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JUN
17

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 17, 2015

By Luci Manning

Program Guides Students Through Boat Building Using Academics (WPVI, Pennsylvania)  

Local middle school and high school students capped off their boat-building afterschool program by launching two handcrafted duck boats into the Delaware River last week. The SAILOR Program (Science and Art Innovative Learning on the River) uses traditional boat building and nautical education to advance proficiency in STEM subjects. Students worked with shipwright mentors and STEM instructors at the Independence Seaport Museum for 33 weeks to design and craft the boats. “It’s a really dynamic program where they build the boat, but by building the boat they’re really learning about STEM, and really hands-on and fun and engaging way,” organizer Jennifer Totora told WPVI.  

Roosevelt Students Enjoy Hands-on Ag Experience (Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Nebraska)  

Nearly 100 third, fourth and fifth graders recently had the chance to learn about how agriculture affects their daily lives through the inaugural 4-H Ag Literacy program. The students toured six stations at the research center focused on animals, soil science, how insects affect agriculture, careers and more. The Ag Literacy program fits well with the Roosevelt Elementary School summer extended day program’s goal to focus on math, writing, reading and science, according to Principal Jana Mason. “The students were excited and learned a lot,” she told the Star-Herald. “This is the first year with the extended day program, and the Ag Literacy provides more opportunities for the students to make real world connections.”  

Marco YMCA’s Wonder Girls Program Includes Growth in Surprising Ways (Naples Herald, Florida)  

“I learned that you need to accept who you are and how to make the right choices socially, like who your friends are, and how to eat right and surround yourself with good people that make you feel good about yourself.”  This is a testimonial from a young woman who participated in Wonder Girls, a 12-week afterschool program teaching middle school girls how to be healthier, inside and out, the Naples Herald reports.  Thanks to Wonder Girls, a partnership between the Greater Marco Family YMCA and Marco Island Charter Middle School, these young women gained self-confidence, insight into themselves and others and knowledge about healthy living. Organizers are so pleased with the success of the program that they’re offering it again in the fall and plan to launch a version for males, Wonder Boys, next spring. 

Baltimore Program Tackles Roots of Unrest (Voice of America News, Maryland) 

Promise Heights, an academic-community partnership, is using four public schools as hubs to deliver nurturing, wraparound services to students, families and their communities in West Baltimore. These community schools aim to mitigate the detrimental effects extreme poverty can have on kids and their parents through services like prenatal care, tutoring and parental counseling. Executive director Bronwyn Mayden says Promise Heights schools are suspending fewer students than their counterparts, gains she attributes in part to expanded learning days and afterschool programs. The partnership strives to create a supportive environment at school and home so as to improve impoverished students’ learning abilities. “We work with those social-emotional factors… so their little brains are ready to receive the instruction that their educators are giving them,” social worker Henriette Taylor told Voice of America News.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Science Community Partners
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JUN
16

POLICY
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FY16 education spending bill released in House, would impact children and families

By Erik Peterson

The House Appropriations Committee today released a draft fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, which will be debated and voted on at the subcommittee level tomorrow, June 17th. The draft bill cuts discretionary funding for the Department of Education by $2.8 billion compared to fiscal year 2015 levels (and $6.4 billion below the President’s budget request) but appears to keep 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) level with last year’s funding at $1.15 billion. However, there is significant concern with the bill, as it makes deep cuts to many programs that support children and working families.

The legislation, summarized here by the House Appropriations Committee, includes funding for programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The bill eliminates at least 19 education programs, including:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUN
16

STEM
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Guest blog: WGBH's new afterschool & summer camp guides for environmental science

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Marisa Wolsky is an Executive Producer at WGBH Educational Foundation with over 20 years of experience producing entertaining and educational media for kids. She is an Executive Producer for the new environmental science series PLUM LANDING, the engineering series Design Squad, and the preschool science and math series PEEP and the Big Wide World, all funded by NSF. Prior to this, she worked on the development and production of many children’s series, including Long Ago & Far AwayWhere in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?Arthurand ZOOM.

