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Snacks by Elizabeth Tish
AUG
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Police chiefs: Our communities need afterschool!

By Elizabeth Tish

One of the greatest benefits of quality afterschool programs is their ability to keep kids safe and engaged in learning after the end of the school day. That work isn’t going unnoticed: recently, we’ve seen a spate of police chiefs lending their voices to support afterschool and the positive impact it has on their communities.

Afterschool programs work,” Chief Russel B. Laine of the Fox Lake Police Department in Illinois wrote to the Northwest Herald.

Of a recent trip to the Illinois state capitol, Chief Laine recalled, “We asked that policymakers settle our state budget problems in a way that shores up some of Illinois’ most important weapons for fighting crime: proven investments in the well-being of children and youth.” Chief Laine emphasized that afterschool programs “help keep troubled youth off the streets during ‘prime time for juvenile crime,’ and help increase graduation rates.”

On the subject of funding cuts, Chief Laine had a clear message for the community: “Such shortsighted cuts, delays and stagnation hurt children and families throughout our state. But they also significantly set back efforts at reducing crime and violence.”

AUG
8
2017

IN THE FIELD
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How to bring older adult volunteers into youth-serving organizations

By Elizabeth Tish

“Every child deserves a web of support, and every older adult has something to give.”

That is the motto of the Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign, a national effort launched by Encore.org to inspire adults over 50 to make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth. By dismantling the age barriers between generations and connecting youth and children to older adults through positive, everyday interactions, Gen2Gen aims to improve the lives of people across the age spectrum: empowering older adults to give back to their communities and rebuilding the villages that raise our children.

As personal testimonies and research point to benefits for kids and older adults alike, intergenerational friendships and interactions present themselves as a path to creating closer-knit and happier communities. In particular, informal learning and childcare programs stand to benefit from an invested, diverse cohort of volunteers—making afterschool programs prime opportunities to bring senior volunteers into the lives of school-age children.

Are you interested in getting involved with the campaign? Here are a few ways get started:

JUL
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Highlights from Policy Studies Associates’ afterschool report

By Elizabeth Tish

Policy Studies Associates (PSA) conducts research in education and youth development. This spring, PSA published a short report on afterschool program quality and effectiveness, reviewing more than 25 years of afterschool program evaluations they have completed.

The report further substantiates the benefits of afterschool for three specific stakeholders: students, families, and schools. The full details are available in the report, which covers the following topics in depth:

Afterschool programs work for students

  1. Increase school attendance and ease transitions into high school
  2. Offer students project-based learning opportunities
  3. Improve state language and math assessment scores while developing teamwork skills and personal confidence

Afterschool programs work for families

  1. Provide safe spaces for enriching activities and academic support
  2. Make it easier for parents to keep their job
  3. Provide an option for parents to miss less work

Afterschool programs work for schools

  1. Enhance the effectiveness of the school and reinforce school-day curriculum
  2. Create a college-going and career-inspiring culture in the school
  3. Foster a welcoming school environment

Want to find out which evaluations these statements came from? Visit the PSA brief, Afterschool Program Quality and Effectiveness: 25 Years of Results!!

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data
MAY
30
2017

IN THE FIELD
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2 ways Wyoming afterschool programs help youth in the justice system

By Elizabeth Tish

Last month, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance hosted representatives and program leaders from more than 100 organizations in the juvenile justice field from across the state of Wyoming at their Statewide Summit on Juvenile Justice. Attendees included city and state government officials, youth service providers, prevention coalition members, and many other leaders from across the state.

Over the course of the day, experts in juvenile justice and afterschool spoke about ways to develop opportunities for youth in the justice system to succeed and thrive, engaging both juvenile justice and afterschool professionals. Resources from the event are accessible through the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance.

Here are two ways Wyoming afterschool programs are working with the juvenile justice system to benefit kids.

APR
12
2017

IN THE FIELD
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10 best moments from the National Afterschool Summit

By Elizabeth Tish

On April 5, leaders in education, business, media, government, sports, and more gathered at the University of Southern California for the 2017 National Afterschool Summit, “Ready to Work,” co-hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute, and After-School All-Stars. High-wattage speakers brought their diverse backgrounds and perspectives to a series of engaging discussions about how afterschool prepares students to succeed at work and in life.

With so many powerful insights shared by an impressive roster of experts, it was hard to narrow the list of highlights, but here are ten of our favorite moments from the event:

