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JAN
23

STEM
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Afterschool STEM in the Senate ESEA working draft

By Sophie Papavizas

Last week, the Afterschool Alliance published a blog post highlighting the elimination of funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization working draft.  Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (know as the STEM fields) are also missing from the bill.  The last reauthorization, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), included a single competitive grant program dedicated exclusively to STEM at the Department of Education.   The program, named the Math and Science Partnership Program (Title II. B), was a major source of funding for professional development of math and science teachers in some states but is not included in Chairman Alexander’s current working draft.

In a letter to Senate and House Committee leadership, James Brown of the STEM Education Coalition expressed two priorities for STEM in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.  The first is to continue to include science in the testing and accountability framework.  The second is to include a dedicated Federal funding stream for STEM-related activities.  With the accountability system’s focus on reading and math, many schools are spending less time on science and diverting funding to preparation for high-stakes tests.  Computer science and engineering are completely absent from many schools.

Afterschool programs have long stepped up to the plate to fill this gap, offering hands-on, quality learning experiences for students in a variety of STEM subjects.  The Afterschool Alliance has highlighted some of these programs in our STEM Storybook.  We need more investments in STEM education and in afterschool to ensure that our students are prepared for STEM careers.  Let your representatives know—check out our advocacy toolkit and the Afterschool Alliance ESEA reauthorization action alert.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Science
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JAN
20

CHALLENGE
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Join us in Washington, DC for the 2015 Afterschool for All Challenge!

By Rachel Clark

This March, we’re teaming up with the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention and afterschool professionals from around the country to meet face to face with Members of Congress and urge them to support the millions of kids and families who rely on afterschool programs. In 2014, participants from 46 states met with their US Senators and Representatives—this year, bring your powerful story to our nation’s capital to share with 2,000 afterschool professionals and with our federal elected officials.

This spring will be one of the most critical times on Capitol Hill for friends and advocates of afterschool programs. Congress will likely be rewriting federal education, child nutrition, juvenile justice and STEM legislation this year, making decisions that will impact access to quality afterschool, before school, and summer learning programs for millions of children. Your elected officials need to hear your voice and story to fully understand the value that these programs have on the lives of young people.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool for All Events and Briefings
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JAN
14

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 14, 2015

By Luci Manning

Static Cling! Kids Try to Make Cellphone Charging T-Shirts (The Brooklyn Paper, New York)

Pow! Caped Crusaders in Technology, a tech-centric afterschool program in Flatbush, is teaching sixth and seventh graders how to make wearable tech gadgets. For their first project, students created a shirt that can charge a cellphone. Once they finished the shirts, which feature pockets with a built-in phone charger and battery, the afterschool students presented their work to the rest of the class and took questions. Bobbie Brown, the site director of Brooklyn College Community Partnership, which runs the program, said the point of the program is to get kids thinking about making things. “Once they see that it’s not that hard, they’ll say ‘I can do this’,” Brown told The Brooklyn Paper. “Be more creative, take control. We’re really pushing that entrepreneurial spirit.”

Lafayette After-School Group Pairs Students with Mentors Who Are Architects, Engineers or Construction Professionals (Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky)

Architects, engineers and other construction professionals are giving students a glimpse into their daily lives through an afterschool mentoring program. In the Lafayette High School ACE (architecture, construction and engineering) Mentor Program, professionals teach students about the basics of building and aid them as they work on complex hypothetical projects. The program allows students to be around people with similar interests and to imagine what their future careers might look like. Gene Toth, director of Lafayette’s pre-engineering program, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the afterschool group gives his students “a hands-on chance to actually meet with the architects and engineers that do this on a daily basis.”

After-School Program at Nursing Home Helps Young and Old (Duncan Banner, Oklahoma)

At Wilkins Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an afterschool program for elementary students is bridging the generations. Through the Heart Bridge program, nursing home residents act as tutors and reading buddies for the students. The residents and the children love spending time together, and often connect as if they were relatives. “We have seen that children and school groups that come out always make the residents’ day,” Wilkins administrator and owner Melanie Wilkins told the Duncan Banner. “They just love to see the children and interact with them.” The average afternoon is packed with activity – the kids have a snack, read with the residents, work on art projects and attend field trips.

Teen Center Celebrated for Youth Outreach (The Herald, Connecticut)

The YWCA House of Teens, an afterschool program designed to give teenage girls advocacy and leadership skills, healthy habits and stronger self-esteem, will be honored today at a celebration with New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. House of Teens keeps girls motivated to stay in school and take part in community activities. “Many of these girls need female role models to help them develop leadership skills and good decision-making skills,” YWCA associate director Tracey Madden-Hennessey told The Herald. In the program, girls participate in community service projects, like collecting food for nonprofits and highlighting ways to prevent domestic violence. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Science
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JAN
13

POLICY
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New year, new Congress, new momentum

By Erik Peterson

2015 has only just begun but Congress is already into its second week and legislative priorities are emerging for the year ahead.  The 114th Congress convened last week with Republicans controlling both the House (246 Republicans to 188 Democrats, 1 vacancy) and the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats) as a result of the 2014 midterm elections.  What does the 114th Congress have in store that could impact afterschool and summer learning programs?  Plenty.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
19

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Every Hour Counts, a report from Vermonts PreK-16 Council

By Erik Peterson

Dr. Holly Morehouse is the Executive Director of Vermont’s statewide afterschool network. Vermont Afterschool, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit that supports organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

 

 

For every $1 invested in quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont sees a return of $2.18 in long-term benefits and savings.

