By Luci Manning
Students in a STEAM-focused afterschool program recently used their skills to give back to those in need in their community. Middle school students in the SHINE afterschool program made blankets by double-knotting strips of fabric, and then donated the finished products to Ruth’s Place, a temporary shelter for homeless women. “It was a chance to do something with friends and to do something for other people,” 13-year-old Rita Palchanis told the Times-Leader. The blanket donation was the first part of the program’s new community service initiative called “Giving Back through Engineering.”
Adults and children are pairing up to learn about science as part of the new Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center Mentoring Program, an offshoot of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia. Through the program, 33 adult “bigs” are paired with “littles” to perform science experiments, work on art projects and spend time bonding and learning from each other. Mentors act as positive role models for the youths while maintaining a friendly, casual relationship. “We do experiments a lot in science [class], but not like this,” 12-year-old Jaseph Cagas told the Roanoke Times.
While building things out of Legos and playing computer games may seem like plain fun, students in the Zaniac science and technology program are actually picking up valuable engineering and technical skills in their afterschool sessions. The program stresses hands-on experience and peer-based learning to engage young people in STEM subjects. “We try to give kids that opportunity, not teach in a lecture-based environment where we stand at the front of the class,” Zaniac franchise development manager Zane Brandt told the Deseret News. “Put something in their hands that may be too advanced for them and let them learn as they play.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is building on the pre-kindergarten and community schools plan he launched last year with a new Out-of-School Time Initiative, which he announced last Thursday with Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis and School Superintendent William Hite Jr. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the initiative will be rolled out over several years, funded both by the city and partnerships with the school district and philanthropic foundations. The program aspires to involve all 250,000 students in the city in out-of-school time programs over the next seven years. The initiative will focus on literacy for kindergarten through third-grade students and workforce development for ninth- through twelfth-graders.
By Luci Manning
An out-of-school time program in New Jersey is showing underprivileged students that college can be part of their future. Aspire High arranges college visits for middle schoolers, pairing them with mentors at each university who talk to them about college life and how to build the important social and academic skills that will put them on the path to higher education. Many of the students would be the first in their families to attend college and may not see it as a realistic option. “What people don’t realize is that this one Saturday can change the lives of so many kids,” Aspire High president and co-founder Lillian Perez told The Signal..
A group of teenagers far surpassed their goal of collecting 150 books during a book drive meant to fill a new multigenerational community center that will open later this year. The Regional Engagement Center’s Teen Leadership Club has been meeting for months to plan programs and activities for the new recreation center, which will include study spaces, an afterschool café and exercise classes for people of all ages. “I hope it’s a place where kids who have difficulties can come and break some bad habits,” 17-year-old Brandy Inch, a member of the club, told the Daily Item.
The Boys & Girls Club of Yellowstone County has expanded its outreach to homeless students, providing more struggling youth with academic assistance, a free dinner and a safe place to spend time after school. The club’s Power Hour homework help program gives students a chance to build academic self-confidence and complete their work, something they may not be able to do if they don’t have a structured home life. “They can be the example in class instead of feeling bad that they don’t have their homework done,” McKinley Elementary School principal Nikki Trahan told the Billings Gazette.
Students are developing healthy habits and academic discipline at The Brain Kitchen, a new afterschool program developed by Indiana Wesleyan University professor Amanda Drury, the Chronicle Tribune reports. Throughout the week, students receive homework help and cooking lessons and participate in guided exercise activities, with the aim of stimulating their brain development and learning important life skills in a fun, engaging environment.
By Luci Manning
Breckenridge middle schoolers are learning skills that could one day lead to well-paying manufacturing jobs at Roanoke’s Maker Mart afterschool program. Students in the program work with drills and saws to get hands-on training that will help them learn math and technical skills in a fun, engaging way and prepare them for the workforce. “I want to trick them into that,” program director Kathleen Duncan told WDBJ. “….I want to have this starkly different feel than a lot of the stuff they are getting in a typical classroom.”
North Hollywood High School students will soon take part in a competition to hone their cybersecurity skills. The semifinal round of CyberPatriot IX: The National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is an anti-hacking competition that will test the students’ ability to repel simulated cyberattacks. Computer science teacher and coach Jay Gehringer said teaching cybersecurity skills is valuable for the future of both students and the country. “I really feel like I’m helping students pursue a career, I’m showing them something they might find interesting and I’m doing something that will make America a better place,” he told the Daily News of Los Angeles.
Each quarter, nearly 200 women in the organization 100+ Women Who Care Peterborough pick a nonprofit and each pledge to donate at least $50 to its cause. This quarter, they raised nearly $10,000 to jump-start Lab Girls, an afterschool STEM program aimed at empowering middle school girls. “It is a vote of confidence and belief in our region’s girls,” Susie Spikol Faber, community programs coordinator at the Harris Center, which will run the program, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “….The club will develop a network of girls supporting girls with women scientists as role models, encouraging young adolescent girls to keep connected to these STEM skills and grow their abilities.”
The local 4-H will soon offer special afterschool workshops in Custer and Fall River counties each month, giving students of all ages a chance to explore robotics, aviation, cooking, art, nature and more. The workshops will be offered to students of all ages, whether or not they belong to 4-H, as well as their parents. “This is a local effort and idea to provide more innovative, creative and diverse learning opportunities for our youth,” South Dakota State University Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor Brad Keizer told the Hot Springs Star. “The idea is to offer these workshops where the majority of our 4-H families would find them most convenient with their busy schedules.”
By Luci Manning
Mississippi State University students are acting as homework helpers and positive role models to low-income students in Starkville through the Brickfire Mentoring Program. The Brickfire Project helps low-income families through childcare, afterschool programs and job training. The program has proved beneficial for both youth and college students, according to Mississippi State senior Holly Travis. “I fell in love with the kids and saw an opportunity to have a lasting impact on the students,” she told the Reflector.
