RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Get Afterschool Updates
Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Blogs We Read Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Afterschool Snack Archives
DEC
14
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

Weekly Media Roundup: December 14, 2016

By Luci Manning

Bellringer Aids Safe Passage (Ventura County Star, California)

The Thousand Oaks police department and other Conejo Valley agencies are giving 124 youngsters an alternative to joining a gang and getting into trouble after school through Project Safe Passage. The afterschool program operates near students’ homes and provides them with a safe place to work on their homework and develop relationships with peers and positive role models. Each month, the program takes students on educational field trips to museums, universities and more. “We are bringing these services directly to the children,” Thousand Oaks Chief of Police Tim Hagel told the Ventura County Star. “They don’t have to go anywhere. We offer them a safe place to stay in multi-family areas until parents arrive home.”

Female Students Are First to Use Denfeld’s New Welding Equipment (Duluth News-Tribune, Minnesota)

Six female students are learning to meld metal and develop valuable technical skills through a new afterschool program at Duluth Denfeld High School. The program will make use of the school’s new fabrication lab, which is stocked with tools and equipment for engineering and graphic design classes. “Women are not represented well in the tech field of fabrication, welding and computer-aided design,” tech tutor and afterschool program head Roxane Simenson told the Duluth News-Tribune. She hopes her class can encourage girls to try something new and gain valuable engineering experience along the way.  

Octopus Aid: Students Design Tools for Shedd Cephalopod (Chicago Tribune, Illinois)

A group of middle school students have spent the past ten weeks applying their creativity, math and science skills to a very important task: building toys for the Shedd Aquarium’s giant Pacific octopus. The Club Shedd afterschool program brings students to the aquarium each week to learn about existing octopus enrichment tools, design their own models and eventually construct them on a 3D printer. The best ideas may be added to the octopus’ existing set of toys. The program allows students to apply their science lessons to a hands-on project and gain critical skills in the process. “What it’s given them is an open place to throw out creative ideas,” fifth-grade math and science teacher Sara Jacobson told the Chicago Tribune.

Effort to Stem Homegrown U.S. Extremism Launches (Associated Press)

Three Massachusetts organizations have been awarded federal funds to try to stem the rise of homegrown extremism by supporting youth in creative ways, as part of an initiative to honor the memory of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. According to the Associated Press, United Somali Youth received $105,000 to develop afterschool, counseling and college assistance programs for Somali, African and Middle Eastern youths that will help them build critical skills for the workforce; Empower Peace was awarded $42,000 to teach high schoolers how to develop social media campaigns promoting tolerance; and the Somali Development Center was given $63,000 to better integrate Somali immigrants and refugees into the community. 

DEC
14
2016

POLICY
email
print

Previewing the 115th Congress: What does it mean for afterschool?

By Erik Peterson

As 2016 comes to a close, so too does the 114th Congress. The 115th Congress will be called into session at noon on January 3 and will mark the first time in six years that the United States is under a unified government, meaning that the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the Presidency, are all under the control of the same party, the Republicans. What might the 115th Congress mean for afterschool programs and the children and parents they support?

New leadership

The new Congress will bring new leadership for several key committees that have jurisdiction over education policy and education spending. In the House of Representatives, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) has retired and the new Chairperson will be Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) will stay on as Ranking Member. House Appropriations Committee leadership changed as well, with new Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) taking over for Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who was term-limited out of the chairmanship. Ranking Member (and Afterschool Caucus co-chair) Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) will continue in her previous role in the 115th Congress.

On the Senate side, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) remain as leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP). Chairman Thad Cochran (R-TN) is staying on as Committee Chairman for the Senate Appropriations Committee with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) taking over for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) as Ranking Member.

