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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 Erik Peterson
JUL
2

POLICY
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State afterschool policy update

By Erik Peterson

While Congress remains stalled with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the 2015 budget appropriations process; states and localities are experiencing considerable momentum. Among the jurisdictions making progress in advancing funding and policy for afterschool programs are Washington, D.C., New York state and California:

  • In Washington, D.C., the city council recently passed their FY2015 budget, including a modest increase in the D.C. Public Schools Out-of-School Time Program to support afterschool and summer learning programs, resulting in a total funding level of $8.4 million. Funding to support community-based organizations providing expanded learning programming was held stable and includes $10 million for 21st Century Community Learning Center grants and $3 million for the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation. The D.C. community schools initiative was funded at $500,000. 
  • In New York state last week the governor announced awardees for the first round of Extended Learning Time grants, while in New York City the mayor recently released details of a $145 million expansion of middle school afterschool programs as well as $52 million for the development of 40 community schools. The $24 million Extended Learning Time grants were awarded to nine school districts statewide, including NYC. The state Department of Education has posted a list of the winners on its website. The $52 million grant to launch the development of 40 innovative community schools will match comprehensive social services and learning programs with 40 high-need public schools across NYC. Coupled with pre-K for every child and expanded afterschool programs for middle school students, the mayor pledged to make community schools a key component of transforming the education system and lifting up every child.
  • In California last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced 333 programs will receive a combined $51 million in state and federal grants to provide expanded learning opportunities for students to bolster student learning outside of the regular school hours. In the latest round of funding, $51 million was distributed through three grants: the After School Education and Safety program, the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers—Elementary & Middle Schools program, and the state 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens program. More information on the awarded grants can be accessed through the California Department of Education’s Before & After School webpage. 
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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget ESEA Legislation State Policy Sustainability
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JUL
2

POLICY
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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passes Senate, strengthens supports for youth

By Erik Peterson

Last week the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The bipartisan, bicameral bill seeks to improve the nation’s workforce development system. As discussed in a previous blog, the legislation focuses in part on providing comprehensive supports and programming for out-of-school young people. Those provisions from Title I of WIOA include:

  • Expanding the definition of out-of-school youth to encompass young people ages 16 to 24 who are not attending school, have dropped out of school, and face extensive barriers to work and to completing their education. Title I targets 75 percent of youth funds to provide services for out-of-school youth.
  • Addresses eligibility issues that can make it difficult for local areas to develop comprehensive, cross-system approaches to serve youth who are most in need. Title I does so by expanding the definition of low-income individuals to include those who receive or are eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunches and adding an expansive definition for individuals with a barrier to employment. Title I also incorporates a special rule that allows young people living in high-poverty areas to be deemed eligible for services.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of youth funds (20 percent) to support work experiences for low-income and vulnerable young people.
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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Youth Development
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JUN
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate

By Erik Peterson

This week Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals ActS. 2527, which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs, making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program, addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities and by providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.

Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning Sustainability
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JUN
23

IN THE FIELD
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NYC expands access to afterschool programs for middle school students

By Erik Peterson

Last week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio with school and community leaders announced plans to increase the number of New York City middle schools offering quality afterschool programming. The announcement at New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx included the selection of 271 providers that will oversee expanded afterschool opportunities for middle school students beginning in September.

As a result of a request for proposals (RFP) released in March, New York City middle school students will have access to afterschool programs in 562 schools beginning this fall, a 142 percent increase over the current 231. In the next fiscal year, the number of citywide program openings will jump 76 percent, to more than 79,300. Overseeing the new programs will be 108 eligible community-based organizations, nearly half of which will be new to city afterschool funding: a complete list can be found here.

In addition to expanding afterschool to 85 percent of middle schools in the city, the RFP calls for programs to be open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year, with providers offering 540 hours of afterschool programming. The proposed price per participant was also increased to $3,000 to cover additional hours and reflect the actual costs providers say will enable them to hire and retain certified staff and offer high-quality programs.