This is just one of many findings in a new report, Every Hour Counts: Vermont’s Students Succeed with Expanded Learning Opportunities, from Vermont’s Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time.

The Working Group formed last June as a subcommittee of Vermont’s PreK-16 Council upon direction from the state legislature to evaluate issues of equity and access in Vermont’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), including afterschool and summer learning programs. The group was charged with identifying:  key elements of quality ELOs; ways to increase access and remove barriers to ELOs across the state; and recommendations for how ELOs can support student success in Vermont.

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Caption: Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Executive Director Holly Morehouse (center in blue) presenting the Every Hour Counts report to Vermont’s PreK-16 Council.

Making the case for ELOs

With only six months to collect data, outline our findings and develop meaningful recommendations, time was short. It helped our work immensely to be able to draw on existing research and advocacy materials. Instead of trying to come up with separate quality standards, the Working Group adopted the Afterschool Alliance’s principles for effective ELOs. We also greatly benefited from the release of the America After 3PM report and data, and built off of the Afterschool Alliance’s talking points to emphasize that afterschool and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire learners and help working families.

Connecting to broader conversations in the state

The Working Group was sensitive to concerns over rising costs and increased pressures on Vermont’s education system. Instead of portraying ELOs as something added on top of these demands, we included a section highlighting how ELOs help schools and communities do what they’ve already been asked to do. In particular, the Working Group focused on how ELO programs support Vermont’s education vision by addressing the academic achievement gap and summer learning loss; supporting schools in meeting Vermont’s new Education Quality Standards; and providing opportunities in line with Vermont’s recent “Flexible Pathways” legislation.

Recommendations

Particularly exciting is the report’s recommendation to ensure that by 2020 children and youth in every Vermont community have access to quality Expanded Learning Opportunities. Getting buy-in around that statement is a big step forward for afterschool and summer learning in Vermont.

Even though we included data on how ELOs can save Vermont money over time, the Working Group decided not to include a specific financial request in the report. We wanted to avoid the cost debate that could have distracted from the message. The Working Group felt it was most important to get broad-based buy in behind the report and recommendations first. Now that the PreK-16 Council has approved, the report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Vermont House and Senate Education Committees in mid-January. In the following months, the network will develop a corresponding proposal about what it would take in funding and infrastructure to meet the goals presented in the recommendations (i.e., access in every Vermont community).

Thank you to our funders

Key to the success of the working group was analytical support that the network was able to provide through a Network Data Grant from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the C.S. Mott Foundation. The goal of this grant initiative is to help statewide networks collect relevant out-of-school time data and effectively share the data with state legislators and legislative staff, as well as other key state policy makers. 

 

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Caption: Students engaging in STEM activities at Winooski, VT’s 21st Century Community Learning Center summer learning program.

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DEC
16

RESEARCH
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Making the case for afterschool using America After 3PM

By Nikki Yamashiro

To make a convincing argument, you need two essential components.  The first is a compelling story.  In the afterschool field, there is no shortage of compelling stories about the power of afterschool programs and their ability to keep kids safe, inspire learning and support working parents.  The second are data to support and substantiate your point.  This is where America After 3PM—our recently released national household survey on afterschool program participation and demand for afterschool programs—comes in.   

Last week, we hosted a webinar that focused on the variety of ways afterschool program providers, parents, students and advocates can use the recently released America After 3PM data to make the case for afterschool.  If you missed the webinar, you can still watch the recording or take a look at the PowerPoint presentation

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Media Outreach State Policy
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DEC
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Informing policy makers and the OST field on the opportunity gap

By Nikki Yamashiro

Sara Beanblossom is the director of communications and special events at the Indiana Afterschool Network, a nonprofit organization that inspires, empowers, and mobilizes the advocates, partners, and practitioners of afterschool and summer programs in Indiana.

AFTERSCHOOL AND SUMMER PROGRAMS CAN ADD 1,080 HOURS OF ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT TO A CHILD’S YEAR, EQUIVALENT TO THE NUMBER OF HOURS IN 144 SCHOOL DAYS. Yet, access is not equal. Low-income youth experience 6,000 fewer hours of enrichment and academic learning than their more affluent peers by the eighth grade (Hechinger Report, 2013).

Great piece of data, right?

The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) thinks so, too. That is why we are communicating this point and other important data to Indiana program providers to help them voice the need for and the impact of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs to their policy makers and funders.

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Guest Blog State Networks State Policy
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DEC
10

POLICY
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FY15 spending bill filed, on its way to House, Senate floor for passage

By Erik Peterson

House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) filed their compromise Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill last night that, if passed by both Chambers and signed into law by President Obama, will keep the federal government funded through September 30, 2015. Currently, the government is funded through a Continuing Resolution that expires tomorrow, December 11th. The bill has strong implications for federal afterschool funding. 

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 funds the government at $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the bipartisan Murray-Ryan budget agreement of December 2013. Overall the Department of Education was funded at $70.5 billion, a decrease of $133 million compared to FY14. With regard to afterschool and summer learning programs, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $2.3 million for FY15, bringing the total to $1.152 billion, up from $1.149 billion in FY14. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Budget Congress Department of Education ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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