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Snacks by Rachel Clark
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
DEC
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Looking back at 2016 in the afterschool field

By Rachel Clark

2016 was an eventful year for the United States and the world, and the changes that were set into motion this year are impacting the afterschool field just as they’ve affected communities across the country.

As we look ahead to the year to come, take a moment to bid farewell to 2016 and look back at some of the biggest moments of the year.

  1. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Election Day was easily the most consequential moment of 2016 for our country. Take a look at our early analysis of what the Trump Administration could mean for the afterschool field.
  2. A new Congress was elected. Though Donald Trump’s victory was the biggest story on Election Day, the afterschool field should pay close attention to the 115th Congress, which is set to make big moves in the next several months. Learn what afterschool advocates should look for in the first few months of 2017.
  3. New research highlighted the wide-ranging impact of America’s afterschool programs. This year, we finished up the 2014 America After 3PM series with our first-ever special reports on afterschool in rural America and afterschool in communities of concentrated poverty. New reports also highlighted the impacts of afterschool STEM and the state of computer science education in afterschool.
  4. Lights On Afterschool partnered with two NBA teams to kick off the 2016 celebration. In one of our most exciting Lights On kickoffs to date, we joined NBA Math Hoops to celebrate afterschool with a Math Hoops tournament before the Golden State Warriors faced off against the Sacramento Kings in San Jose, Calif. The tournament winners—and the beginning of the national rally for afterschool programs—were even recognized at halftime!
  5. Notable shifts occurred in state legislatures. With party control switching in seven chambers and voters in two states passing three ballot initiatives that could impact afterschool funding, November 8 was an important day at the ballot box for many states.
  6. President-elect Trump announced his nominee for education secretary. Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist and former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan, is a longtime school choice advocate whose family foundation has supported local afterschool providers in the past.
  7. Diverse partnerships brightened Lights On Afterschool 2016. From the tenth annual lighting of the Empire State Building in honor of afterschool to a Senate resolution recognizing the celebration, partnerships at the local, state and national levels made this year’s rally shine.

What was the biggest moment of 2016 for you and your afterschool program? We want to hear from you! Share a photo of your favorite or most important memory on Instagram and tag @afterschool4all for a chance to be featured. 

DEC
12
2016

FUNDING
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Your arts program could win $10,000 and an invitation to the White House

By Rachel Clark

Des Moines Public Schools students showed off their artistic talents at their 2016 Lights On Afterschool celebration.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities is currently seeking applicants for the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. According to the Committee, the award is “the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.”

12 outstanding programs from a wide range of communities across the country will be recognized with a $10,000 grant, an invitation to accept the award at the White House, and a full year of capacity-building and communications support to ensure their programming will benefit youth for years to come.

Who’s eligible?

The short answer: many afterschool programs!

The eligibility criteria specify that applicants must operate as ongoing, regularly-scheduled programs for children and youth outside of the school day, using one or more disciplines of the arts or humanities as the core content of their programs, and must concentrate on underserved children and youth. The programming must involve children and youth as active participants, rather than only as an audience for arts or humanities experiences, and must integrate arts and humanities education with youth development goals.

Additionally, programs must have been operational since January 2013 for a minimum of five years, including 2017, and must be a 501(c)(3) organization, state or local government entity, or federally recognized tribal community or tribe.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Arts
NOV
9
2016

POLICY
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Donald Trump won. What's next for afterschool?

By Rachel Clark

Photo by Michael Vadon

After a marathon campaign, property developer and reality television personality Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States with 279 electoral votes to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 228—31 electoral votes are still up for grabs.

Despite dominating the headlines for the last 18 months, the race for the White House has devoted little attention to key domestic policy issues like K-12 education and child care, thus leaving many voters wondering what to expect under a Trump Administration.

We examined Trump’s proposals and public statements, as well as the Republican Party platform, to get a sense of what the afterschool community can expect from the next president.

The Republican platform

The Republican Party platform emphasizes “choice-based, parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling.” It promises to repeal the Common Core State Standards, and supports a constitutional amendment affirming parents’ rights to “direct their children’s education, care and upbringing.”

The platform prioritizes building a “choice-based” education system that gives families a range of educational options, including homeschooling, career and technical education, private and parochial schools, charter systems, online programs, and early college high schools. It also recognizes teachers’ role as partners in children’s education and the importance of supporting teachers while maintaining accountability, proposing merit pay structures to recognize effective teachers, as well as background checks for all personnel who interact with children.

