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.”
By Luci Manning
Some 20 students in Lake Zurich Middle School South’s afterschool woodworking program used their new skills to brighten the holidays for children who have been victims of domestic violence. Over the course of four afternoons, the students sawed, sanded, finished, drilled and assembled 100 toy cars, which were then presented to the nonprofit Caring Women’s Connection as holiday presents for the children. “I know not every family has enough to give $300 minibikes or stuff like that, so it’s nice being able to make stuff for them,” seventh-grader Connor Miltz told the Chicago Daily Herald.
This holiday season, children in need from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo will have new opportunities to get active and explore the outdoors thanks to a gift from the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education’s Buffalo/Erie chapter. The group is donating 40 bicycles to the club, which will then distribute the bikes to students who excel academically through the organization’s “Bridging the Gap” program. “Kids come to our after-school programs on a daily basis, and many of them are really trying to improve in their academics, and that’s goal of our program,” chief program office Robert Lowery told the Cheektowaga Bee. “Our key is that if they make some improvement academically through our program, that we would provide bikes to these kids.”
Hillsdale High School’s afterschool Sewing Club recently finished a special project of machine-sewn weighted rice bags to donate to early childhood special education students at the Bailey Early Childhood Center. When the young children pile the bags on their laps, it keeps them calm, improves their attention spans and makes it easier for them to stay on task. Club members made colorful designs for the bags and double stitched them to keep them strong. “It’s fun doing things for little kids,” sophomore Ella Lewis told the Hillsdale Daily News. “They are so adorable.” The club also donated ice packs to Gier Elementary School to help with students’ daily bumps and bruises.
Although sisters Judy Allbritton and Debbie Abbott struggled with poverty as children, their neighbors, schoolmates and friends always stepped up to help their family by providing toys and groceries during the holiday season. Now, as adults, they’re paying it forward by hosting a Christmas celebration with nonprofit Life Source International for 100 low-income children and families from northwest Arkansas. More than 150 people attended the free Polar Express-themed party last week, which included story readings, gifts and a visit from Santa. The sisters plan to continue the event as an annual celebration. “We want this to be a magical event that they remember when they’re older,” Abbott told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
By Luci Manning
The Thousand Oaks police department and other Conejo Valley agencies are giving 124 youngsters an alternative to joining a gang and getting into trouble after school through Project Safe Passage. The afterschool program operates near students’ homes and provides them with a safe place to work on their homework and develop relationships with peers and positive role models. Each month, the program takes students on educational field trips to museums, universities and more. “We are bringing these services directly to the children,” Thousand Oaks Chief of Police Tim Hagel told the Ventura County Star. “They don’t have to go anywhere. We offer them a safe place to stay in multi-family areas until parents arrive home.”
Six female students are learning to meld metal and develop valuable technical skills through a new afterschool program at Duluth Denfeld High School. The program will make use of the school’s new fabrication lab, which is stocked with tools and equipment for engineering and graphic design classes. “Women are not represented well in the tech field of fabrication, welding and computer-aided design,” tech tutor and afterschool program head Roxane Simenson told the Duluth News-Tribune. She hopes her class can encourage girls to try something new and gain valuable engineering experience along the way.
A group of middle school students have spent the past ten weeks applying their creativity, math and science skills to a very important task: building toys for the Shedd Aquarium’s giant Pacific octopus. The Club Shedd afterschool program brings students to the aquarium each week to learn about existing octopus enrichment tools, design their own models and eventually construct them on a 3D printer. The best ideas may be added to the octopus’ existing set of toys. The program allows students to apply their science lessons to a hands-on project and gain critical skills in the process. “What it’s given them is an open place to throw out creative ideas,” fifth-grade math and science teacher Sara Jacobson told the Chicago Tribune.
Three Massachusetts organizations have been awarded federal funds to try to stem the rise of homegrown extremism by supporting youth in creative ways, as part of an initiative to honor the memory of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. According to the Associated Press, United Somali Youth received $105,000 to develop afterschool, counseling and college assistance programs for Somali, African and Middle Eastern youths that will help them build critical skills for the workforce; Empower Peace was awarded $42,000 to teach high schoolers how to develop social media campaigns promoting tolerance; and the Somali Development Center was given $63,000 to better integrate Somali immigrants and refugees into the community.
By Luci Manning
Establishing a Culture of Peace (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)
Students in the Martin Luther King Center afterschool program now have a safe space to relax, take a few deep breaths and escape the drama of their daily lives. The community center decided to create the new Peace Room to give students a place to wind down, read and meditate after they finish their homework. The room is filled with peace-themed art, books and beanbag chairs. “We’ve dedicated this as the no-drama zone,” center director Allison Luthe told the Indianapolis Star. In addition to the afterschool program, the center also tries to engage parents with services like job training, co-working space and financial coaching.
One Zesty Food Fight (St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, Michigan)
Some 130 students from five area high schools stewed beans, chopped vegetables and fried cornbread at the eighth annual Chili Cook-Off at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College on Friday. The competition gave students a chance to meet their peers in other culinary programs and show off the skills they have been learning in their cooking classes. Being in a college setting also may have inspired some of the students to start thinking about their future. “It can get them excited about college,” Chris Woodruff, chair of the college’s Hospitality and Management Faculty and program, told the Herald-Palladium. “Maybe they haven’t even thought about it yet. It’s like, ‘This is fun. I can do this. I may to do this for a career.’”
