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In the Field Snacks
JUL
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Evaluating afterschool: Building an evaluation advisory board

By Guest Blogger

By Jason Spector, Senior Research & Evaluation Manager at After-School All-Stars

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

When I joined After-School All-Stars (ASAS) in 2014, I represented the sole member of our research and evaluation department. It was a great opportunity to craft a vision, and one that I greeted with excitement, but there was definitely anxiety as well. I was fresh out of grad school—learning how to operate in a national organization while also feeling siloed. To help break down the silos, our leadership encouraged me to develop a board of strategic advisors.

During the last few years, the National Evaluation Advisory Board has played a critical role in helping us grow our department, craft a vision for our work, develop a language and strategy around our program quality assessment, deepen our evidence base, and advance the intentionality of our program model. It’s a resource I highly recommend for organizations who are looking to become more strategic in their work.

If you decide to form your own evaluation advisory board, here are four key ideas to keep in mind:

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data Guest Blog
JUL
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Highlights from Policy Studies Associates’ afterschool report

By Elizabeth Tish

Policy Studies Associates (PSA) conducts research in education and youth development. This spring, PSA published a short report on afterschool program quality and effectiveness, reviewing more than 25 years of afterschool program evaluations they have completed.

The report further substantiates the benefits of afterschool for three specific stakeholders: students, families, and schools. The full details are available in the report, which covers the following topics in depth:

Afterschool programs work for students

  1. Increase school attendance and ease transitions into high school
  2. Offer students project-based learning opportunities
  3. Improve state language and math assessment scores while developing teamwork skills and personal confidence

Afterschool programs work for families

  1. Provide safe spaces for enriching activities and academic support
  2. Make it easier for parents to keep their job
  3. Provide an option for parents to miss less work

Afterschool programs work for schools

  1. Enhance the effectiveness of the school and reinforce school-day curriculum
  2. Create a college-going and career-inspiring culture in the school
  3. Foster a welcoming school environment

Want to find out which evaluations these statements came from? Visit the PSA brief, Afterschool Program Quality and Effectiveness: 25 Years of Results!!

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data
JUN
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Join us for a Day of Action to support summer learning

By Charlotte Steinecke

Summer isn’t a vacation for everyone. When schools close during the summer months, more than 25 million low-income students in America lose access to affordable food, safe places to spend the day, and opportunities to engage in learning and maintain the skills they’ve developed during the school year. And the effects don’t end when school is back in session: the culumative impact of academic skills lost each summer can leave low-income fifth graders up to three years behind their peers.

Summer should be for water slides, not achievement slides.

On June 28, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is bringing support for summer learning opportunities straight to Capitol Hill—and your help will be key! NSLA has set a few goals that supporters at home can help them meet:

  • Raise awareness among Congressional Members and staff of summer learning loss as well as the risks for young people related to health and safety during the summer
  • Share the impact of effective programs in their state or district, using both data and stories
  • Ask for support of key federal programs that support summer activities at the local level
  • Build a relationship with your elected officials and their staff

Mark your calendar for June 28 and be ready to send an email urging Congress to support funding for the programs that help students thrive year-round.

After the email, head over to NSLA’s website to learn more about Summer Learning Day (July 13). You can register your event and find resources for families and students, communities, and elected officials, along with factsheets and a calendar of events near you.

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.

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.