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In the Field Snacks
JUN
23
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool programs change the lives of young refugees

By Guest Blogger

By Susanna Pradhan, an alumna of ourBRIDGE for KIDS in Charlotte, N.C. Susanna is a rising sophomore at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended the Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C. as part of the Youth Track. 

In 1998, I was born to a Bhutanese refugee family in Sanischare Camp in Eastern Nepal. As refugees, we were isolated from the rest of the world and deprived of our basic rights. We were abused at work, making less than a dollar a day.

Growing up in the slums of Nepal, my only hope for a better future was through education. My father was a teacher and my mother the pharmacist, albeit an informal one, in our camp. My parents were respected individuals in our camp and from a young age I wanted to become a respected individual as well. Seeing my mother cure the sick sparked my interest in the medical field. I dreamed of becoming a doctor and carrying on my mother’s healing work.

Everything changed when my family was given the chance to come to the United States. After a lengthy process, we arrived in Charlotte, N.C., in April of 2009. In August, I started my first school in America as a sixth grader at Eastway Middle School. It was only then, when I was faced with the reality of life in the United States, that I realized how horrible our Nepal conditions really were. America was living in a future so advanced it was unimaginable. There are so many details of everyday life that many take for granted; because of my experience in Nepal, I can appreciate the details that many overlook.

JUN
22
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Educators convene town hall against cuts to afterschool & summer

By Ursula Helminski

“Looking back, I don't know where I would have been without afterschool pushing me [and] showing me right from wrong." - Ashley, After-School All-Stars, AFT Tele-Town Hall

On June 12, in a show of united concern and support, the education, afterschool, community school, and health communities came together for a national tele-town hall to discuss the devastation that President Trump’s proposed cuts would wreak on Americans, and what we can do about it. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) organized the call-in event, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, the Coalition for Community Schools, Learning Forward, and the National Association of School Nurses.

Teachers, nurses, afterschool youth, working parents, and community school leaders shared personal stories about the programs and supports that will be lost if the cuts are made.

JUN
20
2017

IN THE FIELD
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$750K awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

By Ursula Helminski

On June 20, the New York Life Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance announced $750,000 in grant awards to 18 middle school out-of-school time (OST) programs serving disadvantaged youth in communities across the nation. The grants mark the first awards made under the Foundation’s new $1.95M “Aim High” initiative, aimed at supporting organizations doing outstanding work to help underserved middle school students reach ninth grade on time.

The selection of grantees was highly competitive, with more than 475 applications submitted. Recipients are all afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs, and include a broad range of approaches and communities served, from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Tacoma, Washington; San Antonio, Texas to San Francisco, California; and Burns, Oregon to Brooklyn, New York.

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learn more about: Awards Special Populations
JUN
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: How one rural town is investing in Alaska's future workforce

By Guest Blogger

By Thomas Azzarella, director of the Alaska Afterschool Network. This blog was originally published on the Alaska Afterschool Blog on June 6.

Photo courtesy of Eric Filradi

Nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s cities, towns, and villages are accessible only by plane or boat, which makes having a strong aviation workforce critical to having a strong state economy. Qualified and experienced employees in the aviation industry are in high demand throughout the state, especially in rural communities.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) in Nenana is addressing this demand by preparing youth living in rural Alaska for this crucial industry.Nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s cities, towns, and villages are accessible only by plane or boat, which makes having a strong aviation workforce critical to having a strong state economy. Qualified and experienced employees in the aviation industry are in high demand throughout the state, especially in rural communities.

Nenana is a small rural town of approximately 400 residents. Nenana City School District is comprised of one K-12 grade school that serves nearly 200 students. Approximately 100 of these students are enrolled in the school’s boarding facility, the Student Living Center, for grades 9-12. These students come from villages and towns all over the state, many of which attend school in Nenana because of the limited educational offerings in their home village. 

Nenana’s Community Learning Centers program expands the school’s educational offerings after school by providing tutoring, career-tech programs, and opportunities for building self-confidence and leadership skills. Among these offerings is the school’s Aviation Mechanics program, which is preparing high school students for high-paying jobs in Alaska’s aviation industry.

JUN
16
2017

IN THE FIELD
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What's afterschool got to do with the military?

By Charlotte Steinecke

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan P. Idle.

Every day, our country is kept safe and secure by the brave members of our armed forces, who have dedicated their lives to serving their nation. But these individuals are more than soldiers – they’re parents, guardians, and members of their communities, and their lives out of uniform are filled with the familiar concerns of civilian life.

One of those concerns is the safety of their children in the hours after school, before parents can be home, and the opportunities afforded to kids to during this time.  The parents in our armed forces need to know that their children are cared for after the school bell rings, and both enlisted and civilian parents find that afterschool programs help them focus on the missions or  jobs before them. What kids are doing after school matters, too. Military leaders and civilians alike agree that afterschool provides important - opportunities for kids to be  engaged  in productive, hands-on educational activities.

JUN
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Postcard project connects program providers with policymakers

By Guest Blogger

By Sara Beanblossom, Director of Communications and Special Events at the Indiana Afterschool Network

As part of our program provider advocacy initiative, the Indiana Afterschool Network is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to share stories about the power of afterschool. Based on conversations we’ve had with program providers and policymakers, we embarked on a project that would most efficiently:

  1. Create an opportunity for providers, parents, and kids to share their voices on why afterschool is essential to them
  2. Create an opportunity for policymakers to easily hear the feedback from their constituents

Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse suggested a postcard campaign with clear and compelling messages. We borrowed imagery from the Afterschool Alliance’s clear and energetic infographics and worked with Burness, a global communications firm, to repurpose and customize the infographics to tell the specific stories of Indiana. The postcards were designed with clearly-marked blank spaces for personalized feedback and the exact name and location of each program provider.

JUN
6
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Evaluating afterschool: Answering questions about quality

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Jocelyn Michelsen, Senior Research Associate at Public Profit, an Oakland, California-based evaluation consultancy focused on helping high-performing organizations do their best, data-driven work with children, youth, and families.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the fifth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the firstsecondthirdand fourth posts of the series.

Raise your hand if this scenario sounds familiar: you keep up with new research on afterschool by reading articles and newsletters, following thought leaders, and attending conferences—but it is still hard to sort through all the information, let alone implement new strategies. Research often seems out of touch with the realities of programs on the ground, and while many anecdotal examples are offered, how-to guidelines are few and far between.

As an evaluator consulting with diverse afterschool programs across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, I frequently hear this frustration from program leaders. There is a real gap between the research and the steps that staff, leadership, and boards can take to build quality in their own programs. Additionally, it can be hard to sift through the research to get to the ‘why’—why implement these recommendations, why invest time and resources, why change?

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data
JUN
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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New Wallace Foundation guide offers strategies and applications for SEL in afterschool

By Dan Gilbert

Recent years have seen a massive expansion of recognition for and research around social and emotional learning, both within the afterschool field and in the education field as a whole. Building on this momentum, the Wallace Foundation’s incredible new guide, “Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out,” serves as a valuable resource containing findings from decades of research and the best strategies to apply to your program.

The guide provides an in-depth view on a broad selection of 25 evidence-based programs, offering insights on how they leverage different program approaches and curricula to improve the lives of youth by providing them with opportunities to develop social and emotional skills.

The guide was designed to help anyone actively selecting, recommending, or evaluating SEL programs for elementary-aged youth. It carries practical insights and a wealth of information to help practitioners around the country – both in-school and out – make informed choices about SEL-focused programming.

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learn more about: Social and Emotional Learning