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Snacks by Elizabeth Tish
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
JAN
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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4 ways you can connect with newly elected officials

By Elizabeth Tish

Tempe, AZ Mayor Mark Mitchell poses with students of Broadmor Kid Zone

This month, elected officials around the country step into office. This is an important time to reach out to your newly elected officials and remind them of afterschool’s role in your community, district or state. Offer to be a resource on the issue, and invite them to come see your program firsthand.

Not sure where to start? Here are some basic tips for reaching out to your representatives at all levels.

  1. Review statements, platforms and media coverage to make sure you understand the winning candidate’s position. Find a way to connect afterschool to their passion. Is their chief concern is creating jobs in your community? Tell them how afterschool offers workforce development opportunities.
  2. Write the official to offer to be a resource on afterschool, and to set up a site visit to a local program. You can use our sample letter to get started. It is often helpful to provide information about the impact of afterschool in your community—and it’s easy to do so with data points about afterschool in your state from the America After 3PM dashboard. Facts combined with relatable anecdotes can work together to create a strong narrative about the impact of afterschool. If you work with a program that receives 21st Century Community Learning Center funding, you should also be sure let them know about the impact it has.
  3. Invite the official to visit an afterschool program. When Afterschool Ambassador Kim Templeman contacted Congressman Tom Cole to visit her program, she called and left emails with his office. A representative from his office visited her program, and then encouraged the Congressman to attend too! During his visit, Rep. Cole saw firsthand what afterschool looks like, and Kim was able to show him the direct impact of federal funds on her program. This type of personal interaction can help any official understand more of what you do and how you do it—whether they represent you on a federal, state or local level. Before the official leaves, make sure to give them materials to take back to their office so they can start making the case for afterschool. Check out our advocacy basics to learn more.
  4. Stay in touch! After your visit, write the official to thank them for attending, and reiterate any points that you think are important for them to remember. You might also think about thanking them publicly, through social media or a blog about their visit. This is a good place to provide photos and stories, so those who aren’t able to physically attend your program can see what it looks like as well. Don’t forget to follow up, so that when you need support, you have a warm relationship to ask for it.

Want to make an impact while you’re in the process of reaching out to officials? Contact Congress, sign the petition, or write your newspaper.

Want to learn more about the impact of the election?  Read about education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, how the election played out at the state level, and the new Congress.  

DEC
22
2016

FUNDING
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New online resource: Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere

By Elizabeth Tish

Are you or your afterschool program concerned about preventing youth violence in your community? Then STRYVE (Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere) might be the right tool for you. STRYVE is an online space with everything practitioners and their team members need to create, edit, and save a customized youth violence prevention plan. Through STRYVE, you can access video examples from other communities working in violence prevention that provide real-life examples for the strategies discussed.

STRYVE is a national initiative led by the Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The initiative provides direction at the national, state, and local levels on how to prevent youth violence with a public health approach, action that is comprehensive and driven by multiple sectors, and the use of prevention strategies that are based on the best available research evidence.

What is youth violence?

STRYVE defines youth violence as “when young people aged 10 to 24 years intentionally use physical force or power in order to threaten or cause physical or psychological harm to others.” Youth violence is a general term that includes many behaviors, such as fighting, bullying, threats with weapons, gang-related violence, and perpetrating homicide.

Why does youth violence matter?

  • Young people are dying prematurely and getting hurt at alarming rates.
  • Youth cannot grow into productive citizens and a developed workforce if they are unable to learn.
  • Youth violence and crime hurt everyone in a community—youth, adult residents, and businesses.
  • Costs of youth violence limit resources to achieve community goals.
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learn more about: Youth Development
DEC
19
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: PIECES After School Program & Burlington Police Department

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 new 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 focused on Lights On Afterschool event that fostered a new connection between the NYPD and a New York City afterschool program.

A police officer out of his uniform, running a flag football club in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Detectives mentoring students in a Crime Scene Investigation club. Female police officers talking with girls about what it’s like to be a woman in law enforcement. These are just a few glimpses into the ongoing activities spurred by the collaboration between PIECES, an afterschool program in rural Iowa, and the Burlington Police Department.

The partnership began in 2013, when PIECES afterschool program director Jackie Swink approached the local police department to support her application for a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant. Around the same time, Major Darren Grimshaw and the Burlington Police Department were having internal conversations about new ways to engage with the community. This confluence of events led to a strong partnership between the two organizations—ever since, officers have been present in the afterschool program, connecting with students and working to build relationships and trust to break down barriers between youth and the police.

