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JAN
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Partnerships with libraries: Share your thoughts and win!

By Melissa Ballard

The Afterschool Alliance, along with the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net), an initiative from the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute and the American Library Association, wants to know if and how afterschool providers are working with public libraries.

Our goals are to build bridges between the afterschool and library fields, so that both can share knowledge and resources to better serve our youth. Even if you’ve never worked with a public library before, take our survey—your thoughts and experiences will help inform our future work!

The survey should take 20 minutes or less to complete, and everyone who completes it will be entered to win one of our fabulous prizes!

Take the survey today! The survey will close on Wednesday, February 1, so don’t delay.

We are grateful to WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS for generously offering their afterschool curriculum as a prize! WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS are richly illustrated, word-less books that inspire kids of all ages to become published authors of their own storybooks, each receiving published, hardcover copies of their self-authored, original tales!

Students write collaboratively and independently in an exciting Project-Based Learning experience that ignites self-expression and inventive storytelling, while developing essential 21st Century skills. Upon completion of their books, students upload their stories onto the WRiTE BRAiN BOOK BUiLDER, and publish them!

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
JAN
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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7 tips for connecting with newly elected officials on social media

By Rachel Clark

As elected officials take office in communities across the country, we in the afterschool field have an important opportunity to introduce ourselves to newly elected officials, reconnect with reelected policy makers, and remind our representatives of afterschool’s impact in the communities they serve.

The first things you should do: familiarize yourself with winning candidates’ priorities and stances on the issues, write introductory letters to newly elected officials, and invite policy makers to visit your afterschool program.

But as you wait for your letters to be delivered or to get a visit scheduled, reaching out to your representatives online is an easy and effective way to put afterschool on their radar. Here’s how:

  1. New to social media? Learn the basics. Our social media resources include introductory Facebook and Twitter tipsheets, popular hashtags in the afterschool community, and two webinars on social media strategy.
  2. Find out how to get in touch with your representatives. Find social media handles for your local policy makers in our interactive database. Simply enter your program’s address to see if the local, state and federal officials who represent you are active on social media and how you can reach them.
  3. Make it clear that you’re a constituent. Policy makers’ offices receive thousands of letters, emails, and social media messages each day, so they generally only have time to acknowledge and respond to residents of their own districts. If your city and state aren’t publicly available on the social media profile you’re using for your outreach, it won’t be clear that you’re a constituent, and your message is much more likely to be ignored.
  4. Tell the stories of the people who are impacted by your program. Collect short anecdotes from students, parents, teachers, local business leaders, law enforcement officers, and other community partners explaining in a few words why afterschool works for them. Tell your program’s story through their testimonials by sharing those quotes with elected officials on social media.
  5. Run the numbers. Policy makers want to know how issues affect their constituents. Supplement personal stories from your program with America After 3PM statistics from your state to drive home the widespread demand and support for afterschool programs in your community.
  6. Mention your federal or state funding streams. Does your program get funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the Child Care Development Fund, or other federal or state funding streams? Be sure to note that in your outreach to emphasize the importance of these investments (e.g. “With support from Community Learning Centers, kids in [program name] are performing better in math.”).
  7. Have a specific ask. Your outreach should drive toward a goal—ideally, getting an elected official or a member of their staff to visit your program and see afterschool in action! When you connect with policy makers on social media, try to include a few words inviting them to see afterschool for themselves. Afterschool Ambassador Brent Cummings successfully used this tactic to secure a site visit from a U.S. Senator!  

We know from academic research and surveys of congressional staff that policy makers are listening to constituent voices on social media. In one survey, 80 percent of congressional staff reported that getting their attention takes fewer than 30 posts or comments about an issue! For state and local officials, the threshold to get afterschool on their radar is likely even lower.

With online outreach, a small investment of time can make a big impact and help lay the foundation for a long and rewarding partnership with your representatives.

