Packaging Your Program
Share the Strengths of Your Afterschool Program!
Seeking High School Activists
Afterschool for All Challenge
Federal Action on Afterschool
Packaging Your Program
Most afterschool programs have plenty of impressive information about the work they do to share with the media, potential funders and others. But what form should that information take? A glossy brochure? A fact-packed report? Something in between?
Different programs answer that question in different ways, depending on who the materials are intended to woo, what kind of resources are appropriate to spend on the materials, and what type of information is available.
One common approach is to put together kits, either in a thin binder, a two-pocket paper portfolio, or using a transparent report cover. (A trip to an office supply store website will help sort out what differentiates those three.) Inside the kits are usually a range of materials, often including:
* A one-page overview of the program, sometimes in bullet form, covering when it started, how many children it serves, what activities it offers, where it meets, major community partners and funders, and a thumbnail description of its approach.
* A list of community partners and board members.
* A summary of evaluation findings.
* A mission statement or values statement.
* Action pictures of children in the program - working on computers, getting help from a tutor or teacher, playing sports, creating art, etc.
* Basic information on the program - how many children it serves, their ages, location of sites, how many teachers, how transportation works.
* A sheet with one-paragraph biographies of the program director, board chair, and other key personnel.
* The business card of the principal contact.
* A recent program newsletter.
A number of programs also make these materials available online, in HTML format, PDF format (Acrobat reader), or in a Microsoft Word file.
The promotional package used by CincyAfterschool, a partnership between the Cincinnati, Ohio public schools, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati and other local agencies, includes a unique set of "success stories." The one- to two-paragraph vignettes describe the inspiring progress made by a number of individual afterschool students, and also include first-person accounts by afterschool staff of students' transformation.
The package also includes charts highlighting key findings from program evaluations, one demonstrating the lower than average regular-day absentee rates of afterschool students, and another demonstrating the superior disciplinary records of afterschool students.
In Los Angeles, the LA's BEST program includes a colorful map charting its various sites throughout the city, as well as a brief history of the program. A one-page fact sheet offers vital statistics on the number of sites, how many children participate, what it costs to run the program, highlights from recent independent evaluations of the program, and more. The kit is available on the web at www.lasbest.org/resourcecenter/index.php.
The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh tailors each kit it sends to the specific recipient. Afterschool Ambassador Alana Kulesa, Youth Programs Manager at the museum, oversees the afterschool program. In addition to brochures on the museum and its youth programs, she includes Pennsylvania-specific findings from the Afterschool Alliance's "America After 3PM" report (state fact sheets are available at www.afterschoolalliance.org/america_3pm.cfm), and a printout of a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of engaged students enjoying program offerings. Also included are two "In Their Own Words" one-pagers, compiling actual quotes about the value of the program - one quoting students, and the other quoting parents.
The common thread running through all of these kits is that they paint a picture of the good work being done in afterschool programs. Even if reporters and potential funders come to a program interested in hard numbers of children participating, dollars spent, etc., it is important for the materials they receive to remind them of the individual stories in afterschool programs - a child getting tutoring help, learning to draw, playing a sport, and more. A good kit provides the facts and engages the imagination and emotions of the reader.
Share the Strengths of Your Afterschool Program!
The Academy for Educational Development's Center for Youth Development and Policy Research's Promising Practices in AfterSchool (PPAS) is seeking examples to highlight from afterschool programs around the country. PPAS defines promising practices as the good things that underlie the activities that go on everyday in afterschool programs and lead to positive outcomes for children and youth.
PPAS is accepting submissions from afterschool programs that conduct Promising Practices in any of seven key areas: community and family involvement; programming; staffing and training; management and administration; financing; research and evaluation; or policy and advocacy.
Afterschool programs that are recognized as PPAS sites benefit from formal recognition on the PPAS database, professional development and capacity building feedback, and opportunities to promote programs at regional conferences or in the media. The deadline for submissions is April 28. For further information, visit www.afterschool.org.
Seeking High School Activists
The NetAid Global Citizen Corps (GCC) is a national network of high school students working to educate and mobilize their peers to help end global poverty. Afterschool programs that work with high school youth who would like to do more to address challenges such as HIV/AIDS, hunger and access to education can invite students to apply to become a GCC Leader.
