benefits to their grade point averages (GPA) in general math, while those taking algebra, science and history saw benefits to their GPA after 80 days of participation. Former LA's BEST students also demonstrated higher standardized test scores in math and algebra in middle school, with the strongest results coming from those who participated for minimum of 140 days in elementary school.
* The new evaluation by Public/Private Ventures Higher Achievement's intensive year-round afterschool program found that the program significantly improved students' standardized test scores. After two years of access to the program, Higher Achievement Program youth showed significantly larger gains in their reading and problem-solving scores than non-attendees.
* Participants in Chicago's After School Matters program participated in risky behaviors such as selling drugs, using drugs and taking part in gang activity at a much lower rate than non-participants with similar demographic traits and backgrounds.

The paper is organized both by research topic and by specific evaluation. The discussion of specific research topics includes bulleted examples citing test data in the area. So, for example, a section on afterschool students' "Improved Test Scores," cites examples of afterschool successes as demonstrated in 10 separate studies. A section titled, "Students at Greatest Risk Show Greatest Gains," draws on six separate studies.

Other topics covered include: "Improved School Attendance and Engagement in Learning," "Frequency and Duration of Afterschool Participation Increases Benefits," "Positive Impact on Children's Self-Concept and Decision Making," "Afterschool Programs Keep Children Safe," "Afterschool Programs Reduce Truancy and Improve Behavior in School," "Afterschool Programs Help Keep Children Healthy," and "Afterschool Programs Help Working Families and Encourage Parental Participation." Each draws on key findings from studies in that area.

A separate section of the backgrounder offers short summaries of each of the studies cited throughout the report, in chart form. Twenty-six studies are highlighted in a chart focused on evaluations of afterschool programs' impact on students' academic achievement, and 19 are included in a chart covering evaluations that examine afterschool's impact on safety, health, student behavior and family life.

Studies covered in the report range from nationwide meta-analyses of afterschool evaluations - that is, studies that combine data from many previous studies to allow deeper analysis - to evaluations of programs offered in multiple cities around the nation, to statewide and city-wide programs, and finally, to individual programs.

"We developed the backgrounder as a tool for advocates," says Jen Rinehart, Afterschool Alliance Vice President for Research and Policy. "The body of research on afterschool is rich and varied but, taken as a whole, it leads to the clear conclusion that afterschool programs work for our kids, families and communities. It's vital that afterschool advocates have that information available to them, so that they can remind policymakers what two decades of research has shown about the extraordinary value of afterschool programs."

See the new evaluations backgrounder here, and make copies to share with lawmakers, funders and potential funders, journalists and others.

Student-Centered Learning in Afterschool
In conjunction with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance has released a new Issue Brief examining the importance of student-centered learning in afterschool. Many students are falling behind during the school day and, as a result, there is a growing need to provide more student-centered, personalized learning opportunities that accommodate different interests and approaches to learning after school.

The new Issue Brief says, "Increasingly, high quality afterschool programs focused on the whole child are helping youth gain access to more resources and providing an unparalleled space for them to have a hand in their own learning in ways that suit their most pressing needs and keenest interests. Innovative afterschool programs with a student-centered approach have the potential to prepare youth as responsible citizens who are in control of their future."

According to the Issue Brief, successful student-centered afterschool learning:
* Promotes a collaborative learning environment;
* Allows students to learn at their own pace, set and achieve individual goals;
* Strengthens partnerships between youth and their surrounding communities, like the school district, local businesses and community-based organizations;
* Offers project-based learning to engage students' critical thinking skills; and
* Gives youth a voice to communicate with the world around them and make a difference.

In addition to examples and profiles of successful models, the Issue Brief offers tools and resources that provide even more way to put students first. Read the new Issue Brief here.

Be an Active Reader
The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog is currently hosting a lively discussion about the value of afterschool programs vs. extending the school day. The debate features commentary from Jennifer Davis of the National Center for Time & Learning, who supports redirecting afterschool funds to extend the school day, and Jodi Grant of the Afterschool Alliance.

As the Afterschool Advocate goes to press, 100 people - many of them afterschool supporters - have commented. You can too! Visit the blog at the link above, scroll down past the Davis and Grant posts, click on the comments, read some of them, and then add a comment of your own. The comments range in this debate from short and personal to long and academic. Some are direct responses to Davis and/or Grant, while others are general comments on the issue. But each of these people took the time to share their views.

When news consumers participate in this way, they help shape coverage and public opinion. This online debate is one example of the blending of mainstream and social media, and the ways readers can weigh in. Some people dismiss this kind of online dialogue as being dominated by those who hold extreme views, but everyone has the chance to have a voice.

