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SEP
26
2016

POLICY
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Presidential candidates talk child care

By Erik Peterson

Images by Gage Skidmore and Lorie Shaull.

With less than 50 days left until the election for president, both candidates have now released proposals to address child care issues for America’s families. The proposals largely focus on child care for children from birth to age 8; however, there are some elements of the plans that would support parents with children in afterschool programs or who seek to access afterschool programs for their children.

Earlier this month, Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, released his child care proposal focusing primarily on tax credits and a mandatory minimum of six weeks of paid maternity leave for employers. The Trump plan proposes to change the tax code for working parents, allowing an income tax deduction for care of up to four children for households earning up to $500,000 and individuals earning up to $250,000. Additionally, the plan offers a rebate of up to $1,200 per year for low-income families. The proposed six weeks of paid maternity leave would be financed through unemployment insurance reforms aimed at reducing fraud and abuse.

With regard to afterschool care, the Trump plan would create new Dependent Care Savings Accounts (DCSAs) so that families can set aside extra money to foster their children's development, as well as offset elder care for their parents or adult dependents. The new accounts would be available to everyone, and allow both tax-deductible contributions and tax-free appreciation year-to-year-unlike current law Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), which are available only if it is offered by an employer and does not allow balances to accumulate. The plan specifies that when established for a child under 18 years of age, funds from a DCSA can be applied to traditional child care, but also afterschool enrichment programs as well as school tuition. The proposal calls for assistance for lower-income parents by ensuring the government match half of the first $1,000 deposited per year.

The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, released her child care plan during the primaries last year. Clinton’s plan includes 12 weeks of paid family leave for both parents and would be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy. Her plan would also cap child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income, and would rely on either tax cuts or block grants to help subsidize costs that exceed the cap. Additionally, the Democratic party platform included language on increased public investment in childcare, support for community schools, increased investment in afterschool, summer learning and mentoring programs, as well as funding for STEM (especially for computer science), including in the afterschool space.

For more information on the election and afterschool, visit our Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit.

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learn more about: Election Federal Policy Working Families
SEP
26
2016

RESEARCH
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Updated interactive dashboard with data on high-poverty communities

By Nikki Yamashiro

Following the release of our latest America After 3PM report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, which looks at the role of afterschool programs in areas where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line, our interactive Web dashboard has been updated to feature data on the state of afterschool in these high poverty areas. On the communities of concentrated poverty dashboard page, you can find out what parents in these high poverty areas are looking for in their child’s afterschool program, how long children participate in afterschool programs, and how satisfied parents are with the activities in their child’s afterschool program. The dashboard also includes data on the barriers parents living in communities of concentrated poverty face enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

The primary goal of this dashboard is to create an easy way to navigate through the large amount of data collected through the America After 3PM survey. In addition to finding afterschool-related information on specific populations, such as communities of concentrated poverty and rural communities, you can see what afterschool looks like in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as learn about key subject areas, including STEM and health and wellness.

This latest update is the fifth in a series of updates we have made to the dashboard to make sure that it is able to provide you with as comprehensive a look at afterschool as possible. Take some time to explore all that the dashboard has to offer!

SEP
23
2016

POLICY
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Update: House of Representatives passes juvenile justice bill

By Erik Peterson

Pictured at the committee meeting yesterday, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced the the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act along with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). Image via @edworkorce on Instagram.

On evening of September 22, the full House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963) by a final vote of 382 to 29. The bill now goes to the Senate, which has yet to pass its version of the juvenile justice reauthorization legislation. For more on the House bill and implications for afterschool programs, see the blog from Sept. 15 below. 

Juvenile justice bill introduced in House, passes Education Committee

On Friday, September 9, members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963). Sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to help state and local leaders better serve young people and juvenile offenders. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved the legislation by voice vote yesterday.