Each year, NetAid selects a diverse group of passionate and committed high school students to become GCC Leaders. Following an intensive training, either in-person or online, GCC Leaders implement Global Action Days in their schools and communities to raise awareness about global poverty and encourage peers to take action. Throughout the year, GCC Leaders network and receive tools, resources and support through the GCC Online Action Center.
In the summer, a select group of Leaders will attend the GCC summit in New York City, which gives them a chance to meet like-minded students from across the country, interact with experts and develop their skills. The deadline to apply is May 7. For information on the Global Citizen's Corps, or to apply, visit www.netaid.org/global_citizen_corps/.
Afterschool for All Challenge
Join the Afterschool Alliance and advocates from around the country for the 5th Annual Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, DC on May 23 and 24. This year the Alliance is partnering with the National League of Cities to hold joint networking sessions, a Breakfast of Champions, and visits to Capitol Hill offices. Workshops will address afterschool for older youth, math and science, election-related advocacy, and more. Time will be allocated to meet with others from your state and to prepare to meet with Members of Congress. There will be special events for youth who attend.
If you cannot come to Washington, please hold time on May 24 to reach out to elected officials with messages about the importance of afterschool, and watch for more details in future Afterschool Advocates. For more information on the Challenge and to register, visit www.afterschoolalliance.org/challenge_2006.cfm.
Federal Action on Afterschool
Led by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Dale Kildee (D-MI) and Shelley Berkley (D-NV), 44 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education in March, urging the Subcommittee to support full funding ($2.5 billion) for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Fiscal Year 2007.
With more signatures than a similar letter generated last year, the House letter says, in part, "The demand for affordable, quality afterschool experiences far exceeds the availability of these programs& We appreciate the difficult budget situation you face, but we also note that federal funding for afterschool is supported by nine out of ten Americans who believe the nation's children need a safe, supervised learning environment to spend their afterschool hours."
On March 28, 35 Senators, led by Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and John Ensign (R-NV), signed a similar letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).
The Senate letter says, "We are writing to request additional funds be included in the Fiscal Year 2007 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. Students across America are relying on Congress to make badly needed funds available for 21st CCLC Centers so that more children will have the option of high-quality, safe afterschool learning activities critical to their success in school and in life."
"These letters demonstrate powerful support for afterschool programs from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle," said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. "We are grateful to every Senator and Representative who signed on, and to all the afterschool supporters around the country who urged them to do so. At a time when there is great pressure on the federal budget, it is vitally important that lawmakers hear from constituents who want to make quality afterschool programs available to every child and family."
Increasing Education & Health Funding In related news, in mid-March the Senate passed the "Specter/Harkin" amendment by an overwhelming margin of 73 to 27. It provides an additional $7 billion dollars in federal funds to support education and health programs next year.
While the Senate amendment does not specify the programs that would be funded, it increases the pool of money for education and health programs, making it more likely that 21st CCLC and other afterschool initiatives could see a modest increase or at least avoid an across-the-board budget cut in the Senate this year.
House moderates are attempting to pass a similar measure to increase education and health spending. On March 28, Representative Michael Castle (R-DE) convened a rally at the U.S. Capitol to demand more funding for domestic discretionary programs - including Safe and Drug-Free Schools, No Child Left Behind, Community Development Block Grants, and others - in the House Budget Resolution. Castle thanked advocates who have called their Representatives to remind them that education and health programs matter to their communities. "I will not vote for a House Budget Resolution that would result in real cuts to critical federal investments in education," he vowed, "[and I] encourage my colleagues who share these priorities to do the same."
Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) also lent support at the rally, noting that, "What they are doing in the Senate makes sense. As a strong fiscal conservative, I believe in spending your dollars wisely. That means investing in education."
Castle said that House Moderates were effective in stimulating change in last year's budget process, and vowed to "push like heck to get more dollars" this year.
The House left for a Spring recess before any votes were taken on the budget resolution, and will return the week of April 24. House leaders are grappling with pressure from moderates to increase funding for programs, and pressure from some conservatives to make additional cuts. It is uncertain whether a vote, similar to the Specter/Harkin Senate amendment, to add funds to education and health care programs will occur in the House, or if opportunities for additional funding will come at a conference committee between the House and Senate later on.