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton is trying to boost the number of women in STEM fields through a new afterschool initiative, the Lieutenant Governor’s STEM Challenge for Girls. The program involves 33 students from two Fayette County middle schools and aims to eventually expand statewide. Students will participate in six afterschool sessions working on STEM projects and hearing from professionals in various scientific fields. Melissa Graham, science department chairwoman at Leestown Middle School, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the program is “going to show girls that it doesn’t matter what your gender is, that you can be successful in a STEM occupation.”
A collaboration between Detroit schools and a variety of arts and science venues is expanding learning opportunities for students throughout the city. The participating organizations—including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Belle Isle Nature Center and Detroit Symphony Orchestra—will engage students and families in afterschool events focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). “Our families and students need these experiences, and what happens inside the classrooms needs to be supported by what happens outside the classroom,” interim Detroit Schools Superintendent Alycia Meriweather told Detroit News.
After the afterschool program Project YES lost one of its major grants, a local woman decided to take supporting the program into her own hands. Dot Santy, who has volunteered for and donated to Project YES for the past ten years, is now trying a variety of methods to raise $35,000 so that the program can boost its enrollment from 19 to 85 students. She believes the program provides huge benefits to the community and the children it serves. “Success early encourages them to continue with their education and become contributing citizens to our community,” she told the Tucson Explorer.
By Luci Manning
A $30 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to fight poverty and build a supportive community for young people in a West Philadelphia neighborhood. Drexel University will coordinate the initiative in partnership with the city of Philadelphia and area nonprofits. Philadelphia was one of six cities to be awarded the grant, according to The Triangle. “These grants will provide cradle-to-career support for at-risk children in communities across the country, offering meaningful resources that will help them achieve their potential,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said in a statement.
Starting this semester, all students at a handful of Cullman County Schools will be able to receive a free afterschool meal, regardless of need and whether they attend the school where the meal is served. “There are a lot of kids who are at school later in the day. All your athletic teams; the band; many of the extracurricular groups—when those kids stay for practice, they can have an extra meal without having to wait until they get home,” Chief School Financial Officer Ed Roberson told the Cullman Times. “It’s really just a great program for a lot of students, for a lot of reasons.”
Writing in the Idaho Statesman, Idaho AfterSchool Network director Marie Hattaway urges state lawmakers to bolster out-of-school time programs in their policies: “Too often as we discuss quality education and its role in the future workforce, we just look to what is offered in the classroom.… It is imperative that policymakers and stakeholders consider partnerships with out-of-school programs to achieve statewide education goals, especially with STEM, workforce and literacy skills…. Idaho invests millions in education, millions in the 20 percent of time spent in the classroom. The other 80 percent of the time deserves strong consideration in state policies and budget. As the state strives to hit key educational benchmarks and goals, out-of-school time must not be overlooked.”
Students in the Durango Gametime afterschool and summer programs will learn to play chess and checkers on a large scale, thanks to the hard work and generosity of a 17-year-old Eagle Scout. Trever Snodgrass built the life-size chess and checkerboards himself and donated them to Chapman Hill, the Mason Center and the Durango Community Recreation Center as part of an Eagle Scout community service project, hoping they will ignite the youths’ imaginations. “When we first brought them in, the looks on their faces—it’s nice to know they’re enjoying it,” he told the Durango Herald. “I think the kids are going to love it.
By Luci Manning
Approximately 10,000 middle and high school girls from the Los Angeles area had a chance to attend a special screening of the new film ‘Hidden Figures’ and hear from some of the film’s stars about why it’s important for women of color to pursue careers in STEM fields. The event was organized by the LA Promise fund, a nonprofit that helps middle and high school girls prepare for college and careers, and featured Grammy winner Pharrell Williams, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and actors Janelle Monáe and Aldis Hodge. “Our goal here is to kill that very old-school mentality that math, science, technology and engineering are made for the male mind,” Williams told EdSource.
Students at the Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities are taking a break from winter to visit Hawaii – without leaving their afterschool classroom. The school’s artist-in-residence, Bria Zan Thompson, is spending two weeks teaching students about Hawaiian dance, legends, environment and culture. The two-week unit will culminate with a big dance production at the end of the week, with different grades responsible for different dances. According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, the artist-in-residence program brings in an outside professional to teach something students wouldn’t normally learn during the school day.
Students in a Philadelphia afterschool program are learning to create art that can last a lifetime. The middle and high school students involved in the Stained Glass Project learn stained glass window-making from two Temple University alumnae. In the 11 years the program has been running, the students have donated at least 115 stained glass windows to schools and centers around the world, including a primary school in South Africa and a Native American reservation in Minnesota, according to Temple News. “When in [the student’s] lives do they have a chance to do something and … donate it?” Joan Myerson Shrager, one of the women in charge of the program, said. “I think there’s a lot of pride in our students that they have created something very beautiful that they then donate.”
Teens and seniors came together over Bingo this MLK Day as part of President Barack Obama’s national call-to-service initiative, United We Serve. More than 100 students from the Westmoreland Teen Center and 31 AmeriCorps volunteers played games at nursing and retirement homes and passed out gift bags filled with compression socks, lip balm and lotions. “(I hope they learn) there isn’t really a difference between the populations,” teen center director Dawn Baumgardner told the Herald-Dispatch. “They are just like us. There is a lot that they can learn from the older generation. Hopefully it will encourage them to help out and volunteer more when they see the older population.”
By Luci Manning
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.”
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.
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.
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?”
By Luci Manning
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.
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.”
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.
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.”