From Syrian Refugee to U.S. Doctor, He Helps Shape Teens’ Dreams (CNN)
When Dr. Heval Mohammad Kelli arrived in the U.S. as a Syrian refugee at age 17, he worked as a dishwasher on nights and weekends to help support his family, hoping to one day save enough money to go to medical school. Now, he trains as a cardiology fellow at Emory University, one block away from that restaurant, and mentors high school refugees who want to follow in his footsteps. “I feel the obligation as a physician that my service goes beyond patient care: I need to invest in the community,” Kelli told CNN. The Young Physicians Initiative is an afterschool program that partners Emory University medical students with young refugees from around the world to inspire them to pursue a career in medicine, no matter the barriers.
After-School Programs Are Vital for Austin’s Children (Austin-American Statesman, Texas)
Karen LaShelle, executive director of Creative Action, lays out the benefits of afterschool programs in an Austin-American Statesman op-ed: "One big reason so many children aren’t some place safe and constructively engaged is that we don’t have enough after-school programs across the state...The Del Valle school district, located just east of Austin, has risen to the challenge. All of its 12 schools provide after-school programs for youths in K-12th grade...They can get help with homework; act in a play; dance in a ballet folklorico group; learn about various science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics; play soccer of chess; plant and harvest a garden and more. And they do all those things under the watchful eyes of caring adults...We can only hope that leaders in other communities will find a way to follow Del Valle's example."
By Luci Manning
A partnership between Penn State University and the State College Area School District recently gave university students an opportunity to teach “nutrition at a community level” to afterschool students the Centre Daily Times reports. Some 55 Penn State students put together a Health and Nutrition Fair with a variety of interactive booths to teach kindergarten to fifth-graders from Ferguson Township Elementary School about what’s in their food and where it comes from. The fair also allowed college students to practice teaching in a real-world setting.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe’s Homework Diner is working to nourish both the minds and bodies of vulnerable children throughout the south-side of the city. Some 80 students attend the afterschool program, where they receive a free meal and help from volunteer tutors to get their homework done. The program also invites family members to enjoy dinner with their children. “This way we make sure the kids are getting fed and learning,” Club director Roman Abeyta told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “We really don’t know the family situation, but this really can take a burden off of parents when it comes to both feeding their children and making sure they get their homework done.”
Sixteen-year-old Zaina Siyed is determined to change the way Muslims are perceived in the United States by coaching an all-female, all-Muslim team of teens to victory in robotics competitions. According to the Los Angeles Times, the FemSTEM girls recently won the award for best overall performance at a First Lego League robotics competition, where young people between the ages of nine and 14 build and program robots to perform a variety of different functions. The competitions emphasize teamwork and problem-solving wrapped around math and science concepts. “As a woman in STEM… [I’m] proud, hopeful for the next generation,” judge Cindy Muñoz said as she presented the team with its award. “I’m just so excited to see women, minorities, Muslims just really challenge those views some people have.”
Port Clinton students can enjoy tasty snacks and a cozy atmosphere at a free afterschool program at Bistro 163. The philanthropic-minded restaurant, which encourages patrons to pay more than the menu price to cover the cost of food for someone less fortunate, gives students a space to work on homework with volunteer tutors, play tabletop games, do crafts and eat a substantial snack every Wednesday after school. “It’s just something I felt like we should do,” owner and chef Stacy Maple told the Port Clinton News Herald.
By Luci Manning
Twice a week, elementary schoolers at East Palo Alto Charter School receive special science lessons from Stanford University students as part of the Science Bus afterschool program. The lesson plan is entirely devised by the Stanford students and includes a mix of lectures, field trips, events and fun experiments like mixing Coke and Mentos to explore chemical reactions. Mentorship is another important aspect of the Science Bus, according to third-year doctoral student Josh Eggold, who heads the program. “In contrast to a one-time event, we see the same students time and time again....These one-on-one relationships are a great foundation for us to have a meaningful impact in the students’ lives,” he told the Stanford Daily.
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has pledged to donate $500 for each of his blocked shots this season to the RENS, a nonprofit basketball program, according to the Wall Street Journal. The “KrisStops” campaign will benefit the group’s Ben Jobe Educational and Scholarship Fund, which provides third- through eighth-grade students with tutoring, SAT prep and tuition money.
The successful Figure Skating in Harlem program is making its way to cities across the country, starting with Detroit. Figure Skating in Detroit’s (FSD) inaugural year will serve 300 Detroit girls ages 6 to 15 through community workshops, summer camps, afterschool programs and more. “This is a youth development opportunity for Detroit’s young women, wrapped around the fun, artistry and discipline of figure skating,” FSD leader Geneva Williams told the Associated Press. The program empowers young girls with a combination of skating instruction, STEM-focused academics, entrepreneurship, leadership and social skills, critical thinking and healthy living resources.
The Chambersburg Area School District is hoping to improve its students’ academics by focusing on the ‘whole child.’ District schools and local nonprofits, have built a network of support services meant to meet students’ basic needs and put them on a path to success. In addition to afterschool programs, the new initiative includes installing a washer and dryer to help homeless students, a food pantry that students can access on weekends or other days when the school is closed, a pediatrics clinic, English-language classes, and more. “Not all our students are “needy” in the sense of being poor or disadvantaged, but all have special needs,” director of support services Tamera Stouffer told the Public Opinion. “We want to meet all those needs and be the public school of choice.”