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learn more about: POTUS
AUG
19
2016

STEM
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Guest blog: Help kids reach for the stars with YouthAstroNet

By Rachel Clark

Written by Erika Wright, Science Education Specialist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

How do we translate young people’s intrinsic curiosity about space science into increased interest in STEM careers, particularly among girls and those from underserved communities? That is exactly what the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics intends to learn through our YouthAstroNet Program and accompanying research project. You can apply to host your own YouthAstroNet program, and receive free training, curriculum, and access to the experts on the YouthAstroNet Team!

What is YouthAstroNet?

The Harvard-Smithsonian Youth Astronomy Network (YouthAstroNet) is an online community of youth, educators, and scientists that aims to help youth typically underrepresented in the sciences gain confidence and identity as someone who can do science through unique access to the resources of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. YouthAstroNet engages youth in grades 5-8 in a number of hands-on STEAM-related activities from image processing to engineering/design challenges. As a member of the YouthAstroNet community youth can take their own images using remotely controlled robotic telescopes, process those images using a professional-grade image-processing tool to learn more about space, and even speak directly with scientist mentors from the Center for Astrophysics. 

Contribute to the research

In addition to being a diverse online community, YouthAstroNet is an NSF-funded research project that aims to determine what strategies have the highest impact when it comes to turning interest in space into belonging and career aspirations in the STEM fields. By participating in the program, and utilizing the online portal with your youth, you and your students will provide valuable data about program factors that lead to positive outcomes for youth.

Join the network!

Educators from every style of learning institution—from afterschool programs to museums to traditional classrooms—are invited to join the network with their youth and utilize resources in a way that best suits their learning environment. No prior astronomy knowledge is required. Through a 3-week asynchronous online workshop, educators are trained to use robotic telescopes, image processing software, and the interactive portal itself, as well as given access to a proven set of hands-on curriculum. Following participation in the training, educators will have ongoing access to the wide array of learning resources, as well as support from YouthAstroNet staff.

Important Dates

Application Deadline: August 24, 2016 is the formal deadline, but applications will be continue to be reviewed for the following week.

Informational Webinars: August 29 at 3:30pm ET and 6:30pmET and August 30 at 1:00pm ET and 4:30pm ET

Asynchronous Training: September 7th–21st

If you are interested in participating, please complete this brief survey. For more information, check out our Recruitment Flyer.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
JAN
20
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Join us in the Sunshine State for NAA16!

By Rachel Clark

The National AfterSchool Association’s 27th annual convention is just two months away. On March 20-23, we’ll be in Orlando presenting workshops, exhibiting, and serving as a proud sponsor of the event. We hope to see many of you there!

NAA will be announcing a full schedule of more than 170 sessions in February, but you can download a preview now. You can also check out NAA’s top ten must-see workshops—we’re honored to have our workshop on effective afterschool STEM messaging included among them. Anita Krishnamurthi, Afterschool Alliance Vice President for STEM Policy and an NAA Most Influential in STEM honoree, will join the Frameworks Institute's Jennifer Nichols to guide you through new afterschool STEM data and how you can use it to tell a story. It’s an excellent chance to learn to make the case for afterschool STEM.

In addition to dozens of engaging workshops, NAA16 will offer more than 20 hours of networking opportunities, more than 100 exhibitors, and several engaging keynote speakers. Among them is Dr. Angela Duckworth, a cutting-edge researcher and MacArthur Fellow. Dr. Duckworth will lead an engaging discussion on “grit,” the skill she believes is most closely tied to lifelong success. It's certain to be a thought-provoking talk exploring how afterschool can help students succeed in school and in life.

Don't miss the premier event for afterschool professionals. Be sure to register by February 1 to take advantage of the early bird rate. We'll see you (and 1,500 colleagues from across the country) in Orlando!

DEC
31
2015

IN THE FIELD
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What was your favorite #AfterschoolMoment of 2015?

By Rachel Clark

From research to policy to one of the biggest Lights On Afterschool rallies ever, 2015 has been a banner year for afterschool. To celebrate, we asked the field to share their favorite afterschool moments, memories, and milestones with us on social media. 

Programs in West VirginiaMississippi, and Florida highlighted brilliant Lights On Afterschool celebrations. Georgia welcomed the state’s first-ever afterschool standards. Some programs celebrated their inaugural year in 2015, while Haddonfield Child Care in New Jersey celebrated its 30th anniversary.  

Here are a few of our favorite moments of 2015 here at the Afterschool Alliance: 

  • March: Kids on the Move special report. We’ve known for a while that afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire learning, and help working families, but this special report in the America After 3PM research series illustrated that they’re also a critical weapon in the fight against childhood obesity.