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learn more about: Advocacy Marketing
JAN
12
2017

POLICY
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Guest blog: New York governor proposes $35M in new afterschool funding

By Rachel Clark

By Chris Neitzey, Policy Director for New York’s statewide afterschool network, the New York State Network for Youth Success. Chris can be reached at chris@networkforyouthsuccess.org.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit.

On Monday, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $35 million expansion that would offer 22,000 additional students access to state-funded afterschool programs. This pilot program would significantly expand afterschool programs in 16 cities that were indentified in 2016 as Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Areas.*

To put this proposal into context, New York State currently invests approximately $62 million directly into afterschool programs—the new pilot program will increase this investment by more than 50 percent.

Still, 22,000 new afterschool spaces will only go a small way toward meeting the needs of the estimated 1.1 million students across the state who still want access to a program. However, this investment is still significant in two ways.

First, if this proposal is included in the final state budget, which must be passed by April 1 according to state law, it will give 22,000 more New York students in high-poverty areas an opportunity to participate in an afterschool program as early as next school year.

Second, this would be the first large-scale state investment in afterschool since the 2008 recession, when funding was cut from $93 million in 2007-2008 to $57.4 million in 2014-2015. We’ve had some recent success over the past two years with getting smaller funding increases from the Legislature ($5 million in 2016), but Governor Cuomo’s proposal shows a clear recognition of the important role that afterschool programs play in helping combat poverty in low-income communities and in closing the achievement gap.

After years of advocacy by the Network and field on the importance of afterschool programs in keeping kids safe, helping working families, and supporting academic achievement, among other benefits, this is a welcome proposal and one that is much needed in New York. This was also proposed as a pilot program, so there is interest in expanding it if deemed successful. 

Over the next week, advocates in New York and across the country will be paying close attention to the release of the Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal. In it we should learn more about what the program will look like and the specific language laying out how it will be implemented.

In the meantime, the Network for Youth Success and our partners across the state will be gearing up to make sure this proposal becomes a reality on April 1, 2017.

*Those cities are Albany, the Bronx, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Hempstead, Jamestown, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy, Utica, and Watertown.

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learn more about: Guest Blog State Policy
JAN
11
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 11, 2017

By Luci Manning

Congressional Delays Leave Programs Hanging (News & Observer, North Carolina)

Writing in the News & Observer, Afterschool Ambassador Betsey McFarland explains the uncertainty that comes with congressional budget delays: “The delay in adopting a full-year federal budget means that states won’t know how much money they’ll have for 21st century grants to pass down to afterschool programs this year… At a time when there aren’t nearly enough afterschool programs to meet the need, our federal budget process should provide certainty and support – not present additional challenges.”

Governor Eyes New Child Care Credit (Daily Gazette, New York)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced two new proposals meant to ease the burden on working parents – a middle-class child care tax credit and a new pilot program to create afterschool slots in high-need areas, according to the Daily Gazette. The tax credit will help more than 200,000 families afford professional, quality day care, and the $35 million pilot program will aim to create 22,000 afterschool slots in places like Albany and Troy. “This newly enhanced credit will make it easier for more New Yorkers to be able to secure day care and able to enter or stay in the workforce with peace of mind,” Cuomo said.

Future Meets Steam Punk (La Porte County Herald-Argus, Indiana)

The FIRST Robotics Competition announced its theme for 2017 this weekend: connecting robotics to the steam engines that powered the Industrial Revolution. In this year’s game, teams will spend six weeks building robots that can gather fuel and gears for models of steam-powered airships for a timed competition. RoboBlitz team member Rishi Verma, a Michigan City high school senior, said the afterschool program has taught him about both engineering and how to work as a group. “It’s more than just building a robot. It builds character,” he told the La Porte County Herald-Argus.

