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In the Field Snacks
FEB
23
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before"

By Guest Blogger

By Maya Irvine. 

Maya is a freshman at Camdenton High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year. Maya has attended Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics program for the past six years. Her blog post highlights the science, mathematics, technology, and engineering (STEM) learning opportunities available through the FIRST program and the experiences she's had as a member of the team.

With more than 460,000 students involved, more than $50 million in scholarship opportunities, and more than 120,000 volunteers worldwide, FIRST Robotics has a global impact on every individual involved.

Newcomers often ask, “Is FIRST Robotics like Battlebots?”

Short answer: nope! The FIRST program is exceedingly more than that. FIRST Robotics is a non-profit organization, with a mission to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders.” Most FIRST Robotics teams take place in an afterschool setting — along with the 250+ students involved in the LASER Robotics program.

I’ve been involved in the FIRST program for six years, from elementary to high school. It’s my first year on the high school team, and I am already involved in writing the Engineering Notebook (which documents the evolution of our team’s robot through daily entries), working with Safety (a group that protects and enforces the FIRST safety morals), and designing graphics.

FIRST robotics has evolved my interests. Before joining the program, my only outlook for the future was simple: I had no idea what I wanted to do. When FIRST came into my life, I realized that there are so many careers and opportunities for students just like me. What I enjoy most about FIRST is how diverse it is. When our team goes to compete, I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before, including teams from all over the world!

Participation in FIRST programs is shown to inspire young people to become leaders and innovators and pursue careers in STEM related fields. Students involved show greater interests in STEM, STEM careers, and 21st century skills. With science- and math-related careers reaching an all-time high demand, the need for people to fill these spots has hit its highest appeal rates.

Through the FIRST program, kids of all ages have the chance to be someone big. The only question is, what will the world look like with these new engineers and inventors unleashed?

FEB
16
2018

IN THE FIELD
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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

By Charlotte Steinecke

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same thing?’”

“Swaliga,” meaning “passion,” comes from the island of St. Martin. It’s the watchword for an innovative afterschool program in Washington, D.C., that connects youth with innovative education opportunities by uniting a love of music and arts with science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning.

Since opening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in 2012, Swaliga Foundation has served more than 6,000 youth worldwide. In the next five years, they’re looking to connect with 1 million young people worldwide – a goal Brown and his team are passionate about.

“Our mission is to become the world’s premiere source for innovative youth education.”

How do you innovate youth education in the age of the iPhone? Swaliga Foundation aims to change the way young people use technology by making technology producers out of technology consumers. They teach the technological skills necessary to effect that transformation by tying them to the interests students already have—their passions for sound-mixing, composing music, shooting videos, and beyond.

FEB
15
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Former Ed Sec John B. King highlights educator superpower: We tell children they belong

By Jillian Luchner

Last week I attended a Title I Conference in Philadelphia. The “Title I” name may be as generic as they come, but it is one of the most important Titles in education policy.

The purpose of Title I, which was recently reauthorized in 2015 in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high quality education and to close educational achievement gaps.” To meet this goal the law includes federal funding that gets distributed to support lower income students and schools. Title I funding can be and is used effectively in schools and districts for quality afterschool programs as well as other efforts.

"The best antidote to oppression is education.”

Dr. John B. King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, and currently the president of The Education Trust served as the keynote on the conference’s first night. King remarked that education in the United States is in fact making progress. For example, scores on a nationwide standardized test (NAEP) continue to trend upward and graduation rates are increasing hitting a nation-wide high of 84% last year. However, he cautioned, we must be mindful of the gaps – such as those in which our higher income students achieve academically, graduate high school and complete college at much greater rates than our lower income students.

The same gaps are seen between white students and students of color, marking an especially salient fact in light of February being Black History Month. These academic gaps, Dr. King noted, are really a function of opportunity gaps.

King takes a dual approach to problem solving when confronting the opportunity gap. The first is to provide equitable resources in schools; for example, helping to incentivize the strongest teachers where they are most needed, investing in initiatives that have been shown to work to close gaps such as early education and Pre-K, and placing school counselors and advanced academic options in schools where they are limited. While not mentioned by King directly, access to high quality afterschool programs are another essential piece of this puzzle.

FEB
13
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Our hearts are broken

By Charlotte Steinecke

The Trump administration has zeroed out the budget for afterschool for the second year in the row. We're heartbroken by the news, but the budget battle isn't over yet and we're turning heartbreak into action.

This Valentine's Day, use the resources on the We Love Afterschool landing page to share a message with your representatives. In addition to the heartbreak .gif above, we have a .gif you can use to thank supportive representatives (find their handles here), a printable graphic for your students to illustrate, and a collection of plug-and-play sample social media you can adapt to your audience or use as-is!