New challenges within the appropriations process

Friends of afterschool should closely follow the FY 2017 and FY 2018 appropriations cycles beginning early in 2017. With the continuing resolution authorizing federal spending at current 2016 fiscal year spending levels set to expire on April 28, 2017, finalizing the FY 2017 spending bill will be a key priority early in the 115th Congress. Constraints on available funding include discretionary spending caps that limit available funds as well as competing priorities outside of the education arena in areas like infrastructure and health. In late spring, Congress will also have to initiate the FY 2018 spending process, which will be even more challenging given the return of the sequester cuts after a two-year negotiated hiatus.

Making your voice heard early and often next year will be critical to educating the new Congress on the many valuable outcomes of local afterschool and summer learning programs. Use our action center to share your thoughts on the appropriations process and its impact on afterschool with your member of Congress to ensure that no cuts are made late in the fiscal cycle next year.   

DEC
13
2016

FUNDING
email
print

An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Year-end appeals

By Michael Burke

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by Mike Burke, Director of Development at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs. Check out the first, second, third and fourth installments.

Photo via Flickr.

As the calendar year draws to a close, many of you are busy with year-end fundraising campaigns. Because many people wait until December to make their tax-deductible donations, the year-end appeal is a great opportunity to engage your donors with highlights of the past year, as well as an opportunity to look forward to the coming year. If your afterschool program reached significant milestones, or has exciting plans to expand or begin a new initiative in the coming year, the year-end appeal is the perfect time to ask your donors to continue and/or increase their support.

In the digital age, there are many different approaches to how you can go about conducting your year-end appeal. Don’t discount the traditional direct-mail letter—it’s still an incredibly effective method for raising valuable funds. Some programs may opt instead to engage donors through email or social media.

Whether you are engaging your donors through direct-mail, via email, or using a combination of both, there are several key things to remember as you wrap up your year-end campaign.

Compare your year-end appeal to other campaigns

You’re probably receiving a lot of appeals from other organizations in both your mailbox and your email inbox. Take some time to examine their requests for support and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you like in their request for support?
  • Is there anything in their messaging that rubs you the wrong way?
  • Do you feel connected to their mission? If so, what makes their messaging effective? If not, what are they lacking?
  • What makes their appeal stand out from so many others?
  • The bottom line: Would you give to them?

Then, take what you’ve learned and use it to refine your own outreach.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2hCmZCE
learn more about: Marketing Sustainability
DEC
13
2016

POLICY
email
print

Update: Congress passes second stop-gap funding bill

By Erik Peterson

Update, December 13: Both chambers of Congress passed a short-term stopgap spending bill last week to avoid a government shutdown that would have occurred at midnight last Friday, December 9. The continuing resolution (CR) is the second such measure passed this year and will fund the government through April 28, 2017.

Original post, December 8:

This week, the House of Representatives released the text of a new short-term continuing resolution (CR) that Congress must pass by this Friday, December 9th to avoid a government shutdown. The CR will maintain the federal government’s current funding level through April 28, 2017. This second CR will pick up where the first one, passed in late September, left off.  This means that funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers will be maintained at the current level for another four months.

In April, lawmakers must negotiate a final spending bill in order to keep the government operating through the end of FY17 on September 30, 2017. This will likely take the form of either a third CR or an omnibus spending bill.

Some conservative Members of Congress are urging their leadership to enact cuts to domestic discretionary l spending levels in any final bill that is passed next year. If these efforts are successful and the final spending bill appropriates less money than FY16  spending levels, it will likely result in fewer children attending local afterschool and summer learning programs that leverage federal support through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and the Child Care Development Block Grant.

Make your voice heard: use our action center to share your thoughts on the appropriations process and its impact on afterschool with your member of Congress to ensure that no cuts are made late in the fiscal cycle next year.

The CR also includes provisions that will be of interest to summer learning programs operating the Summer Meals program—namely, it includes funding to maintain both the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer food program for low-income children who get meals at school during the academic year and the Child Nutrition Information Clearinghouse.   

Congress is expected to wind up much of their work by next week and will officially convene the 115th Congress on January 3rd.