Republican Study Committee In its Contract with America Renewed, released on March 13, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) encouraged Congress to let "American families keep more of their own money and spend it on their own priorities," and to reduce the federal deficit by some $400 billion over five years. The RSC is a group of 100 House conservatives, led by Representatives Mike Pence (R-IN) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). Thirty-eight House members have signed on as co-sponsors of the Republican Study Committee's budget.
The Contract targets some 40 government programs for elimination, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool initiative. The RSC sent the Contract to every Member of Congress, and Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant responded with a letter that also went to every Member of Congress. The Alliance letter says, in part, "I am writing to express my disappointment in and opposition to the Republican Study Committee's recommendation to eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program& Afterschool programs have proved their worth, helping students learn, keeping them safe during the often perilous afternoon hours, and relieving their working parents of childcare worries& I urge you and your colleagues to join us in our efforts to do all we can to meet the needs of children and families, and to reject this recommendation."
House Republicans and Democrats recently worked together to prevent the RSC from bringing its budget proposal to the floor for a vote. The Afterschool Alliance continues to monitor all congressional action and to rally opposition to all measures that would cut afterschool spending.
21st CCLC Job Opening As Congress grapples with the budget, the U.S. Department of Education is recruiting a new director for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to replace Carol Mitchell, who resigned in January. "Carol's commitment and dedication to afterschool programs across America has helped improve the lives of millions of children and families," Grant said. "She will be sorely missed."
The position will be located in the Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs office at the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Applications must be submitted through EDHires. Information is available at http://jobsearch.ed.monster.com/getjob.asp?JobID=40592366.
Inner city youth in Compton are one step closer to the "big leagues" now that Major League Baseball (MLB) has opened its first-ever Urban Youth Baseball Academy in their community. The ten-acre $10 million complex - including grandstands, a show field, auxiliary fields, club house, weight rooms and training facilities - will offer free afterschool programs year-round. Leaders expect to serve 2,500 youth in the first year, according to "City News Service." The academy, led by former California Angel Darrell Miller, will also host seminars on player development, steroid-use prevention, sportsmanship, and the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. For information, visit www.YouthBaseballAcademy.com.
Girls Inc. and Home Depot recently collaborated on "Project Dollhouse," a national competition designed to encourage nontraditional careers and emphasize teamwork and leadership skills for girls. More than 170 teams of girls age five to 18 learned to build multilevel dollhouses, paint, stain floors, and wallpaper and furnish the homes with the help of Home Depot employees. The girls also wrote stories about the homes they created. The makers of the top 20 dollhouses gathered in Atlanta for a ceremony that included a public auction of the dollhouses. The rest were auctioned on ebay or donated to charities. "We wanted them to understand that they, too, can have a construction company or be a developer or interior decorator," Janet Street, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta told the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution."
The Afterschool Coalition of Indianapolis reports that at-risk youth in the city have gone to the dogs. Indy Parks and Recreation and the Jordan YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, hosted the Paws and Think, Inc. program, an innovative youth program that teaches life skills through dog training. Youth from across the city transfer positive motivation techniques as well as learned communication, anger management, and caretaking skills onto living-assistance canines. With greater self-confidence, character development, and a more defined set of personal values, the youth leave the program with job readiness and the confidence to succeed. For more information, visit www.pawsandthink.org/.
The State Senate passed the Developing Responsible Youth Act in March with just one dissenting vote. SB 382 has support from the Kansas Enrichment Network and Kansas Action for Children, and the Governor has earmarked $1.25 million to fund it. It would provide grants for afterschool activities targeting students in grades six, seven, eight and nine. Funded programs must offer pre-vocational employment skills and options, physical fitness activities, academic tutoring and enhancement, and mentoring.
