By Luci Manning
Freedom Summer organizer, Bob Moses, who led the historic African American voter registration movement 50 years ago, is back to rally for better education in Mississippi. At a Conference in Tougaloo, parents, experts and activists talked about what they can do to help students improve their test scores and prepare them for a successful future. “During the session, both panelists and audience members called for better funded schools, more access to pre-kindergarten, higher quality teachers and summer and after-school programs,” the Clarion Ledger reports.
Members of the Coast Guard taught Toledo’s Maritime Academy cadets basic swimming and treading techniques, scuba diving and rowing this summer. One cadet who was initially timid around the water now participates in the relay races and feels quite comfortable. Sheri Rodgers, an instructor at the academy told The Blade, “Because she knew all the new survival stuff, she got across the pool with confidence and with eyes big as saucers saying, ‘Look, I did it!’” The weeklong camp was funded by a grant from a 21st Century Community Learning Center.
The red-legged frog, which first gained popularity as the featured species in Mark Twain’s short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” is now a California state symbol, thanks to some civic-minded students at Sea View Elementary. The effort began in an afterschool program, and quickly gained popularity throughout the school. Sea View Elementary principal, Timothy Steele, communicated the exhilaration of the process. He told the Desert Sun, “It’s beyond exciting. It’s surreal.” Not only did the students learn about amphibians and the legislative process, but as Steele said, “we can make a difference no matter how old we are.”
As part of the 2014 Summer Learning Passport Program, New Britain students got a behind the scenes look at what it takes to publish a daily newspaper earlier this week. Over the course of the summer students will also visit the New Britain Fire Department, youth theatre, police department and Avery Beverages. At each stop of the summer learning initiative, students are taken behind the scenes to learn more about each industry.
By Jodi Grant
What an incredible way to start the summer! Two events, two days and two great shout-outs for our afterschool and summer learning programs.
White House Summit on Working Families
On Mon., June 23, the White House hosted its first ever White House Summit on Working Families. The event featured celebrities, journalists and Members of Congress, as well as Dr. Jill Biden, Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Pres. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and pulled out every stop to showcase and highlight the challenges facing our working families.
While every speaker mentioned the need for high-quality childcare, I cheered loudest for Vice Pres. Biden, whose impassioned speech kicked off with a tribute to the power and impact of afterschool programs. Defining families as more than just parents, the vice president spoke about how afterschool programs make a tremendous difference not only for working families, but also for the students who are at the gravest risk during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. The vice president even gave a shout-out to many of the community-based organizations that help to provide care during the afterschool hours.
Bob Seidel is the senior director of strategic initiatives and policy at the National Summer Learning Association. For more ideas on addressing policy makers about summer learning, contact Bob Seidel at email@example.com.
Summer Learning Day is June 20! But you can celebrate it locally anytime during the summer. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the students, educators and their community partners who are making summertime an exciting period of growth and learning.
It’s also an important occasion for calling attention to the challenge that summer learning loss poses to our communities. Mayors, council members, superintendents, principals and other local leaders need to understand that summer learning loss can undermine academic success and, with it, the community’s future, but that expanding summer learning opportunities can support and accelerate education goals.
We welcomed more than 30 youth from across the country to this year’s Afterschool for All Challenge. Half came from science center afterschool programs, thanks to our partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). Youth from this year’s MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award-winning programs also attended. These young advocates visited Congressional offices along with their state teams and shared personal stories of how afterschool has impacted their lives. But before they got started, we helped prepare them in an intensive workshop.
The workshop started with the students brainstorming ideas about what advocacy is and how it’s done. The group focused in on one aspect of advocacy—that it gave voice to those that don’t have one—thinking about other kids in their home communities. Then, we discussed what kinds of "asks" state teams would make and how advocacy through Capitol Hill visits fits into the legislative process (and of course, we had to show the classic School House Rock video).
To prepare for their turn to speak in the next day’s Capitol Hill meetings, we spent time crafting and practicing talking points. The task was to come up with a short, succinct way to describe what they did in their afterschool programs; why it mattered to them; and to concretely describe the effect participation has had on their interests, behaviors, knowledge and skills. Our last task for the workshop was to translate these talking points into a memorable document to leave behind with Congressional staff after the meetings. Check out all the youth’s handouts in America’s Afterschool Storybook.
Feedback from both the youth and their adult leaders was overwhelmingly positive. Leaders reported that the youth’s compelling personal stories were a great impact at each office they visited. ASTC is currently working on a video capturing the reactions of the science center youth—we’ll post that next week. We’re looking forward to an even bigger and better Afterschool for All Challenge in 2015!
As part of the Afterschool for All Challenge, last week Judge Glenda Hatchett joined some 250 parents, children, educators, lawmakers and advocates from around the country at the “Breakfast of Champions” on Capitol Hill to honor Members of Congress and state champions for afterschool programs. We were proud to give our National “Afterschool for All” Champion Award to Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine, for her powerful and growing body of research that has been used to improve programs and measure their impact.
Dr. Vandell was one of the first researchers to assess afterschool programs and has been presenting findings to her peers on afterschool choices and outcomes for more than 20 years. She has released more than 30 papers and articles reviewing the academic and social outcomes associated with participation in quality programs. She is a preeminent researcher on afterschool programs and outcomes, and her work has informed program and policy development at the national, state and local levels.
Thanks to our partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), nearly 20 young people and their adult chaperones joined us from the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences in Camden; the Newark Museum in Newark, N.J.; The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Penn.; the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md.; and the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. Check out the blog ASTC has posted about their experience. We envisioned this year's participation as a pilot effort and hope to make it even bigger next year with more science centers participating in the Afterschool for All Challenge. A big thank you to our ASTC partners for working with us to make all of this happen. Join the ASTC STEM Afterschool Community of Practice if you'd like to engage in this conversation with us.
Hundreds of you took action for the Afterschool for All Challenge; Congress heard you loud and clear
Last week, hundreds of afterschool advocates took action to urge their Members of Congress to support the Afterschool for America’s Children Act. While afterschool leaders from across the country spent the day on Capitol Hill to hold 200 meetings with Members of Congress and their staff, almost 700 more amplified their voices by calling and emailing from home.
You spoke, they listened. Here’s what your actions were able to do:
- 7 new co–sponsors of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act in the House: Reps. Beatty (D-Ohio), Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Sewell (D-Ala.), Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Lowey (D-N.Y.). That more than quadruples the number of co-sponsors from before the Afterschool for All Challenge!
- At least 1 new co–sponsor of the Afterschool for America’s Act in the Senate—we’ll keep you posted on who they are once the Senate is back in session next week!
- At least 3 new members of the Congressional Afterschool Caucus.
Thanks again for taking the Afterschool for All Challenge and advocating for the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families. We couldn’t have done it without you!
On May 22—in conjunction with the 13th annual Afterschool for All Challenge—the Senate Afterschool Caucus, the Afterschool Alliance and the Expanded Learning Project joined forces to host a Capitol Hill briefing featuring compelling stories and encouraging research that point to the success and potential of afterschool and summer learning programs.
Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Education, shared new data that shows how quality afterschool programs can help close the achievement gap. She emphasized findings that show afterschool programs are particularly effective at improving achievement and positive behavior among low-income students. She noted that afterschool researchers and advocates have data that show that the long-term outcomes associated with afterschool participation are positive and compelling and should move the discussion about the benefits of afterschool beyond the safety and good behaviors conversations. In addition, Vandell stated that in recent years the research tools and findings have facilitated the incorporation of measures of intensity, duration and quality.