DEC
12
2016

FUNDING
email
print

Your arts program could win $10,000 and an invitation to the White House

By Rachel Clark

Des Moines Public Schools students showed off their artistic talents at their 2016 Lights On Afterschool celebration.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities is currently seeking applicants for the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. According to the Committee, the award is “the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.”

12 outstanding programs from a wide range of communities across the country will be recognized with a $10,000 grant, an invitation to accept the award at the White House, and a full year of capacity-building and communications support to ensure their programming will benefit youth for years to come.

Who’s eligible?

The short answer: many afterschool programs!

The eligibility criteria specify that applicants must operate as ongoing, regularly-scheduled programs for children and youth outside of the school day, using one or more disciplines of the arts or humanities as the core content of their programs, and must concentrate on underserved children and youth. The programming must involve children and youth as active participants, rather than only as an audience for arts or humanities experiences, and must integrate arts and humanities education with youth development goals.

Additionally, programs must have been operational since January 2013 for a minimum of five years, including 2017, and must be a 501(c)(3) organization, state or local government entity, or federally recognized tribal community or tribe.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2hxbBYP
learn more about: Funding Opportunity Arts
DEC
9
2016

LIGHTS ON
email
print

Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Using Lights On Afterschool to collaborate in new ways

By Elizabeth Tish

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnerships, the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring, and on new tools for working with school resource officers.

Last month, local police officers joined the Child Center of New York at Basie Beacon IS 72 for a youth-driven Lights On Afterschool celebration in Queens, N.Y. After identifying conflict with police as a major issue in their community, the program’s youth council developed the theme of the evening, “Improvement Starts with ‘I:’” a call for everyone in the community to play a role in improving relations with local police.

“We like to speak to the students as part of the Beacon program and get their ideas on current events,” said Barry Barclift, Program Coordinator of the Basie Beacon program, explaining the value of youth-led programming.

To bring youth and law enforcement officers together, Beacon hosted a basketball game with youth and officers from the 113th Precinct. Students who weren’t interested in playing basketball got involved in the event as members of the dance and step groups that performed at half-time. One student in the program even emceed the game, amusing parent and community spectators.  

Lights On event leads to future partnerships

“The event allowed students to see the officers in a different light. When you see them in uniform, you see them one way, but if you see them out of uniform or participating in a basketball game, you look at them differently,” explained Barclift. After Lights On Afterschool, the students asked to have monthly events with the officers. These events will continue to be planned with input from the youth council.

Barclift said that the 113th Precinct officers are very supportive and excited to continue working with the Beacon program: “They are going to come and assist anywhere that we need them, so that our students see that [the officers] are invested in the community, even though they don’t live here.”

While the youth council will continue to plan events, they will also give the officers an opportunity to offer future partnership ideas to guide their work with the program going forward.

Barclift advises programs who are looking to adopt a similar partnership model to follow a youth-led approach. He wants Beacon’s law enforcement programming to be a collaboration between the youth council and police officers moving forward, an approach that allows the students to have ownership over the interaction and work hard to create a product they are proud of, while allowing officers to connect with students through an activity that excites them.   

share this link: http://bit.ly/2hdIwRs
learn more about: Community Partners
DEC
7
2016

STEM
email
print

New report: Opportunities and challenges in afterschool computer science

By Melissa Ballard

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, we’re proud to release our new report, “Growing computer science education in afterschool: Opportunities and challenges.” A diverse group of stakeholders—including educators, business and industry, policy makers, and parents—agree that computer science education is vital for kids to become the creators and innovators for the next generation, making technology work for them and designing solutions for their communities.

In the report, we asked the afterschool field what they thought about computer science education. They responded with overwhelming interest: 59 percent of our survey respondents were either offering computing to their students at the time of the survey or had offered it in the past, with the majority saying they were highly likely to offer it again. Among the programs that had never offered computing education before (40 percent of respondents), 89 percent indicated a high or medium level of interest in trying it out.