Through her foundation, Rosie's for All Kids, Rosie O'Donnell is providing support and relief to Hurricane Katrina survivors in the Gulf Coast. Her efforts now include support for afterschool programs in the Renaissance Village mobile home park, near Baton Rouge. O'Donnell told Anderson Cooper of CNN's "360 Degrees" that, at the temporary shelter, there are "approximately 700 children. And there's nowhere for them now to go, to assemble, to play... there's no place for children, and there's no one sort of attending to the needs." Rosie's for All Kids hosted a "Fun Day" in November, co-sponsored by Nickelodeon, and a "mini Mardi Gras" for children in February. For more information, visit www.forallkids.org/.
The "Portland Press Herald" reports that fifth to eighth grade boys can now participate in a new afterschool program offered by Pineland Farms in New Gloucester called "Boys on the Farm." The program offers blacksmithing, archery, wilderness survival and more, supervised by local artists, craftsmen and professionals. To date, the boys have learned to make rope out of bark, snowshoes and match-less fires, and build outdoor shelters. Sarah Hunt, Director of Education for Pineland Farms, said, "I wanted to develop a program for boys to come and be boys." Pineland Farms also offers "Girls on the Farm," which offers agricultural activities and nontraditional recreation. For information, go to www.pinelandfarms.org/education/afterschool.htm.
"It's About Time to Fund Afterschool" was the message more than 200 students, parents, advocates and others brought to lawmakers in Annapolis during a daylong visit to the State House on President's Day. The event was designed to teach participants about civic engagement and the legislative process, and voice concerns about inadequate funding for afterschool programs. Participants heard from legislators, gave television interviews and were paired with college student mentors for the day.
The Chess Nuts of Border Star Elementary are no ordinary afterschool chess program, according to the "Kansas City Star." Defying the image of chess as a serious and somber affair, the young chess champions travel with a high-powered entourage and learn and practice chess by rapping songs. Before tournaments, school spirit runs high and the school holds pep rallies complete with cheerleaders. Site Coordinator Wanda Thompson notes that such enthusiasm is "a rarity," but says that, "the kids' hearts and minds are in sync with (the chess players). A lot have never played chess, but most definitely get pumped up for them."
Children in Gorham Community Learning Center's afterschool program recently learned how to snowshoe and track animal prints in the snow with the help of naturalist guides from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). As the students shuffled, they found traces of moose, red foxes and red squirrels along the trails in White Mountain National Forest. The learning center and the AMC have been offering joint programs since July. "It's a good introduction to nature for the kids, basically getting them out in their backyard," AMC Interpretive Naturalist Nicky Pizzo told the "Union Leader." For information on other AMC youth programs, visit www.outdoors.org/education/.
More than 1,000 children, parents, police officers and educators representing 200 organizations visited Albany on February 28 for the 7th annual Coalition for After-School Funding After-School Advocacy Day. They urged lawmakers to increase funding for the Extended Day/School Violence Prevention Program from $30.2 million to $55.2 million, to provide 29,000 more afterschool slots in the state; and to support a $7.3 million increase in the Executive's budget for the Advantage After-School Program, to provide 5,800 more afterschool slots. The day included an awards program, rally, march and meetings with legislators.
G. Kwame Scruggs, Executive Director of the Alchemy Inc. afterschool program at Perkins Middle School, strives to "extract the gold within" sixth and seventh grade boys. According to the "Akron Beacon Journal," the program serves as a support base for youth, the majority of whom come from single parent homes. Scruggs serves as a mentor for the children and hopes to see each through to college. The program emphasizes storytelling, introspection, and rites of passage concepts and begins with an African drumming session. "I want to teach them to understand life through stories," said Scruggs. "To see the character traits of the heroes& And take those traits and apply them to life." For more information, visit www.alchemyinc.net/.
Students at Valley Elementary's Project ISAAC afterschool program have been immersed in ancient Egyptian study and, to demonstrate their mastery, delved hands-on into mummification recently. The students mummified four chickens, "King Clucks," by immersing them in canning salt for a month. The students then wrapped the "mummies" and placed them in shoebox sarcophagi which they decorated. "We didn't kill it!" seven-year-olds Megan Murphy and Elizabeth Ennis, told the "Dominion Post," emphasizing that the chickens were store-bought. The program stresses innovative teaching techniques to hold student interest and administrators note that Project ISAAC students have better attendance and improved attitudes about school.