Since 1974, the JJDPA has coordinated federal resources aimed at improving state juvenile justice systems with a focus on education and rehabilitation. While many of these state juvenile justice programs have been able to help children develop the life skills they need to hold themselves accountable and achieve success, not all programs have seen the same results. As the law expired in 2008, this bipartisan legislation includes reforms to provide states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities; promote opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society; help at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by supporting prevention services; prioritize evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency; and improve accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) praised the bipartisan bill in a statement, saying the “bipartisan bill includes positive reforms that will help state and community leaders keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and provide juvenile offenders the second chance they need to turn their lives around.”

The bill will strengthen prevention and rehabilitation support by:

  • Providing states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities.
  • Promoting opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society.
  • Helping at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by supporting prevention services.  
  • Prioritizing evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency.
  • Improving accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

With regard to support for afterschool and mentoring programs, the bill restructures an existing local delinquency-prevention grant program to better assess and respond to unmet community needs. Under the legislation, eligible states will award five-year grants to help local leaders meet those specific needs with a focus on community engagement and coordination among existing efforts and programs. Mentoring and afterschool are included as allowable uses for the prevention funding as evidence-based programs to support young people.

The Senate’s bipartisan version of the juvenile justice legislation, S. 1169, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2015, though attempts to pass the bill on the Senate floor have not yet been successful despite broad bipartisan support. 

SEP
22
2016

FUNDING
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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: The business of corporate fundraising

By Ed Spitzberg

Thanks for tuning in to our blog series, “An insider’s guide to funding afterschool.”  This series has been popular, and I want to make sure we’re answering questions you have. To that end, if you have questions you want answered, send ‘em my way at espitzberg@afterschoolalliance.org. I’ll pick some of them to answer in a blog later this year.

So now that you’ve connected your donors to your mission, leveraged your resources, and done your prospect research, it’s time to break down the types of funders potentially available to you and start looking at how best to convert them to donors.

In general, there are two categories of donors: individual donors (private individuals, whether giving $5 online or $5 million to endow a new building) and institutional donors (government, foundation and corporate donors). Today, we’re going to delve into the latter, specificaly corporate fundraising.

Corporations, like other types of donors, give out of philanthropic desire to improve their community, their region and the world. But unlike other types of donors, corporations also have an additional motivation: serving their business interests. Therefore, as a fundraiser, it’s vital to always think like a business and understand their business interests when talking to corporations.*

While there are many different ways that corporations support afterschool programs (and more ways than I can cover in one blog entry, as corporate social responsibility is a complex and evolving area), we’ll focus on two main ways corporations can become partners.

Corporate marketing vs. corporate foundations

Most corporations have part of their budget set aside for marketing, and that marketing can take the shape of advancing your organization if you are giving the corporation a way to reach a larger or newer (or larger and newer) audience. To tap into this corporate marketing budget, you must not only develop relationships with the marketing staff, but you also must develop a specific idea and have a very good understanding of what you have to offer as a nonprofit:  access to your students, access to your families, access into the community, alignment with your wonderful work and brand… You need to understand all that—with numbers—so that you can make sure they understand it, too. So whether you want to partner with the local dry cleaner or a national grocery store chain, know your offerings, your reach and your impact.

Corporate foundations, on the other hand, while also focusing on the parent company’s business needs, often take a more high-level view of their mission. While often less concerned with eyeballs (though not necessarily unconcerned), they may care more about addressing broader societal challenges that also impact their work and future—e.g. filling their employment pipeline with a skilled workforce, or encouraging healthy eating for a manufacturer of healthy snacks. As with other private foundations, know their guidelines in advance to make sure your organization or your project fits. Also make sure to understand the business needs that are driving their priorities, so that you can communicate how your project strategically and effectively fits their goals.

SEP
21
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Gwinnett County's summer camp for kids gets boost from HEPA standards

By Robert Abare

Written by Matt Freeman

This past summer, more than 3,700 elementary and middle school children in the Atlanta, Georgia area took part in the Summer Camp Healthy Habits Program, a program run by Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR). Over the course of seven weeks, children’s weekly lessons included such topics as healthy habits for the entire family, how to eat healthfully while dining out, the USDA’s MyPlate coloring tools, oral hygiene, germs, dehydration and food allergies. There were healthy doses of hands-on activities, sugar demonstrations revealing the amount of sugar in common drinks and snacks, and physical fitness challenges.