Today, PIECES offers programs at two middle schools and an elementary school in rural Burlington, Iowa, serving about 70 students at each site. PIECES offers diverse programming for students, with an emphasis on developing community partnerships—in addition to the police department’s involvement, partners include local hospitals, grocery stores and banks. As Major Grimshaw explained, “It gives all of us an opportunity to sit down with these kids and get to know who they are.”

Major Grimshaw and officers in the department are involved with PIECES in a variety of ways and at varying levels that suit the mutual needs of the officers and the program. The school resource officer, who splits his time between the two middle schools, is a consistent presence with his daily participation. Other officers come and go, either informally stopping by or using shared interests to develop lasting bonds with the students, like the investigators who host a CSI club night to teach students the basics of fingerprinting and crime scene investigation.

DEC
9
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Using Lights On Afterschool to collaborate in new ways

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, the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring, and on new tools for working with school resource officers.

Last month, local police officers joined the Child Center of New York at Basie Beacon IS 72 for a youth-driven Lights On Afterschool celebration in Queens, N.Y. After identifying conflict with police as a major issue in their community, the program’s youth council developed the theme of the evening, “Improvement Starts with ‘I:’” a call for everyone in the community to play a role in improving relations with local police.

“We like to speak to the students as part of the Beacon program and get their ideas on current events,” said Barry Barclift, Program Coordinator of the Basie Beacon program, explaining the value of youth-led programming.

To bring youth and law enforcement officers together, Beacon hosted a basketball game with youth and officers from the 113th Precinct. Students who weren’t interested in playing basketball got involved in the event as members of the dance and step groups that performed at half-time. One student in the program even emceed the game, amusing parent and community spectators.  

Lights On event leads to future partnerships

“The event allowed students to see the officers in a different light. When you see them in uniform, you see them one way, but if you see them out of uniform or participating in a basketball game, you look at them differently,” explained Barclift. After Lights On Afterschool, the students asked to have monthly events with the officers. These events will continue to be planned with input from the youth council.

Barclift said that the 113th Precinct officers are very supportive and excited to continue working with the Beacon program: “They are going to come and assist anywhere that we need them, so that our students see that [the officers] are invested in the community, even though they don’t live here.”

While the youth council will continue to plan events, they will also give the officers an opportunity to offer future partnership ideas to guide their work with the program going forward.

Barclift advises programs who are looking to adopt a similar partnership model to follow a youth-led approach. He wants Beacon’s law enforcement programming to be a collaboration between the youth council and police officers moving forward, an approach that allows the students to have ownership over the interaction and work hard to create a product they are proud of, while allowing officers to connect with students through an activity that excites them.   

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learn more about: Community Partners
NOV
22
2016

POLICY
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ESSA offers opportunities for the arts

By Elizabeth Tish

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) officially replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as the guiding, major federal education law in December of 2015. Since implementing ESSA takes time, ESSA’s changes will start taking effect during the 2017-18 school year. ESSA includes several opportunities for states and local school districts to utilize flexible federal funds to provide students with afterschool and summer learning programs, STEM learning, physical activity, and arts education.   

The Arts Education Partnership, working with the Education Commission of the States, recently released ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts. The new resource can help school and community based afterschool providers and advocates understand how ESSA opportunities can support arts education that contributes to a well-rounded student education.  

Opportunities for the arts in Title I programs

The programs of ESSA's Title I, Part A are designed to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. The evidence-based programs supported by Title I funds assist students who are academically at risk, and these programs help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and those who enjoy more resources. There are many opportunities to include arts education opportunities that help achieve these goals in Title I, Part A:

State plans. Each state must submit an accountability plan to the Department of Education each year, including at least one indicator of school quality or student success beyond student achievement, graduation rates and English proficiency. This means that states could choose to include an arts-related indicator, such as the number of arts course offerings, the percentage of high school students enrolled in arts courses that provide postsecondary credit, or the proportion of certified arts educators to students.

Local Education Agency (LEA) plans. To receive Title I funding, a district must submit a plan to the state education agency that describes how it will identify inequities in educational opportunities and help close the achievement gap for all students, including a description of how the district will provide a well-rounded education. A district can choose to provide a description of its arts education programs and the role of those programs in providing all students a well-rounded education. LEAs can opt to use their Title I Part A funds to support out of school arts programming as well. 