Over the past 20 years, the staff at WGBH, Boston’s PBS television station, have developed both a breadth and depth of experience bringing STEM subjects to life for kids, while providing informal educators (many of whom don’t have a STEM background) approaches for leading hands-on activities with kids in afterschool settings. Kids attending afterschool programs nationwide with Girls Inc., Girl Scouts USA, the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs affiliates, and more have explored STEM with WGBH in a variety of ways—they’ve learned how to be scientifically curious with an inquisitive monkey named George, conducted real science experiments given by an unreal dog named Ruff Ruffman, and used Design Squad to dispel the stereotype of the nerdy engineer who sits at his desk all day and replaced it with thinking, “That’s engineering? I didn’t know that! I want to do that.”

WGBH’s newest project, PLUM LANDING, is an exciting PBS KIDS environmental science initiative that helps kids develop a love for, and a connection to, this amazing planet we call home.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog Science
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JUN
15

RESEARCH
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Soccer for Success keeping kids active and healthy

By Nikki Yamashiro

We know that afterschool programs across the country are helping to keep kids active and healthy, providing opportunities for physical activity, as well as offering healthy snacks and meals. The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s release of a new, independent evaluation of their Soccer for Success program—a free afterschool program serving approximately 30,000 children in underserved communities around the U.S.—further makes the case that afterschool programs have a positive impact on the health and wellness of students. The year-long evaluation, conducted by Healthy Networks Design & Research, looked at health indicators such as Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles, waist circumference and PACER test lap results and found that children in the program improved their physical fitness and overall health. The evaluation reports that students in the program:

  • Decreased their BMI percentiles,
  • Transitioned to healthier BMI percentile categories,
  • Decreased their waist circumference size, and
  • Improved their aerobic capacity

Soccer for Success is a great example of how afterschool programs encourage heathy habits by combining physical activity, nutrition education, mentorship and family engagement. The result is a dynamic program that addresses different aspects of youth development, from children’s health issues to juvenile delinquency. Read more about the Soccer for Success impact evaluation at ussoccerfoundation.org and find out what physical activity opportunities look like for kids in your state on our interactive web dashboard

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
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JUN
12

RESEARCH
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More students are participating in summer learning programs, but there's still work to be done

By Jodi Grant

With temperatures rising, summer is on everyone’s mind—especially families with kids getting ready for summer break. We’re excited to kick off the summer months by releasing America After 3PM data that paints a detailed picture of the summer learning landscape across the country.

The good news: participation in summer learning programs has increased markedly in the last five years. 33 percent of families reported that at least one of their kids took part in a summer program in 2013. That’s up from 25 percent in 2008—a significant jump!

But we also found that there is still a great deal of work to be done. The demand for summer learning programs far outpaces the rate of participation, with more than half of families reporting that they’d like their child to participate. The problem of unmet demand persists throughout the out-of-school-time field. For every child participating in an afterschool program—from which many summer programs spring—two more are waiting to get in.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Summer Learning
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JUN
11

RESEARCH
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New summer learning numbers, new dashboard look

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last October, we took a look at how children spend the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. during the regular school year. As the temperature begins to rise and kids and families get ready for summer break, we have turned our attention to the summer months and what the summer learning program landscape looks like in the U.S. Answering questions like “what percentage of families have a child in a summer learning program?” and “how many families want their child to take part in a summer learning program?” our interactive Web dashboard—that includes data for all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia—is an easy way to find out what participation in summer learning programs looks like in your state.

In addition to discovering what summer learning program participation and demand for summer learning programs looks like in your state, the dashboard also includes state-level information on the average amount of time children spend in a summer learning program, the cost of summer learning programs, and parent support for public funding of summer learning programs. For example, you can see that demand for summer learning programs ranges from 33 percent in North Dakota to 73 percent in the District of Columbia. 

Each state also has its own state-specific dashboard where, in addition to the new summer numbers, you can view everything from the number of children in an afterschool program to the percentage of children who receive a healthy snack or meal in their program to the percentage of parents who agree that afterschool programs help working families keep their jobs.

