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.
On May 22, we’re teaming up with the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks to bring afterschool leaders from around the country to Washington, D.C., to meet face to face with Members of Congress and urge them to co–sponsor the Afterschool for America’s Children Act. We need your help to amplify their voices.You’re the local expert on afterschool. Members of Congress need to hear from constituents like you who care about making afterschool for all a reality. Help us make 535 calls to Congress–that’s one for every senator and representative on Capitol Hill.
Click here to call your Members of Congress. We have everything you’ll need to make the call, including a sample script!
As many of you have heard by now, the informal science education (ISE) field recently lost one of its greatest champions—Dr. Alan Friedmann, a physicist, former director of the New York Hall of Science, a trustee of the Noyce Foundation, a former board member of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB); his credentials make for a long list. There have been many wonderful op-eds, blogs, and tributes paid to him already—see for example, the moving “Thinking of Alan” page at the New York Hall, the New York Times article, and the blog post from the Coalition for Science After School. They all serve to not only celebrate his life and accomplishments but also underscore just how deep our loss is and how much of an impact he had on the ISE field and the individual people in this field.
I had known of Alan for a long time but started working with him only when I came to the Afterschool Alliance in 2010 and started working closely with the Noyce Foundation. In my new role as an advocate for afterschool STEM education, I learned a great deal about advocacy from him. He was such an enthusiastic and tireless advocate for ISE and afterschool that he gave me hope and much-needed support when I felt demoralized and lonely in the fight. I treasured how gentle and humble he was for such a distinguished scholar and how unfailingly kind he was to me and all who met him.
Ed. Note: The White House Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, is focused on creating opportunities for boys and young men of color. To help the White House better understand the important role that afterschool programs are playing in supporting boys and young men of color, we are gathering stories from the field and will be sharing them with the White House. We may also ask you to share additional details in the form of a guest blog or on a conference call or webinar. Our afterschool ambassador, Rennell Woods, is helping us kick off this project with his story below. Please submit your story here.
Rennell Woods is the executive director of the At-Risk American Male Education Network in Jonesboro, Ark., and an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance. AAMEN’s work is supported by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
The launch last month of the president’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is great news. I’m reminded every single day of the need for such an effort.
By Luci Manning
A recent editorial in Wilmington’s Star News urges residents to go beyond community meetings and take action to address recent gang violence. The editorial says: “It is clear that Wilmington residents and community leaders desperately want to put a stop to the violence that is destroying the lives of many of our young people. And for the most part, they agree on what needs to be done – better resources, more attention to early childhood education and programs to divert kids from gangs and crime, mental health and parenting counseling, second chances for young offenders, higher graduation rates, better opportunities overall… It will take commitment and cooperation, but also resources. Is this community ready to step up, or will we instead determine that the price is too high? We already are paying too high a price; we can’t afford to lose more of our children to violence.”
Thanks to the Greenville Boxing Club, two teens are now poised to compete for an Olympic medal. Shakir Robinson, personal fitness trainer and the afterschool program’s founder, opened the gym’s doors to the students to give them something to do after school to keep them off the streets. Khalid Johnson, one of the two teens trying out for the Olympic team, told KHNO 2 that not only does he believe the club is the driving force behind his chances at the Olympics, but that it has also helped him perform better in school, saying “I didn’t like science, but I like it now, more than I used to. The program has helped me focus in the classroom.”
Initially a way to pass the time in between helping students with homework, knitting has become a popular activity with students thanks to the tutelage of one volunteer. Susan Frierson became the knitting teacher at the Brookhaven Boys and Girls Club after many students, fascinated by her handiwork, asked her to teach them. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I’ve talked up what a skill this is and how it’s been around for so long. I’ve explained how it’s a nice quiet activity; how it teaches concentration and patience; how you’re supposed to think about the person you’re knitting for and to make them something that will make them feel warm and loved.”
In a society of instant gratification, Prairie River Middle School is offering students the opportunity to reap the rewards of detail-oriented, hard work through an informal afterschool canoe building club. Mark Pugh, the program’s founder, told the Daily Herald that he is there every step of the way to guide students through the processes. Since the program’s inception, five students have worked with Pugh, four making canoes, and one making a canoe shaped shelf. The club has taught the kids patience and determination, and to pay strict attention to detail. The students can’t wait to get their boats on the water.