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learn more about: Equity Sustainability Youth Development
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JUN
18

FUNDING
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New report on learning and the Internet emphasizes role of afterschool and informal education

By Erik Peterson

This week the Aspen Institutes Task Force on Learning and the Internet released its much anticipated report, Learner at the Center of a Networked World.  The report and series of recommendations seeks to ensure today’s students are at the center of, and have access to, safe learning inside and outside of the classroom that prepares them for future success. The comprehensive report addresses the serious issues of trust, safety, privacy, digital literacy and accessibility—especially for underserved students. In their recommendations, the task force recommends actions to help all students connect safely and maximize learning experiences online.

The task force—composed of 20 thought leaders with diverse perspectives on learning, innovation and safety, and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation—finalized the report after a year of study, outreach to stakeholders including the afterschool field, public input and internal deliberations. Former Governor of Florida and Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) Jeb Bush and Co-Founder of Voto Latino Rosario Dawson served as Honorary Co-Chairs.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Equity Evaluations Youth Development
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JUN
9

POLICY
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My Brother's Keeper Task Force reports back to the president

By Erik Peterson

In late February, Pres. Obama appointed a high-level task force to oversee his new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative “to develop a coordinated federal effort to improve significantly the expected life outcomes for boys and young men of color.” Recently the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force released a report on their first 90 days of actions, including key recommendations for the initiative moving forward.

Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the president’s task force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans through online and in-person listening sessions, including a number of afterschool and summer learning providers.  Cities and towns, businesses, foundations, faith leaders and individuals have made commitments to helping youth get a strong start in school and life and later connect them to mentoring, support networks and specialized skills they need to find a good job or go to college.

The 90-day report laid out cross-cutting recommendations, seven broad themes and specific recommendations.  The importance of afterschool is highlighted in the specific recommendations, which call for expansion of effective afterschool and summer programs to accelerate socio-emotional and academic learning and health.  The recommendations also call for a public-private campaign to recruit high-quality, sustained mentors—an important component of many afterschool programs.  Details on the recommendations are below. 

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Equity Federal Policy Media Outreach Obama Youth Development
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JUN
3

POLICY
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Bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act proposed in Congress

By Erik Peterson

Late last month, a bipartisan group of law makers in the House and Senate introduced the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bill that would reauthorize and update the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and eliminate duplicative programs, improve reporting requirements and develop a set of common performance measures.

With regard to youth programs, WIOA would:

  • Require 75 percent of youth funding to support out-of-school youth, of which 20 percent is prioritized for "work-based activities." This would include funding career pathways development, dropout recovery efforts, skills training, and education and training leading to a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • Provide youth with disabilities the services and support they need to be successful in competitive, integrated employment.
  • Reauthorize the YouthBuild program; stipulating an independent evaluation of activities is conducted at least every four years for the purposes of improving the management and effectiveness of related programs and activities. The bill includes language that also allows the YouthBuild program to expand into additional in-demand industry sectors or occupations specific to its region, in recognition of the "changing demands of the economy."
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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Legislation Youth Development
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MAY
29

CHALLENGE
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Personal experience and research share the stage at Congressional afterschool briefing

By Erik Peterson

On May 22—in conjunction with the 13th annual Afterschool for All Challenge—the Senate Afterschool Caucus, the Afterschool Alliance and the Expanded Learning Project joined forces to host a Capitol Hill briefing featuring compelling stories and encouraging research that point to the success and potential of afterschool and summer learning programs. 

Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Education, shared new data that shows how quality afterschool programs can help close the achievement gap. She emphasized findings that show afterschool programs are particularly effective at improving achievement and positive behavior among low-income students. She noted that afterschool researchers and advocates have data that show that the long-term outcomes associated with afterschool participation are positive and compelling and should move the discussion about the benefits of afterschool beyond the safety and good behaviors conversations.  In addition, Vandell stated that in recent years the research tools and findings have facilitated the incorporation of measures of intensity, duration and quality. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Afterschool Caucus Afterschool Voices Equity Events and Briefings Academic Enrichment
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