Because editors, producers, reporters and others monitor comments, and tend to continue covering stories that generate audience engagement, it's important to get into the habit of being an active reader. Among the many ways to do that:

* Regularly share your views, using the comment function on blogs and on the websites of stories carried by newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations.
* Share stories you think are important or that carry perspectives with which you agree with colleagues, friends or allies.
* "Recommend" or "like" stories or comments you agree with.
* Post to your Facebook page stories you agree with or think are important.
* Tweet stories you think are important.
* Use Digg, Linked In and other social media tools to share stories.
* If you blog or have access to a blog, generate a post to add to the discussion about stories on issues you think matter.

And don't forget the traditional ways to be an engaged news consumer - by writing letters to the editor, taking advantage of viewer or listener feedback opportunities offered by radio and television stations, striking up a conversation with columnists, and going on a talk radio program to share your views!

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.


The Big Read
The National Endowment for the Arts is awarding multiple grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 to groups that are revitalizing the role of literature and encouraging reading for pleasure and enlightenment. Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; a division of state, local or tribal government; or a tax-exempt public library that is participating in The Big Read and developing and producing a well-planned, community-wide read with innovative, diverse programming and widespread community involvement and participation. Activities should last approximately one month and focus on one book or poet from The Big Read Library. February 1 is the deadline to apply. Contact Arts Midwest at TheBigRead@artsmidwest.org with questions, and read more about it here.

The Peyback Foundation
Professional football player Peyton Manning's foundation is awarding multiple grants of up to $15,000 each to nonprofits that serve economically disadvantaged children between the ages of 6 and 18 in Indiana, Tennessee and the New Orleans metropolitan area. Emphasis is placed on programs that have a direct benefit to children through relationships and activities. Programs that are designed to enrich the lives of disadvantaged youth through activities conducted outside the typical school day are particularly favored by the Foundation. The deadline to apply is February 1. Learn more here.

Change the World Challenge
The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge encourages students to solve environmental problems through project-based learning. Groups of students and teachers/mentors are challenged to come up with solutions and innovations in areas such as food waste-to-energy, community-scale battery recycling, phantom-power load reduction, systematic behavior change, erosion control and more. The contest is for student and teacher/mentors groups in three categories: elementary school (grades K to 5); middle school (grades 6 to 8); and high school (grades 9 to 12). Prizes vary and are in the form of scholarships, savings bonds, school grants, adventure trips and a chance to present their idea at the United Nations. The deadline is March 15, 2012. Click here for more information.

In Their Own Words
"Large bodies of research have shown how poor health and nutrition inhibit child development and learning and, conversely, how high-quality early childhood and preschool education programs can enhance them... We know that low-income students experience greater learning loss during the summer when their more privileged peers are enjoying travel and other enriching activities. Since they can't take on poverty itself, education policy makers should try to provide poor students with the social support and experiences that middle-class students enjoy as a matter of course. It can be done& Say Yes to Education in Syracuse, N.Y., supports access to afterschool programs and summer camps and places social workers in schools... Yes, we need to make sure that all children, and particularly disadvantaged children, have access to good schools, as defined by the quality of teachers and principals and of internal policies and practices. But let's not pretend that family background does not matter and can be overlooked. Let's agree that we know a lot about how to address the ways in which poverty undermines student learning. Whether we choose to face up to that reality is ultimately a moral question."
-- Helen F. Ladd and Edward B. Fiske, "Class Matters. Why Won't We Admit It?," New York Times, December 11, 2011

"We tend to overvalue academic learning& We need to recognize it's not just the school year that's important. Our objective [instead] should be to give young people as many experiences, in and out of school, after school and over the summer, as possible."
--Education writer and advocate Sam Chaltain, "Live from San Francisco: Celebrating 25 Years of Aiming High," Education Week's Beyond School Blog, November 18, 2011

Voices from the Afterschool Storybook
"Seven years ago I was a sixth grader starting middle school. I was too young to drive, so with my options limited, my fellow classmates and I turned to one of the after school options we did have: the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program... Some of my favorite memories of the 21st Century Program are of the field trips. I remember going to the Kentucky Repertoire Theatre and seeing 'Dracula.' I have always loved theater, but seeing a play because of the 21st Century Program helped me realize how theatre inspires my imagination and my heart... Because of the program I have had the opportunity to discover my passion in life and learned valuable lessons like learning how to respect each person for the talents they can bring to a project and how to overcome personal limitations. I've also discovered that I love working with children and helping them to succeed. I hope to one day make a difference by working for the theatre company and I know that this is all because of 21st Century funding that brought performing opportunities to our rural county."
-- Emileigh Burns, Marrowbone, KY

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


Last month, Watsonville Assemblyman Bill Monning, District Attorney Bob Lee and Police Chief Manny Solano toured the afterschool program at Cesar Chavez Middle School. The leaders watched youth participate in bike rides, develop computer games, learn about government, play sports, cook and more. District Attorney Lee said that afterschool programs protect the community and called them, "public safety programs," the San Jose Mercury News reports.

After a back injury sidelined contractor Richard Brochu, the passionate angler decided to start an afterschool program so students, including his daughter, could learn how to fish. The result, the Florida Fishing Academy, has taught more than 3,000 at-risk teens and youth more than just how to fish, but also life skills, ethical angling, basic fish biology, and boating safety, the Miami Herald reports. Older students who are interested in careers in seafaring learn about charter and commercial fishing businesses and fisheries laws, and gain skills like rod-building. They also are encouraged to becoming mentors to younger students at the academy.

Over the holidays, 250 afterschool students - from the least-experienced dancers to skilled high-school students - performed ballet moves and scenes from "The Nutcracker Suite" at Tulane University's Dixon Hall. The free afterschool program is available from the New Orleans Ballet Association. The pre-professional program is open by audition to students who have demonstrated talent in the basic classes, the Times-Picayune reports. The program's ballet teachers say young students develop self-confidence, self-esteem and new friendships as a result of the program.

North Carolina
Middle school students in Sanford are becoming the teachers at the Learning Together afterschool program. The middle school students pair with elementary students to improve reading comprehension skills. According to the program's organizers, the middle school students are enjoying being teachers and the younger students are "excited to have a friend who is older," the Sanford Herald reports.

Sixteen-year-old Ronald Holloway got on the wrong bus one afternoon and, as a result, got involved in a community service project for the first time, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Ronald stumbled upon the Philadelphia chapter of BuildOn, which brought high school students to volunteer at the "Boo at the Zoo" event. Now more than a year later, Ronald is a regular at the program's afterschool and weekend volunteer projects, joining activities including preparing meals at a local Ronald McDonald house and handing out water to runners in the Philadelphia Marathon. BuildOn coordinates service projects for inner-city high school students in their communities and also in developing countries.

South Dakota
The South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault and the Compass Center are teaming up to provide education about teen dating violence and healthy relationship education to youth ages 13 to 18 at afterschool programs, YMCA/YWCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs in southeastern South Dakota. The teens will receive information and resources on what to do if they or a friend is experiencing dating or domestic violence or bullying.

A number of new resources can support afterschool program providers.

* Change the Equation is a non-profit organization of corporate CEOs dedicated to mobilizing the business community to enhance its philanthropic strategy and state-level advocacy around STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning in the United States. It has launched a monthly newsletter on what's happening in STEM learning. Change the Equation Now will be published each month and will address STEM learning for pre-K - 12 youth in and out of school, data and more. Sign up today to receive the new newsletter.

* The Harvard Family Research Project and the United Way have developed a blueprint for high school family engagement. The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit includes step-by-step guidance on how to identify students at risk for dropping out, connect with the right partners, and collaborate with parents and others to get kids on track. The free, online resource also includes planning and implementation checklists, advice on data collection methods, planning worksheets, and profiles of eight pilot sites that already have started to implement their projects. Click here to access the toolkit.

* A new guide from the Forum for Youth Investment addresses a common problem in the youth field: how to measure outcomes of skills that help youth develop attributes they need to be ready for college, work and life. These skills include communications, relationships and collaboration, critical thinking and decision making, and initiative and self-direction. From Soft Skills to Hard Data: Measuring Youth Program Outcomes reviews eight youth outcome measurement tools that are appropriate for use in afterschool and other settings. For each tool, the guide provides sample items and crucial information about usability, cost and evidence of reliability and validity. A companion to the Forum's Measuring Youth Program Quality, the guide can help providers select conceptually grounded, psychometrically sound measures appropriate for programs that serve upper-elementary through high school-aged youth. Download it here.

* A new one-stop shop for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resource information - STEMConnector.org - has launched. STEMConnector" is a nationwide collaboration of companies, nonprofit associations and professional societies, STEM-related research and policy organizations and academic institutions concerned about the plight of STEM education in the United States. The site links "all things STEM" by connecting national, state and local STEM entities and their own content through a variety of search tools. As the site evolves, it will add more content, including research reports, information on internships and scholarships.

* A new brief from Child Trends, Children of Latino Immigrants and Out-of-School Time Programs, describes risk factors that contribute to low out-of-school time participation rates for children of immigrants, and discusses what these programs can do to help improve outcomes. The brief provides tips for attracting and retaining children of immigrant families in out-of-school time programs, such as: giving immigrant children a supervised place to go; providing or connecting immigrant children with counseling or mental health services; or offering English instruction, in addition to providing academic assistance. Click here to read the brief.