Our new summer numbers are complete with a new homepage for all of your America After 3PM needs. The homepage has been redesigned to help you more easily sort through and locate numbers from the original America After 3PM report release, findings from the special report on health and wellness in afterschool, and findings on summer learning programs. There is a wealth of data on the dashboard—find what interests you most!

Happy navigating!

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learn more about: America After 3PM Summer Learning
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JUN
10

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 10, 2015

By Luci Manning

Internet Rapper Mingles with Jersey City Afterschool Program Students (Jersey Journal, New Jersey)

Internet phenomenon Kevin “DJ Lil Man” Brown, also known as Mr. New Jersey, recently dropped in on St. Peters University’s afterschool program, where he was greeted by dozens of frenzied, excited students. According to the Jersey Journal Brown led the students in an altered game of musical chairs, where the winner had to answer a history question before receiving a $20 prize, and a dance contest. Afterwards, he stuck around to take pictures with the students. In addition to hosting celebrity guests, the afterschool and summer program offers kids a number of fun activities each year – last summer they performed step routines and directed and acted in TV commercials promoting products they had created.

Lincoln Students Race to Improve Reading Skills (Mason City Globe Gazette, Iowa)

Sixty-five fifth- and sixth-graders finished their nine-week commitment to read and exercise more with the Lincoln Intermediate Read and Run 5K last week. Sixth grade literacy instructor Kathleen Nutt told the Globe Gazette that she decided to develop Read and Run after learning that students often show improved academic performance after exercising. Participants in the afterschool program prepared for the race using the Couch to 5K training plan, then spent a half-hour reading. First-place finisher Christian Rodriguez said the program has helped him improve his reading scores, and he credits his math teacher’s encouragement to “push to do better than I know I can” with keeping him motivated throughout the race.

New Boise Partnership Will Bring Produce Along with the Fun and Games (Idaho Statesman, Idaho)

Each summer, a van known as the Mobile Recreation Unit travels through lower-income Boise neighborhoods and provides free, supervised, drop-in activities for kids who don’t have access to programs near their homes. This year, the Mobile Rec van is teaming up with the Boise Farmers Market to offer those neighborhoods another helpful service: farm-fresh produce. While the kids play, their parents will be able to shop for farm-fresh produce from a refrigerated mobile market traveling alongside the van, according to the Idaho Statesman. The two programs are working together to promote Boise’s initiative to curb childhood obesity.

At Santa Monica PAL, Youth Chefs Get a Taste for Success (Santa Monica Daily Press, California)

The Santa Monica Police Activities League’s afterschool cooking class has high school students producing everything from pasta and rice dishes to salads to flatbread pizzas and grilled kabob skewers. The culinary arts program not only teaches kids to make quick, healthful meals, but also aims to foster self-sufficiency, keep young people engaged afterschool and nurture their development as upstanding citizens. Students recently showed off what they’ve learned by cooking a meal for dozens of donors and community members, whipping up dishes like chicken piccata, salmon and spinach cannelloni. Program supervisor Karen Humphrey said she hopes the students continue to use these skills outside the classroom to keep themselves and their families healthy. “My hope is that they continue to cook at home,” she told the Santa Monica Daily Press. “We want the kids to be able to cook food for their entire family.” 

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JUN
5

POLICY
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USDA considers comments on CACFP meal pattern changes

By Erik Peterson

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) closed the comment period on their proposed new rules governing the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Every day, more than 3 million children and adults receive meals through CACFP in Head Start programs, child and adult day cares, emergency shelters, and afterschool programs. 

The new meal pattern requirements align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as required by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. These guidelines will help to ensure every meal received through the CACFP program is healthy and nutritious, including those meals served by afterschool programs through the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals program. With these new guidelines the USDA has taken a step forward in providing nutrient rich meals to children. Under the proposed guidelines, there will be no increase in funding accompanying the changes.

The Afterschool Alliance joined more than 1,400 organizations and individuals in submitting a letter providing comments to the USDA, commending the agency for taking a balanced approach to updating the nutrition requirements for CACFP and urging USDA to allow flexibility and avoid creating more record keeping requirements and increasing the risk of losing meal reimbursements. 

Specific recommendations were also provided:

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learn more about: Federal Policy Nutrition
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