By Luci Manning
After Kindergartener and activist Terry Miles wrote a letter to Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler about recent shootings in his neighborhood, Terry and the rest of his classmates at the MuncieP3 afterschool program then took a trip to the mayor’s office to discuss ways to prevent gun violence in their community. Terry’s letter read: “Dear Mayor, I want to ask an important question. People have been shooting at night and I want to ask you ‘Can you make them stop?’ I want to meet this man who told the other people to shoot guns because it is inappropriate to shoot guns.” Brittany Cain, an instructor for the MuncieP3 program, told the Star Press that regardless of their age, these students can make a real difference.
On Monday, 50 students took to the water to launch another season of a competitive afterschool sailing program at the Buffalo Yacht Club. The students practice various complicated and scientific techniques during the week, and then on Fridays, they get a chance to put their skills to the test in a race. While many participants have been sailing for years, anyone interested is encouraged to join the program. Alyssa Vianese, a senior at Fredonia High School, told the Buffalo News that they “just go for it,” adding that “sailing is a sport for anyone and everyone, and it’s a lifetime sport.”
To commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America James Hmurovich issued a call to action to all Americans and specifically Illinoisans, to improve the lives of children and families. In an article for the State Journal-Register, Hmurovich writes that everyone has a part to play.
“We all have a role to play in healthy child development and the prevention of child abuse. Coaches, teachers, babysitters and health care professionals work with children every day and already are working to move the country toward being a greater place for children. But even if you don't work with or around children, you still can have a positive effect on their lives. If you have time in the afternoon, you could volunteer at after-school programs or help coach sports teams to ensure parents have a safe place for kids to go when they get out of school and before parents typically get home from work…. By taking the time to volunteer for before- or after-school programs, offering to help families in your own neighborhood, or working to ensure that programs proven to prevent child abuse continue to be funded, you can have a meaningful effect on the lives of children throughout the community. Actions like these help bring together communities, reduce isolation and help children and families succeed by providing them with tools and resources for optimal development. If we all pledge to do each of these activities at least once during the month of April, we can make a real difference.”
By Luci Manning
Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders makes a compelling case for why Fort Worth’s crime prevention tax needs to be renewed, citing the positive learning experiences at the Fort Worth After School (FWAS) program. Miguel Garcia, an Afterschool Ambassador and program director of FWAS, told the Star-Telegram how the afterschool programs “provide a safe, positive learning experience for students at the end of the school day when many of them otherwise would be at home, or somewhere else, without adult supervision.” Sanders calls the $1.1 million the FWAS program receives in Crime Control and Prevention District funding, “a small amount of money for all the benefit that comes from this exceptional program.”
Roxbury coach Tony Richards was there many years ago when Shabazz Napier, point guard for the University of Connecticut, learned to play the sport he loved at the Roxbury YMCA. Richards started coaching kids in Boston neighborhoods in his “No Books, No Ball” program to keep his son and nephew off the streets. Richards told the Boston Globe, “You see these single mothers, you see these kids that need mentoring… that’s the energy that keeps me coming back.” Napier will play in this year’s Final Four on Saturday.
On any given Monday night, dozens of students are engaged in some friendly competition at Jacksonville High School’s chess club. The newly formed club was intended not only for the students to improve their chess skills for the sake of winning the game, but to employ those skills in all areas of life. Club co-founder Larry Richmond told the Jacksonville Daily Progress that to excel in chess, the students need to utilize logical thinking and a strong work ethic, qualities he believes are “the greatest value to academics.”
Donors at Hicksville blood drives were treated to snacks and juice from a special group of “little doctors.” Students from seven Hicksville Elementary schools, who volunteer through the Little Doctors afterschool program, not only served refreshments but also assisted potential donors before clinicians took over the process. “Little Doctors is an opportunity for students to learn the value of volunteerism and the importance of participating in community service,” Fork Lane School Principal Christopher Scardino told the Hicksville Illustrated News.
This Weds., 3/26, raise awareness about the value of afterschool programs and support the Afterschool for America’s Children Act: S. 326!
Every afternoon between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. children nationwide should have the opportunity to participate in engaging afterschool programs that support their learning and development and spark their passions and creativity. In recognition of the afterschool hours of opportunity from 3 to 6 p.m., on 3/26 use your own social media network to promote afterschool and build support for Senate Bill 326—the Afterschool for America’s Children Act.
The bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326 and HR 4086—led by Sens. Boxer, Murkowski and Murray in the Senate and by Reps. Kildee and DeLauro in the House—would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs—by supporting innovative advances that support student success.
Quick ways you can take action!