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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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Snacks by Ursula Helminski
OCT
13
2014

RESEARCH
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Schwarzenegger to Help Unveil America After 3PM

By Ursula Helminski

Being afterschool data geeks, we're terribly excited about the upcoming release of new America After 3PM research. And now we’ve got the Terminator on our team.  This week, Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will help share the 2014 data with media and shine a light on the need for more investments in quality afterschool programs, just as programs across the nation get ready to showcase their offerings at Lights On Afterschool rallies on Oct. 23.

Gov. Schwarzenegger is a long-time champion of afterschool programs—he founded the After-School All-Stars, and spearheaded the successful passage of a ballot initiative in California to fund afterschool programs across the state.  Last October, he visited the halls of Congress to urge leaders to preserve 21st Century Community Learning Center grant dollars for afterschool programs.

SEP
24
2014

LIGHTS ON
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Cable Co gives kids hands-on science for Lights On Afterschool

By Ursula Helminski

Bright House Networks is celebrating the 15th annual rally for afterschool programs by giving hundreds of afterschool youth an afternoon of fun, hands-on STEM learning at their local science centers. Grants of $1,500-$3,000 have been awarded to afterschool programs in seven communities across the nation to give underserved youth the opportunity to get excited and engaged in STEM learning.  Programs are targeting the funds to serve kids who might not normally be able to visit the science centers. The STEM experiences will take place in October, as part of  Lights On Afterschool festivities.

During their visits to the science centers, students will learn about topics such as solar energy and renewable resources, the history of the oil industry, and astronomy. They will conduct experiments, build robots, learn about STEM career opportunities, and more.

Bright House views the experiences as an investment in the company’s future.  Said Kimberly Maki, corporate vice president, corporate communications and public relations, “We hope that by providing afterschool students with opportunities to participate in hands-on activities that teach science and math, we can encourage more young people to consider careers in these crucial fields.”

JUN
19
2014

IN THE FIELD
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Power down & celebrate summer

By Ursula Helminski

This weekend, longtime afterschool supporter Torani Syrups has posed a positive challenge:  take the Power Down Pledge and #PowerDown your devices, and connect up with friends, family and community to celebrate the start of summer.  They’ve been posting some creative ideas for your Power Down activity: family camping in the living room, using a cell phone pile where no one is allowed to look at their device for the duration of the meal, or going on a celestial scavenger hunt with help from NASA

Afterschool programs are taking up the challenge, too, displaying the creative energy that we all love about our field—from families creating a 3D town using supplies they are donating to a local pantry, to a family dinner night at an animal shelter where families make doggie treats and read to the animals!

We’re all in here at the Afterschool Alliance, and I hope you will join us—take the Power Down Pledge—and celebrate the start of summer this weekend as we will, connecting with those around us.

For the past nine years, Torani’s Art for Kids project has highlighted the importance of afterschool programs nationwide by featuring the artwork of afterschool students on limited-edition beverage labels. The company donates a percentage of the sales of the limited edition bottles to the Afterschool Alliance.

MAR
11
2014

IN THE FIELD
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Who's afraid of digital learning?

By Ursula Helminski

One of the funnier slides from Jaime’s presentation

The use of technology raises a lot of contradictory and complex concerns: too much use; too little access; social disconnectedness; dismal STEM pipelines.  Jaime Casap, Google’s senior education evangelist, didn’t have answers for everything, but he made some compelling points during his presentation at the National AfterSchool Association Annual Conference on approaching learning today—something that, in his view, can’t be done without considering the role of afterschool, and the role of technology.  Here are a couple points I walked away with:

“Kids are wired differently these days.” Referencing what we know about evolution, Jamie took this one down pretty effectively, saying that brains are not now fundamentally different, and we should not look at our kids as though they are built differently.  Like us, they are not good at multitasking.  They can’t do two things at once any better than we can. 

MAR
10
2014

STEM
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Schooled by the Wednesday Science Seminar kids

By Ursula Helminski

This past weekend I had the pleasure of getting to listen—and not present—at the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention in New York City.  Given the long winter, I was in need of inspiration.  Three middle schoolers delivered. Actually, they demanded. A lot.  Not just of me but also of my teammates and all the other adults who had to work together to build an attractive, cost-efficient and effective package for a peach. 

We couldn’t sit with anyone we knew. We had to present a prototype drawing for approval.  We were charged a return fee for trying to trade in poms-poms for more masking tape.  Despite the rigor, we got really into it.  And then these kids took our precious package and slammed it against a wall, held it against a heat lamp and dumped water on it. Thanks, guys.

Apparently this is just the sort of thing they do every week in Wednesday Science Seminars. Three students from the afterschool program created a PowerPoint, tweaked a design project to make it “hard enough” for us and assessed our work at the end of the session.  The kids were empowered, or rather IN power, and seemed to be having the time of their lives building STEM skills. 

FEB
7
2014

IN THE FIELD
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The truth about the best Super Bowl ad

By Ursula Helminski

What was the best Super Bowl ad?  That’s not really the point, if you ask afterschool teens who participate in The LAMP’s (Learning About Multimedia Project) media literacy program. They might ask back what those ads reveal about us and our culture, and how ads might be manipulating viewers.

At the Break the Super Bowl event last Sunday night, teens from the McBurney YMCA remixed and deconstructed Super Bowl commercials as they aired, ultimately creating original works of video criticism.  The “broken ad” pieces were created with a budget of $0, on a regular laptop computer, in less time than half a football game.  Yet they raised important questions about the marketing techniques we are exposed to every day.

Check out their YouTube channel for all of their videos.

JAN
29
2014

FUNDING
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Why invest in afterschool & the systems to support it--2 new videos

By Ursula Helminski

The Wallace Foundation has released two great new videos that make a clear and compelling case for investing in afterschool programs and the city systems needed to support them.

"Afterschool: Hours of Opportunity" features the data and images of powerful afterschool experiences, demonstrating the importance of afterschool programs in providing opportunities to expand and deepen learning, to complement the school day with fun and engaging projects, and  to close the opportunity gap.  As featured expert Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University says, "Afterschool is where the community can help the school push back against the hungry bear of poverty." 

“Better Together: Boosting Afterschool by Building Citywide Systems” hits on the elements essential to supporting programs: systems that address data, quality, leadership and coordination.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAN
27
2014

RESEARCH
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Working moms on the brink: Americans want help for moms and kids

By Ursula Helminski

The latest Shriver Report on poverty in the U.S. shines a light on the many challenges facing working women, especially working moms, and the supports that could help them gain sure footing and step away from the brink of financial disaster.  While women hold much sway as consumers and voters, too many are struggling to stay afloat, despite working harder than ever.  The 2014 Shriver Report, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink reports that:

  • Women are nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers in the country.
  • 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income.
  • The median earnings of full-time female workers are still just 77 percent of the median earnings of their male counterparts.

What’s refreshing is that Americans recognize we need to do more to support working women and families, and afterschool programs and child care are an enormous part of the solution. The Shriver Report poll of 3,000 Americans found that: