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In the Field Snacks
MAY
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool set me on the path to success

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Ashley Castillo, an alumna of After-School All-Stars in Orlando, Fla. Ashley shared her story on Capitol Hill on April 21, at a panel of expert speakers sharing their stories and experiences in defense of 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding.

As one of the thousands of students my afterschool program has helped, I would like to share a little bit about myself and tell you how much this program has meant to me and my family.

Like thousands of kids across the nation, growing up during these times has been very hard. For as long as I can remember, my family always struggled to get by. Both of my parents are deaf, and as of recently, my mother has had problems with her vision. It has always been difficult for them to hold steady jobs and provide for me, my brother, and my sister. We had to move constantly and often lived in places that were so bad that no one else should ever have to live there. These struggles caused many fights and issues between my parents and they eventually got a divorce.

I don’t think people realize how these kinds of problems affecting adults can turn around and affect kids. In my case, I became very shy and did not talk a lot in elementary school. I kept a lot of my feelings inside and did not participate in many activities. I did not feel safe in my neighborhood and my parents could never afford to put me in an afterschool or summer program.

MAY
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Make each day healthier for all children with Voices for Healthy Kids

By Charlotte Steinecke

As the only online national network of people focusing on helping kids grow up at a healthy weight, the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center (formerly PreventObesity.com) is the place where leaders and organizations connect with hundreds of thousands of health and wellness supporters in advocacy efforts and policy implementation.

Childhood obesity remains a serious issue confronting kids across the nation, and the out-of-school time programs in which they participate have a lot of opportunities to help improve their health. From the food choices families make and food preparation to food affordability and the physical activity kids experience each day, there’s a lot to do to build a network of people that can make change happen.

Check out the list of active campaigns, explore the advocate toolbox, and sign up to receive updates on the latest news about helping kids in your community live, play, and learn healthier. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Nutrition
MAY
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Join the #GirlsAre campaign to celebrate girls in sports!

By Charlotte Steinecke

  

There’s a health and wellness crisis facing girls in the United States, and it’s playing out—or not playing out—in physical education classes and field days across the country. Compared to their male peers, girls are far less likely to achieve the recommended amounts of physical activity, and girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by the time they reach age 14.

To combat this worrying trend, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation are teaming up for their second year of the #GirlsAre campaign. You can join the #GirlsAre social media movement to showcase the strength of girls, sign a pledge to celebrate girls’ athleticism, and write an empowering note to your younger, athletic self. 

In a statement of support for the #GirlsAre campain, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and board member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Chelsea Clinton said, “Data shows that across the United States, less than 50 percent of middle school girls get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Why does this matter? This gap in physical activity results in fewer opportunities for girls to develop critical teamwork, confidence, and leadership skills that will help them thrive throughout their lives – as well as to be physically healthy.”

Bringing together more than 40 media partners, nonprofit organizations, and influential voices, the #GirlsAre campaign will run from May 15 to June 4, coinciding with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May. Join the movement on Facebook and Twitter!

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
MAY
11
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Apply to be a National Afterschool Matters Fellow

By Leah Silverberg

If you’re a committed mid-career out-of-school time professional who’s looking for your next professional development opportunity, the National Afterschool Matters (NASM) Fellowship could be right for you.

The NASM Fellowship is a two-year professional and leadership development training program. Through a partnership with the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, The National Writing Project, and funding from the Robert Bowne Foundation, the Fellowship offers a space where you can learn to “reflect on, study, improve, and assess your work” to generate an even greater impact.

Fellows will participate in hands-on inquiry-based research, learning, and writing under the guidance of experienced mentors; receive leadership development training; participate in a study of community of out-of-school-time professionals; and participate in two retreats at Wellesley College, let by NIOST and NWP. Participants receive a participation stipend for the two-year fellowship and travel stipends to attend the retreats.

Fellowship requirements

Applicants are required to:

  • Have access to reliable high-speed internet, technology equipment, and a Google email account
  • Attend a retreat from September 24 to 26, 2017 in Wellesley, Mass., and another in the fall of 2018 (dates TBD)
  • Participate in monthly virtual meetings
  • Produce a final project that may include a manuscript for journal publication, conference presentation, blog, recorded webinar, etc.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher

How to apply

Submit a complete application by May 31, 2017, including the online application, the online reference form, and a resume emailed to asm_nationalfellowship@wellesley.edu with your name in the subject line and in the file name.

MAY
9
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Join the Popsicle Project this weekend and celebrate afterschool!

By Charlotte Steinecke

  

Show your community what your garden grows by participating in the Popsicle Project from May 12 to 14. Created by Greenville ISD ACE as a springtime celebration of afterschool, the project encourages participants to plant paper flowers attached to popsicle sticks in an outdoor location to illustrate how many children are impacted by their afterschool programs.

Interested? All you need is a plot of earth, a few craft supplies, and a social media presence! Here’s how to join:

  1. Gather enough supplies for every child in your program: “OST Grows People” front and back flower templates, large popsicle or craft sticks, school bus yellow cardstock, and packing tape.
  2. Print your flowers and the description of the Popsicle Project double-sided on your yellow cardstock.
  3. Cut out the flowers and adhere them to the popsicle sticks. 
  4. Plant the popsicle sticks, one per child, in a spot where students, parents, and your community can view them. Be sure to get permission from the landowner before your plant your sticks!
  5. Take pictures and share them on your social media! Be sure to use the hashtags #PopsicleProjectOST and #AfterschoolWorks.
  6. Remove the flowers by May 15.

This Mother’s Day, grow some support for afterschool and let your community see how many students benefit from afterschool programs!

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Arts
MAY
8
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Fear and deportation

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Julie McClure, founder and program director of CalSERVES. This blog was originally published on BOOST Cafe on March 15. For more information about addressing immigration issues, check out our “How Afterschool Programs can Support their Immigrant Students, Families, and Community” webinar and fill our feedback survey to help us make sure that we are providing resources that are topical and relevant to the field. This webinar is part of an on-going series focused on ways in which afterschool can create constructive climates in out-of-school time. Check back for the next webinar in the series that will address understanding and responding to identity-based bullying.‚Äč

What can afterschool programs do to support children who are experiencing fears related to the impacts of deportation? Many of our programs work with children and families who have deep fears about the changing immigration climate and increased deportations. Knowing what to do to support students and families on these issues can be hard for staff. They want to help but do not have expertise in this area. They also want to know what is okay to say and do in their role.

Here are some actions that can be taken in partnership with our school districts to address these new immigration issues. In developing this list, I relied heavily on the resources of Teaching Tolerance.

  1. Issue a program-wide statement in multiple languages indicating that the program is a safe and welcoming environment for all students.
  2. Focus on building inclusive environments to reinforce the feeling of safety and security. This could range from establishing classroom ground rules to anti-bullying programs to creating time each day for students to express themselves in a safe environment.
  3. Support staff in how to speak to students. Staff should let students know that they have a right to a safe educational environment. Staff can also let students know that it is okay to be confused or scared and that there are resources available to support them. It is, however, also important staff not make promises that cannot be kept in this uncertain environment.
  4. Create a bilingual list of community organizations who provide resources, counseling, and support on immigration issues. This list can then serve as a referral list for when issues arise.
  5. Provide materials and community resources that support families in knowing their rights. Many communities also have organizations that are holding workshops on these issues that you can share with your families. Here are some additional sources of information on immigration rights as they pertain to schools:
  6. Identify a bilingual staff member to be a resource for families around these issues.
  7. Work with the school to provide counseling and support to students who have had a family member deported.
  8. Provide support for staff and time for them to talk about these complex issues.

For everyone working in expanded learning programs, you are providing a safe and vital environment to all children and families. You help students feel safe, supported, and heard, which is so important now.

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learn more about: Guest Blog
MAY
2
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Advice for advocates of afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

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.

As a follow up to my January 12 guest blog on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s afterschool proposal, I’m happy to report that the New York State budget, which was passed on April 9, includes $35 million in new funding to expand afterschool programming to 22,000 students across the state beginning in September 2017.

At a time when uncertainty surrounds the future of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, New York has begun to see the importance of directly investing in high-quality afterschool programs. The $35 million investment represents the largest annual increase the state of New York has ever made in afterschool programs, and with the funding targeted at cities and school districts in high-need areas, it’s a welcome acknowledgement of the role afterschool programs can play in addressing the needs of low-income families.

The end result of this year’s state budget may have been an overwhelming success for afterschool, but New York’s three month “budget session” was anything but easy for advocates. This was not the first time a large proposal to fund afterschool programs was put on the table by the governor, and advocates knew there would be a long battle ahead to secure this funding in the final budget.

Below are a few ways we kept the pressure on the governor and legislature to ensure this proposal became a reality:

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learn more about: Advocacy Guest Blog State Policy
APR
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Keys to program success from afterschool professionals

By Charlotte Steinecke

This Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we’re celebrating you: the educators who dedicate your careers to teaching and supporting youth during the out-of-school hours. To highlight the expertise of a few leading professionals in our field, and foster widespread sharing of best practices, we asked four afterschool leaders from across the country to share their keys to success and sustainability.

Have your own pro-tip to share? We want to hear it!

Find ways to serve many needs at once.

“I teach sophisticated language, because it’s a key part of the success we’re having and a reason the engagement we have is so broad-based: people want to be empowered by words. You have to pull kids up—our program is based on research that low-income children have a 30-million-word deficit in oral communication by the time they’re four years old. And when we combine that with gardening, we’re connecting to so many family histories and cultural heritages, and at the same time we’re teaching biology, botany, chemistry, vocabulary, and community service.

“By connecting our work that way, by empowering kids with this rich oral vocabulary, we’re increasing literacy significantly. For a school like mine, which is underachieving, that gets you some buy-in!

“Parents say ‘Oh, wow! They’re doing better in reading math! I’m going to encourage my kids to go to your summer program and afterschool program.’ But if we were to distance ourselves completely from the academics, they would say, ‘We need you to help meet the school needs, not just babysit the kids after school!’ So we need to give them the academic boost they need.

“Be independent of the curriculum, but honor the need for the literacy and math, and tie it into what the kids love. Give kids choice about how they use their time, in physical activity or gardening or service as teachers to younger kids.”  

– MaryAnn Bash, director of Each One Tech One: No More Gap in Colorado

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Community Partners