That rich menu of program offerings owes much to GCPR’s 2014 implementation of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in its summer program. The standards transformed a program built around standard summer camp activities into a focused program designed to educate campers and families on how to make low-fat food choices, eat high-fiber diets, drink more water and exercise regularly. “We’ve got two main goals with the program,” said Lindsey Jorstad, GCPR Community Services Outreach Manager. “First, we want to help kids and their families get and stay healthy by reducing obesity rates, improving cardiovascular fitness, and boosting campers’ confidence and self-esteem. Second, we want to teach them how to be healthy for the rest of their lives.”

The program aims to reach beyond the campers as well. Parents receive weekly “Strong4Life” tips by way of a take-home newsletter and they’re encouraged to pack at least one healthy lunch or snack item each day. Campers were also encouraged to bring a reusable water bottle every day, and GCPR made sure they had constant access to drinking water. This summer, GCPR expanded the program to include community partners, who came to camp to conduct a variety of wellness activities. The University of Georgia Extension program led hands-on recipe lessons; the Gwinnett County Public Library visited to get campers excited about summer reading; the Kaiser Educational Theatre of Georgia brought its puppet, Mumford the Dog, to talk about water safety; the American Red Cross educated campers on how to be prepared for emergencies; and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta ran summer long science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities that included Shaving Cream Rain Clouds, Crystal Stars, Magic Milk and Oobleck!

One of the most popular forms of exercise at GCPR’s camp is swimming, so with the goal of decreasing the number of aquatic-related emergencies, the camp offered swimming lessons. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the rate of drowning among African American children is nearly three times the rate for their white peers, and other research points to disparities in swimming ability among African American and Latino children. GCPR gave free swimming lessons to more than 400 children this summer, most of them children of color.

“Our commitment to HEPA is threaded throughout the entire program,” said Tina Fleming, GCPR Director of Community Services, “and it’s made a huge difference in the work we do. We’d always been focused on physical activity, but HEPA added a layer of evidence-based intentionality to what we’re doing that helps guide us. And it also persuaded us to reach out more to parents, hoping to encourage year-round, healthy lifestyles at home—not just during the day at summer camp. It’s been a huge boost to our work.”

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Summer Learning
SEP
21
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 21, 2016

By Luci Manning

Summer Reading Success Spawns After-School Program (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri)

After two summers of hosting a successful reading program, St. Louis County Housing Authority executive director Susan Rollins and social worker Kellyn Holliday decided to offer literacy support to students throughout the year at a new afterschool program. Two housing development activity centers now have active and growing libraries where youth can boost their reading skills and take books home to read. The program has even attracted the attention of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who was so impressed with students’ improved reading scores he drafted a $20,000 federal block grant for the program. “It is the best kind of investment St. Louis County can make,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Students Row from Camden to Philly to Help Kick off Delaware River Cleanup Initiative (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Seven students from the Center for Aquatic Sciences’ afterschool program rowed across the Delaware River in a whaleboat last week to bring attention to a new initiative to clean up the watershed. The initiative, River Days, will consist of 40 events over the next six weeks geared toward river cleanup and general environmental education. The center’s afterschool program offers youth aquatic-based activities like kayaking and teaches them the science behind water. “Watching these young people come in today, certainly it’s about the future,” Philadelphia managing director Michael DiBerardinis told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s about their connection to the river, but it’s also about the healthy future of this region and of our planet.”

Portal Offers Path to Harvard (Boston Globe, Massachusetts)

In 2008, Harvard University started the Ed Portal, an afterschool program pairing Allston-Brighton high schoolers with Harvard student mentors to improve study habits and prepare for their futures. Now, eight years later, the program is sending its first graduate to Harvard. Kevin Yang, who just began his freshman year at the university, is one of hundreds of students to attend the Ed Portal over the years, where he worked with his mentor on school projects and explored possible career options in biomedical engineering or neurobiology. “It was definitely an important support mechanism for me,” Yang told the Boston Globe. “It was a place where I could decompress and figure things out.”