America's Promise Launches 'Grad Nation' Campaign
America's Promise Alliance has launched Grad Nation Communities, part of the Grad Nation Campaign, a 10-year initiative to mobilize all Americans to take action to end the high school dropout crisis and better prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce.

America's Promise invites communities to become part of a national network of cities and towns working to improve high school graduation rates by focusing on the local schools that are most in need of improvement. Grad Nation Communities adopt and work toward the goal of increasing the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent, with no school graduating less than 80 percent, and helping the United States regain its standing as first in the world in college completion.

Communities of any size, from neighborhoods to cities, are best able to bring together people from all walks of life to create local solutions. To increase and enhance local efforts to end the dropout crisis, America's Promise will offer Grad Nation Communities a variety of support and services to help end the dropout crisis, including:

* Networking opportunities;
* Connections to partners, experts, and other resources;
* Access to research-based tools and knowledge;
* Guidance for driving awareness, building public will, and increasing youth voice;
* Access to communication, messaging, and community engagement tools;
* Guidance on how to sustain and fund community efforts;
* Invitations to professional development opportunities, including the Grad Nation Summit; and
* Grad Nation Communities that are home to two or more of the nation's lowest-performing schools may be eligible for direct technical assistance and funding.

To learn more about applying to become a Grad Nation Community and how getting involved will benefit your community and help move us to become a nation of graduates, click here. Contact Lane Russell, Senior Director of Community Engagement at 202-657-0613 or laner@americaspromise.org with questions on Grad Nation Communities.

Digital Learning Day
Mark your calendars; Digital Learning Day is February 1, 2012! More than 500 people will participate and host celebrations of innovative teaching practices that make learning more personalized and engaging. This day is designed to encourage exploration of the ways digital learning can prepare students to succeed in college, career and life.

Digital learning is a teaching practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen the teacher/student interface and the teaching profession. Practices include: providing real life problems to solve that connect students more deeply to the content; using quality digital content to enhance lessons; individualizing instruction through formative assessment; and more.

Digital Learning Day activities aim to raise awareness and celebrate great teaching; encourage more personalized and relevant learning; and help ensure that every child has access to the best learning experiences.

Use Digital Learning Day as a way to call attention to the need for digital learning in your community! Visit www.digitallearningday.org for a toolkit with links and references to instructional strategy ideas, lesson plans, sample outreach, ways to collaborate, and resources to help afterschool providers think about how technology can strengthen instructional strategies.

Move Learning Outside the Classroom
Do you manage or direct an early childhood education program with students who are tired of staying indoors? If the answer is yes, then Growing Up WILD is for you. The award-winning program aims to build school readiness skills through nature-based learning.

The program has 27 field-tested, hands-on, nature-based activities in a full-color 11"x17" activity guide that provides educators with the knowledge and skills to comfortably teach nature-based education that includes math, science inquiry, literacy, music and movement.

Growing Up WILD's website features new resources to aid educators in the classroom, such as Show Me Wildlife, featuring clickable links for viewing insects, bears, birds and more. Educators can also find links for viewing workshops, activities and an introductory video featuring testimonials from other educators. The curriculum is correlated to the National Association for the Education of Young Children Standards and the Head Start Domains.

For more information about the free Growing Up WILD training and materials, click here.

Fill Up on News at Afterschool Snack!
What do we expect to happen at the federal level with afterschool this year? 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:

* Afterschool and Federal Policy in 2012
* YMCA's New Healthy Living Standards Gain National Attention
* Parents Magazine Asks, Where Have All the Afterschool Programs Gone?
* Afterschool Outcomes in the News
* New Study Shows LA's BEST Keeps Helping Students Succeed
* Mapping STEM Education in Afterschool: A Lively Discussion at our Strategy Session of National Leaders

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...
* January 27, 2012
Learning in Afterschool will convene leading experts in the fields of brain research, the new science of learning, and youth development in downtown Berkeley 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 1, 2012
The 26th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) will be held on February 1. This year's theme is Title IX at 40: In It for the Long Run. Schools, universities, afterschool programs and other community organizations are encouraged to participate by planning events that honor, celebrate and encourage all girls and women in sports. NGWSD is sponsored by Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, National Women's Law Center, and the Women's Sports Foundation. Click here for more information, get materials to plan an event, learn about the history of NGWSD and more.

* 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. For more information, click here.

* May 8 - 9, 2012
The Afterschool Alliance will host the 11th annual Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C. The annual event brings together afterschool leaders, advocates, educators, and local and state officials to discuss the hottest issues in afterschool, meet with Members of Congress and celebrate afterschool accomplishments. Registration information is coming soon! For more information, click here.