Schoolwide Programs. To be eligible for schoolwide program funds, schools must have at least 40 percent of their students identified as coming from low-income families and create a schoolwide plan which embraces whole school reform. As a part of a well-rounded education, these plans may incorporate the arts as strategies to provide all students the opportunity to achieve.

Targeted assistance schools. Schools that do not meet the poverty threshold for schoolwide programs can use Title I funding to create programs targeted to help academically at-risk students meet the state’s academic standards. The arts, as part of a well-rounded education, can be included as a potential strategy for meeting the objectives set by schools for the Targeted Assistance Schools programs, using the traditional school day or out-of-school time.

Parent and family engagement. Engaging the families of students is an important aspect of ESSA and appears in several areas of Title I. Examples of family engagement using the arts might include: incorporating arts programming in a back-to-school night, schools providing parents with expectations for their children in arts classes, or encouraging parents to work with their schools in developing schoolwide plans that value the arts as a strategy in closing the achievement gap.

To learn more about ESSA and the arts, read the full report and visit this webpage for additional resources on topics such as accountability, assessments, and state plans.  Have more questions about how ESSA affects afterschool? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions on 21st CCLC and ESSA.

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learn more about: ESEA Federal Policy Arts
NOV
17
2016

IN THE FIELD
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New campaign encourages older adults to show up for kids

By Elizabeth Tish

Afterschool programs use many community partners to be successful, including adults in the communities they serve. Adult engagement with youth-serving organizations can offer a great benefit for both the organizations and youth involved.

Today, the Generation to Generation campaign is being launched by Encore.org. The campaign will mobilize 1 million people over the age of 50 to show up for kids, support innovative pilots to bring generations together in ways that make lives better for all, and amplify a positive conversation about intergenerational collaboration in America.

Generation to Generation will tell the stories of those already improving the lives of young people and will mobilize more adults 50+ to do the same through paid or volunteer roles. The campaign will work with a coalition of partner organizations who are already doing youth-focused work and could benefit from an infusion of experienced talent - organizations like Playworks, Jumpstart for Young Children, the Boys & Girls Club of America, MENTOR, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Strive for College. Community-wide efforts to create intergenerational impact zones are planned in Los Angeles, San Jose, Boston, Seattle and elsewhere.

How can you be involved with Generation to Generation?

  1. Take action. Are you an adult over the age of 50 with an interest in using your experience to serve youth? Act now – find out if any local organizations are looking for volunteers.
  2. Get social. Join the Afterschool Alliance and Encore.org in celebrating today’s launch of the Generation to Generation campaign and stay tuned for more opportunities to engage with this mission.
  3. Share your story. Are you an adult over 50 with a compelling story about how you support young people? Submit your story and read others' inspiring stories about the impact they're making. 
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learn more about: Youth Development Community Partners
NOV
3
2016

FUNDING
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This grant could support your program's socially conscious art project

By Elizabeth Tish

The Puffin Foundation West seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and voices often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy. To achieve that goal, the organization offers grants for arts projects that discuss a wide range of social and civil justice issues. 

A grant from Puffin Foundation West could provide valuable support to an afterschool program seeking to inform the local community about an important issue through the arts. Issues that could be addressed include food insecurity, peace, prisons, discrimination, race, culture, sexual orientation, trafficking, global warming, environmental protection, nuclear proliferation, poverty, gender issues, racial profiling, immigration, bullying, violence in schools, homelessness, gun control, animal rights, and more.

2016 Puffin grantees included the following:

  • ArtSparks is a nonprofit that sends professional teams of dance instructors and musicians to work with 900 third grade students in the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton City, Ohio school districts.
  • The Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition’s (MCC) Changing Minds Campaign raises positive visibility of the accomplishments of people who have mental illness. Each year, the MCC holds a celebration at the Massachusetts State House in Boston to recognize companies for taking action to diversify their workforce by hiring people who have mental illness.
  • Columbus Dance Theatre offers full or partial scholarship classes to young men and boys in central Ohio, in an effort to encourage the development of men in dance. Classes consist of ballet, fitness training, modern dance, jazz, partnering, and repertoire.
  • Play Us Forward seeks to overcome the socioeconomic barriers in learning how to play the violin by providing instruction and instruments at no cost to the student or student’s family.

You can find the full list of grantees on the Puffin Foundation West website. You must be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States to be eligible for the award, and must be applying for a project in the United States.