We'll be watching the tag #IHeartAfterschool tomorrow, along with #AfterschoolWorks. And you can strike while the iron is hot—share your love of afterschool with your representatives in Congress and urge them to support funding for afterschool programs. 

share this link: http://bit.ly/2EpN9A3
learn more about: Events
FEB
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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STEM funding opp: Enter the 2018 Possibility Grants sweepstakes

By Charlotte Steinecke

Make your lab a little more fab: enter the Siemens 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes! K-12 schools are eligible to enroll in the sweepstakes and vote daily for their school, from now until the deadline on April 27. Check out the possibilities with the #IDreamofSTEM hashtag.

Grant Name: 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes

Description: $10,000 to spend on STEM technology and resources.

Eligibility requirements: All K-12 schools are eligible to apply. Educators can enter daily. The winner will be chosen through random drawing.

Deadline: 5 p.m. ET on April 27, 2018.

How to apply: You can enter daily for a chance to win – simply enter your school information here, and you’ll be able to vote for your school as often as you’d like! Previous winners are not eligible to enter. See the official rules here.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2Eblq6g
learn more about: Funding Opportunity STEM
FEB
5
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Free eBook available: The Afterschool Guide to Building English Language Leaners' Literacy

By Guest Blogger

By Heidi Ham, vice president of programs and strategy at National AfterSchool Association.

For the more than 4 million English language learner (ELL) students who attend public schools nationwide, it’s more critical than ever to literacy skill development support both in and out of school.

That’s why the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), in collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, created “The Afterschool Guide to Building English Language Leaners’ Literacy,” a free eBook filled with valuable information and field-sourced tools and strategies specifically designed for the afterschool environment. Click here to join NAA (for free) and then visit the "Program Resources" tab on the right column.

Afterschool and informal learning programs are ideal opportunities for ELL youth to develop their literacy skills in fun, supportive environments. With strategies ranging from student-run newspapers to initiatives that connect kids with their communities and bring families into the program, the range of education possibilities is limitless!

NAA is proud to offer the Guide to its members. For membership information and to download the eBook visit naaweb.org/membership.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2s9KM2P
learn more about: Literacy Partnerships
FEB
2
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"Afterschool is essential for millions of students nationwide each year"

By Guest Blogger

By Ruben Balderas.

Ruben is a senior at Walla Walla High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year.  Ruben has attended 21st Century Community Learning Center funded programs as a student participant for the past seven years, and recently secured a job as a Walla Walla Public School’s afterschool tutor.  Throughout his afterschool journey, Ruben has acquired a number of real-world skills, and has made many friends and professional contacts along the way.

Afterschool is very important to me for many different reasons. It has taught me many different things, including computer programs, videography and cinematography skills, communicating with other people. My afterschool program has also helped me develop different strategies around critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, planning, brainstorming, time and stress management, and leadership. All of these skills learned in afterschool can also be used in a real-world work environment; for me, that would be something in the field of animation or concept art. In both of these fields, it is essential to be able to work and communicate within a team structure in order to produce the best content for the job.

I also use my afterschool skills to help me communicate with my family and friends. Afterschool has taught me to get out of my comfort zone and make new friends; in my program, I have made two really good friends that I am very grateful for meeting and having them be a part of my life. More than just skills related to direct means of communication, I appreciate afterschool for helping me explore other platforms to deliver a message.

Over the past few months, I have created content that not a lot of students can say they’ve done. During my first few months of my term as an ambassador, I helped make a Virtual Reality (VR) environment for our Lights On Afterschool event. In this VR space, you can move around and see all the different afterschool programs we offer from anywhere in the world. Check out the space here. Additionally, I made an introduction video about myself and what my message will be throughout my ambassador term.

Seizing on the excitement and messaging opportunities available to a Youth Afterschool Ambassador, I recently took a trip to Olympia, Wash., our state capital. While I was only there for a short time, the impact was large. I was fortunate enough to share my various afterschool experiences with the Washington State House Committee on Education. I shared with them that Afterschool has taught me essential new skills and changed me positively as a person. The experience was incredible — you can watch my testimony at 13:20-15:37 and 22:53-29:00 on this recording.

During the remainder of my Youth Afterschool Ambassador term, I am going to create a video that features a series of interviews from participants and parents highlighting how afterschool has benefited them, their families, and their community. Just like it has been for me, afterschool is essential for millions of students nationwide each year. I am honored and excited to continue to spread that important message to all who will listen.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2s2rWdY
learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Older Youth
FEB
1
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Encourage your high school girls to code this summer!

By Leah Silverberg

Girls Who Code has opened their applications for their 2018 Summer Immersion Program. Over the course of seven weeks, rising 11th and 12th grade students explore and create coding through art, storytelling, robotics, websites, and apps. Students will also have the opportunity to connect with female engineers and entrepreneurs, go on field trips, and participate in workshops to explore the field of computer science. This FREE immersive experience requires no previous coding experience. Additional stipends are also available to cover living expenses and transportation to support students who qualify.

When are applications due?

Students applying for the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program have the option to apply by February 16 for Round One submissions, or March 16 to be considered in Round Two.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2s1QhR4
learn more about: Summer Learning Computer Science Girls