Despite this strong interest, afterschool providers indicated some big challenges to offering computer science to their students, especially finding qualified educators to teach it, securing funding, and accessing necessary technology. To address these common challenges, as well as other issues mentioned in our focus groups, our report offers nine recommendations for K-12 computer science education stakeholders:

For afterschool leaders and practitioners:

  1. Document promising practices.
  2. Share existing resources more broadly.
  3. Support individual afterschool programs’ capacity for partnerships. 

For computer science education experts:

  1. Conduct targeted outreach to the afterschool field to educate them on computing.
  2. Increase professional development opportunities for out-of-school time educators.
  3. Develop engaging curricula designed for the afterschool environment. 

For industry partners and grantmakers:

  1. Engage and invest in meaningful partnerships with afterschool providers.
  2. Support training for employee volunteers.
  3. Provide and promote a diverse array of funding opportunities.

For more details on our recommendations, and how you can implement them, download the full report!

We hope that our findings will help K-12 computer science education stakeholders support the growth of quality, sustainable computing education within the afterschool field. Read the full report today, and be sure to forward it to your friends and colleagues.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2h6Udt9
learn more about: Digital Learning Science
DEC
7
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

Weekly Media Roundup: December 7, 2016

By Luci Manning

Establishing a Culture of Peace (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)
Students in the Martin Luther King Center afterschool program now have a safe space to relax, take a few deep breaths and escape the drama of their daily lives. The community center decided to create the new Peace Room to give students a place to wind down, read and meditate after they finish their homework. The room is filled with peace-themed art, books and beanbag chairs. “We’ve dedicated this as the no-drama zone,” center director Allison Luthe told the Indianapolis Star. In addition to the afterschool program, the center also tries to engage parents with services like job training, co-working space and financial coaching.

One Zesty Food Fight (St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, Michigan)
Some 130 students from five area high schools stewed beans, chopped vegetables and fried cornbread at the eighth annual Chili Cook-Off at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College on Friday. The competition gave students a chance to meet their peers in other culinary programs and show off the skills they have been learning in their cooking classes. Being in a college setting also may have inspired some of the students to start thinking about their future. “It can get them excited about college,” Chris Woodruff, chair of the college’s Hospitality and Management Faculty and program, told the Herald-Palladium. “Maybe they haven’t even thought about it yet. It’s like, ‘This is fun. I can do this. I may to do this for a career.’”

From Syrian Refugee to U.S. Doctor, He Helps Shape Teens’ Dreams (CNN)
When Dr. Heval Mohammad Kelli arrived in the U.S. as a Syrian refugee at age 17, he worked as a dishwasher on nights and weekends to help support his family, hoping to one day save enough money to go to medical school. Now, he trains as a cardiology fellow at Emory University, one block away from that restaurant, and mentors high school refugees who want to follow in his footsteps. “I feel the obligation as a physician that my service goes beyond patient care: I need to invest in the community,” Kelli told CNN. The Young Physicians Initiative is an afterschool program that partners Emory University medical students with young refugees from around the world to inspire them to pursue a career in medicine, no matter the barriers.

After-School Programs Are Vital for Austin’s Children (Austin-American Statesman, Texas)
Karen LaShelle, executive director of Creative Action, lays out the benefits of afterschool programs in an Austin-American Statesman op-ed: "One big reason so many children aren’t some place safe and constructively engaged is that we don’t have enough after-school programs across the state...The Del Valle school district, located just east of Austin, has risen to the challenge. All of its 12 schools provide after-school programs for youths in K-12th grade...They can get help with homework; act in a play; dance in a ballet folklorico group; learn about various science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics; play soccer of chess; plant and harvest a garden and more. And they do all those things under the watchful eyes of caring adults...We can only hope that leaders in other communities will find a way to follow Del Valle's example."