  1. The Bell Gardens Intermediate and Generation Dance Team kicked off the event, led by their teacher and mayor, Jose Mendoza. Taking the stage after the performance, Extra’s Mario Lopez said he was an afterschool kid like the dancers, who come from a low-income community: “That was me... I’m living proof of what afterschool can do.”
  2. Matt Iseman, host of American Ninja Warrior and winner of The New Celebrity Apprentice, called us “Afterschool Ninja Warriors” and cheered on our efforts to battle President Trump’s proposed budget cut. Iseman commented, “Working parents are more productive at work when they know their kids are in a safe, productive environment.”
  3. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set the tone for the event, reminding us that more than 20 million kids are waiting for an afterschool program.
  4. NFL star JJ Watt, whose foundation provides afterschool opportunities to middle schoolers, shared that afterschool programs teach skills like teamwork and how to work hard. As Watt pointed out, these skills are not only important in school, but also in work and life.
  5. Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, discussed the reason afterschool and work are connected—and why employers should care about afterschool: "We want a diverse, educated workforce domestically. Afterschool can have a huge impact on that."
  6. Senate Afterschool Caucus co-chair Senator Lisa Murkowski stopped by via video message to encourage us all to reach out to our representatives in Congress and share the message that #AfterschoolWorks.
  7. Oregon Superintendent of the Year Heidi Sipe said, “Afterschool helps students dream new dreams… see a different future… Afterschool is a magical time. It is nonnegotiable.”
  8. “Afterschool makes a difference in the economic mobility of families and kids,” said Charlotte (N.C.) Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
  9. American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Gerard Robinson noted that afterschool helps kids “build minds, bodies, and spirits,” and the social capital skills kids need to succeed. 
  10. Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, touched on the reason for the event, saying, "Afterschool programs aren't just for academic preparation, but life preparation."

These are just a few highlights from the event. Relive the event by watching the full recording of the Summit, or check out what people said about the event on Twitter. Share your favorite moments with us using the hashtag #AfterschoolWorks! 

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Budget Celebrities
MAR
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club

By Elizabeth Tish

This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants, and providers of afterschool programs. This post is also an installment in our Afterschool & Law Enforcement series, which explores the ways afterschool programs are partnering with police to keep communities safe and growing strong. Our latest installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series highlights three recommendations for police officers working with afterschool programs.

Liam McEvilly, Program Director of the Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club, is a former police officer. While serving in the police force in the United Kingdom, McEvilly often worked with youth development organizations, inspiring him to make a career change and work with children full time.  

When he found a home on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, McEvilly wanted to reach out to the local police department to let them know that they were welcome to stop by the program when on duty in the area. A parent in the program connected him with Officer Carla Sias, who works on community relations for the Bainbridge Police Department.

Officer Sias began coming to the Boys & Girls Club weekly to talk and play with the kids. Sometimes she brings in other officers from her department as well—in December, they threw an ice cream party for the club. When Officer Sias is there, she joins the kids in their daily activities. That might mean joining a game of pool, coloring, or walking students to a close by senior facility to read to residents. She sometimes talks to the kids about public safety or answers their questions about police while they play.

For many kids, playing with an officer after school allows them to learn more about a profession they have not learned a lot about. Afterschool often provides a casual environment for officers and kids to get to know each other as people. It is an opportunity for students’ typical interactions with officers to be positive experiences, rather than only encountering police officers if a negative situation occurs.

For others, interacting with an officer might be more challenging. On her first day at the Boys & Girls Club, Officer Sias met a middle school student who had faced a negative experience with a police officer when she was young. Seeing an officer in her afterschool program made the student uncomfortable.  Officer Sias was able to talk with the student about her past, answer questions about the role of police, and connect with the student’s school guidance counselor to make sure the student was getting the support that she needed. The two were able to form a bond and they now check in on each other when they see each other at the club.

In addition to spending time with kids at the club and forming their image of police through positive interaction, Officer Sias has seen her involvement with the Boys & Girls Club affect other interactions outside of afterschool. Now when she visits schools, she is able to greet the kids she has spent time with afterschool, forming a stronger bond.

Officer Sias tries to develop a relationship with the staff, as well as the kids. She works hard to make sure she is an asset to the club, providing them with resources and support they might not otherwise have. She is happy to step in where she is needed and step out where she is not. Soon, when she has had time to identify the needs of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, she might collaborate with staff to create a more structured public safety-focused program and curriculum.

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learn more about: Youth Development Community Partners
JAN
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: 3 recommendations for officers

By Elizabeth Tish

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnerships, tools for working with school resource officers, and a Lights On Afterschool event that forged a new relationship with law enforcement.

Cops and kids come together to shoot hoops after school at the Police Athletic League.

In 2016, the Afterschool Alliance talked to police officers and afterschool programs about partnerships between law enforcement and afterschool. Throughout the process we learned that law enforcement can be an important and unique partner for afterschool programs. To help jumpstart new partnerships in communities across the country, the officers we spoke with offered advice for other officers and afterschool programs looking to collaborate.

Be passionate.

When choosing officers to get involved in this work, include those who are passionate about the mission. At the Burlington Police Department in Burlington, Iowa, officers are encouraged to be involved with PIECES, their local afterschool program, but not required. Major Darren Grimshaw, the officer in charge of community engagement, sends officers who want to be involved to the program while on duty. The department supports this initiative as a large facet of their community relations work. Some officers even work with the program when they are off duty.

Officer Jeff Hedtke, who runs the California Gang Resistance Intervention and Prevention program (CalGRIP) through the Corona Police Department, says the reason his program is successful is that his officers are sincere with the kids who participate. “If they don’t think you care, they won’t buy in,” he explained.

Consider stakeholder needs.

Officers, kids, parents, and the community are all affected by afterschool programs. Consider as many stakeholders’ needs as possible when designing a new program or programming. When the Child Center of New York at Basie Beacon IS 72 decided to invite police officers to their program, they worked together with their youth council to design the event to fit students’ needs.

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