Soccer Helps Young Refugees Take a Shot at a New Life in the U.S. (New York Times, New York)

Refugee students from 40 different countries are finding their confidence and self-worth on the soccer field as part of Soccer Without Borders (SWB). Using soccer and afterschool classes in English, art and science, the program aims to help refugee students acclimate to life in the U.S. “All the families that our kids are coming from have made so many sacrifices to have their kids achieve a better life,” SWB Baltimore chapter director Casey Thomas told the New York Times. “We, in turn, definitely prioritize supporting the academic success of our kids.” 

SEP
20
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: New digital tools for teaching prosocial skills from PBS's Arthur

By Robert Abare

Written by Anne Beatty, Outreach Project Director for the AIM Buddy Project at WGBH

For two decades, millions of children and their families have tuned in to PBS’s children’s series Arthur for funny and authentic portrayals of childhood life. Children see themselves in the characters and identify with them as they learn to navigate the daily challenges of childhood with kindness, empathy, and respect for self and others.

This year, Arthur is celebrating its 20th year on public television! With more than 200 animated stories, WGBH, the Boston-based public broadcaster and producer of this award-winning series, continues to use Arthur and the power of storytelling to carefully guide children through a wide variety of topics—from everyday issues such as losing a tooth to more difficult topics such dealing with bullying behaviors.

Over the years, Arthur has been modeling prosocial behaviors for kids and emphasizing the importance of communication. The Arthur Interactive Media (AIM) Buddy Project is WGBH’s latest initiative to help children build social, emotional, and character skills and attitudes and help educators, caregivers, and children deal with the ongoing problem of bullying behaviors. With a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, WGBH partnered with a research team from Tufts University to develop and test the AIM Buddy Project.

The AIM Buddy Project leverages the universal appeal of the Arthur characters, a cross-age buddy format, and a solid research base in character development and adds a unique component—interactive media—to encourage thoughtful discussions between older and younger pairs around five topics—empathy, honesty, forgiveness, generosity and learning from others. Exposure to and practice with these five topics helps children build the skills and attitudes they need to empathize with others and build positive relationships that result in safer, more caring learning environments.

SEP
19
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: AmeriCorps VISTAs encourage unity through service on the anniversary of 9/11

By Robert Abare

Written by Ligea Alexander, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) for Summer and Afterschool Meals Expansion, a project sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance.

This past weekend, I joined hundreds of other volunteers in the AARP Meal Pack Challenge to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The challenge, which debuted last year, raises awareness of the increasing number of elderly persons who experience poverty and are food insecure. It also honors all the veterans and retired first responders who have dedicated their lives to serve others.

Along with my fellow VISTAs, I joined volunteers from across the nation and Canada, including Girl Scout troops, members of the elderly community, teenagers, college alums, returning volunteers and those in service to America. This dynamic group of people who united to answer the call of elderly hunger reflected a similar variation of those who united in the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11. Housed under a tent just a few steps away from the WW Memorial, we formed packing tables for soy, rice, beans and essential vitamins combined to form low-prep meals. These specially formulated meals would then meet the nutritional needs of recipient seniors.

With music keeping our spirits high and energized, I paused for a minute to appreciate the momentum of the event. Some of us were dancing to the music, others were smiling for the cameras documenting the event, and everyone was focused on meeting the 1.5 million target of packed meals. Although this was my first time participating in the challenge, I easily became acquainted with many second time volunteers from the year before. At my table alone, all age groups were represented, including a 4-year-old boy whose enthusiasm in packing meals into boxes was incredibly heart-moving.

When two day event came to a close, over 1.5 million meals had been packaged. As an AmeriCorps Summer and Afterschool Meals Expansion VISTA, I appreciate having participated in this challenge very deeply as I continue my advocacy to eradicate hunger from all who experience it.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Service Vista