Their Safe Place to Grow (Houston Chronicle, Texas)

Workshop Houston, an afterschool program that started as a bike repair shop, has been giving youths from troubled backgrounds a place to learn and try new things for more than a decade. Workshop Houston has four different activities for students to participate in—fashion design, music, dance and tutoring—and provides a safe haven for those who may have nowhere else to go after school. “We’re dealing with children in gangs, coming from toxic homes,” Bryant Christopher, who oversees the tutoring program, told the Houston Chronicle. “If this program didn’t exist, who knows where they would be?” 

JAN
11
2017

FUNDING
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Funding opportunity: SCE Digital Learning Challenge

By Elizabeth Tish

This month, the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) is seeking afterschool program partners to join its Digital Learning Challenge. Selected programs will receive awards of up to $100,000 to support their work developing teens’ 21st century skills using digital media. Awardees will participate in a two-year learning community that will “explore how digital media can promote the development of skills to prepare the next generation for success.”

What is the Digital Learning Challenge?

Over the next two years, the Digital Learning Challenge will bring together the selected afterschool programs, an evaluation team, human resource professionals, and digital product developers and distributors to “explore what it means to be a prepared and skilled 21st century citizen.” The learning community “will unpack the practices and programs of top afterschool organizations that support teens as they build, produce, and remix media, and how these activities connect to opportunities and obstacles faced beyond the program.”

The goal of the initiative is to engage youth in more meaningful learning experiences. Through this work with afterschool programs, SCE hopes to analyze and articulate best practices to share with educators, informal learning practitioners, and others with a stake in using digital tools.

To participate, afterschool programs will need to make a two-year commitment, including three in-person convenings and three online meetings between June 2017 and September 2018. SCE will cover all travel and convening expenses related to participation.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Funding Opportunity
JAN
10
2017

FUNDING
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New grant program: Up to $100,000 for middle school OST programs!

By Dan Gilbert

The New York Life Foundation has created a new $1.95M fund to support middle school afterschool, summer or expanded learning programs serving disadvantaged youth over the next three years. This year, the new Aim High grant program will provide $750,000 to support 18 awards nationwide—take a look to see which opportunity is a good fit for you, and apply!

Grant categories:

  • $100,000 over two years – 4 awards to be made to organizations with annual budgets of $500,000 or greater
  • $50,000 over two years - 4 awards to be made to organizations with annual budgets of between $250,000 and $500,000
  • $15,000 one-year grant – 10 awards will be made to programs that demonstrate promising family engagement strategies run by organizations with annual budgets of more than $150,000

Read the full application and eligibility requirements, and join our webinar on January 25 at 2 PM ET to learn more about this opportunity.  Applications due by February 17, 2017.

Grant funds may be used for technical assistance, enhancing direct service activities, and/or program expansion. Applicants for the two-year grants will need to describe how programs support youth in the transition to the ninth grade, specifically around indicators of success such as on-time promotion; school attendance rates; improved behavior, grades and test scores; and/or the development of social and emotional skills.

The New York Life Foundation invests in middle school OST programs to help economically disadvantaged eighth-graders get to ninth grade on time. Research has shown that for disadvantaged students, more learning time in the form of high-quality afterschool, expanded-day, and summer programs leads to greater achievement, better school attendance, and more engaged students.

The Foundation has invested more than $240 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations since its founding in 1979, including supporting organizations that provide nearly 500,000 middle school youth with afterschool and summer programming. Foundation grants have supported an additional 6 million hours of OST programming. The new grant opportunities provide a way for the Foundation to support smaller programs in communities across the nation.

The Afterschool Alliance is administering the grant program on behalf of the Foundation. A panel of external reviewers will assess applicants. Awardees will be notified in May 2017.

Questions? Email Dan Gilbert at dgilbert@afterschoolalliance.org.

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learn more about: Youth Development
JAN
5
2017

RESEARCH
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When talking about social and emotional learning, what language works best?

By Dan Gilbert

We all know that high quality afterschool and summer learning programs provide kids with the skills that they need to succeed in school and life. While the concept sounds simple, finding the best way to describe these skills and their development is anything but. Some people use phrases such as "social and emotional learning (SEL)" or "character development." Others refer to "21st century," "noncognitive" or "non-academic skills." With such a wide array of terms available, it can be hard to know how to best describe the set of skills youth develop in programs.

New research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation provides some helpful insights. For the study, EDGE Research performed desktop research, interviewed more than 45 leaders in the field, held focus groups with parents, and surveyed more than 1,600 professionals in the field. Their findings provide a valuable lens on how educators, afterschool and summer program leaders, policy makers, and parents think about these skills and what terms and messaging frames are most useful in communicating their value.

Key findings

Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” term for describing these skills.

Two terms—"social and emotional learning" and "social-emotional and academic learning"—are suggested as the likely best options because they were relatively familiar and clear to the audiences with which they were tested, and were generally viewed in a positive light.

The most compelling messaging strategy is to frame the skills in terms of how they benefit children by naming specific outcomes. For example, you could describe how developing social and emotional skills helps children succeed in school and in life by providing them with the ability to manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and navigate social environments, which allows them to fulfill their potential.

Interested in learning more about the study and the other terms and messaging frames that were tested? Read the full analysis and download the webinar recording on the Wallace Foundation website.

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learn more about: Marketing Youth Development
JAN
4
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 4, 2017

By Luci Manning

Our Club Boys Get a Trim and a Treat (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas)

Sixteen boys in the Our Club afterschool program went back to school this week with spiffy new haircuts thanks to local barbers. The afterschool program works with homeless and low-income students through Our House, a nonprofit that helps homeless people and the near homeless find jobs. The barbers came from a number of local barbershops and barber colleges and provided the haircuts for free. Fly Societe Barbershop’s Michaele Hutchings has mentored boys at Our House before, and saw this gesture as a natural extension of that work. “I’ve been wanting to do this for years now, to show these kids somebody out there still cares,” he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Mom Channels Grief to Help Others (Chicago Tribune, Illinois)

Patricia Frontain lost her 14-year-old son Patrick to gang violence two years ago. In his memory, she is trying to help other young people avoid his fate through Patrick Lives On… To End Gun Violence, a nonprofit that supports afterschool programs, summer camps and other activities to steer young people away from gangs. She hopes that providing scholarships, classes and fun activities will give youth an outlet they might not otherwise be able to afford. “We all see the importance that afterschool programming can be for kids… whether it be something athletically or academically,” Rosemont Park District program director Omar Camarillo told the Chicago Tribune. “We want kids to be involved.”

Kids Create Treasures from Trash at Holiday Camp (Wyoming County Press Examiner, Pennsylvania)

Ten children ages five through 12 kept busy over the holiday break by making toys, games and sculptures out of recycled items like toilet paper tubes and bits of scrap wood. Steve and Amy Colley, artists in residence at the Dietrich Theater, sponsor the holiday camp each year to encourage kids to be productive during their holiday break and make something valuable out of items that would normally be thrown away. “The class teaches kids problem-solving,” Amy Colley told the Wyoming County Press Examiner. “It teaches them how to put things together and balance.” The Colleys also offer afterschool programs and summer camps for youths that take on similar projects.

Teens Find Path to Medical Careers (Chino Hills Champion, California)

A new afterschool program at four Chino Valley district junior high schools is introducing students to possible futures as doctors, nurses, home health aides and more. Junior Upcoming Medical Professionals (JUMP) serves more than 400 area students, exposing them to the wide spectrum of health care careers while also building leadership skills and improving professional demeanor. JUMP is student-run, with some advisement from teachers, and it aims to build interest in the rapidly growing field of health care among Inland Empire youths. “Medical professionals are trying to get kids interested in any aspect of the medical field,” Program manager Michael Sacoto told the Chino Hills Champion. “The data say reach them at a younger age and they will want to ask questions.” 

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment Youth Development