Next week on Feb. 7, the Afterschool for All Challenge is an opportunity to raise your voice right in your own community to support the quality afterschool and summer learning programs that inspire young people to learn, support working families and keep children safe. Over the last 11 years several thousand parents, educators, young people and afterschool champions have come to Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill to make the case that afterschool, before school and summer learning programs are critical to the success of young people and a lifeline for parents.
This year we are changing it up and not asking advocates to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Afterschool for All Challenge. Because budgets are tight and times are uncertain at afterschool programs we are instead calling on friends of afterschool programs to call, meet in home district offices and email Congress on Afterschool for All Challenge day: Feb. 7, 2013. Here in Washington, we will be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with Congress, as we team up with over 40 state teams who will be in Washington for the conference of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks.
The results of the last 11 years of afterschool advocacy are clear: federal support for afterschool and summer learning through the 21st CCLC has grown—from being able to help 40,000 students access support in 1998 to helping more than 1 million young people last year. We know afterschool works and champions of afterschool are excellent at making the case:
- The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits. (University of California, Irvine, 2007)
- A meta analysis of 68 afterschool studies concluded that high quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior and coursework. Students participating in a high quality afterschool program went to school more, behaved better, received better grades and did better on tests compared to non-participating students. (Durlak, Weissberg & Pachan, 2010)
- The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that students reported improved social and behavioral outcomes: elementary students reported reductions in aggressive behavior toward other students and skipping school; middle school students reported reduced use of drugs and alcohol, compared to their routinely unsupervised peers. (Policy Studies Associates, Inc., 2007)
- Targeted funding through the Department of Justice for evidence-based afterschool and summer learning programs that prevent youth violence, including programs offering physical activity that helps contribute to positive mental health.
- Increase funding for afterschool and summer learning program infrastructure through the Department of Education’s 21st CCLC initiative.
- Holistic measures for students and schools that include their health, safety and education.
- Universal training for personnel who work with youth in schools and community settings.
- Proactive efforts by community organizations, schools and parents, working together to ensure that all children are connected to community in meaningful ways at each stage of development.
The article “Rural After-School Efforts Must Stretch to Serve,” published last week in Education Week, provides a comprehensive look at the challenges and triumphs unique to afterschool programs serving rural areas. Education Week highlighted the rural afterschool programs led by Afterschool Ambassadors Linda Barton of Lander, Wyoming, and Sherry Comer of Camdenton, Missouri.
Many of the funding, staffing and transportation challenges discussed in the article echo the findings of the 2007 issue brief “Afterschool Programs: Helping Kids Succeed in Rural America.” The bipartisan Investment in Rural Afterschool Programs Act, introduced in the 111th Congress in 2009, sought to provide support and address the barriers that confront many rural afterschool programs. This year, as mentioned in the Education Week story, the "Uncertain Times 2012" report found that nearly 4 out of 10 afterschool programs reported that their budgets were worse today than at the height of the recession in 2008, with rural programs hit harder than most. The 113th Congress set to begin next month presents another opportunity for Congress to provide assistance to rural communities and their afterschool programs.
If you didn't get a chance to see Brooklyn Castle in theaters, now you can!
The Afterschool Alliance invites you to join us for a showcase of local afterschool programs and a private screening of Brooklyn Castle this Sunday, December 2. This award-winning documentary tells the story of a chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school—one that has won more national championships than any other in the country—facing recessionary budget cuts to extracurricular activities that threaten to eliminate the chess program.
The story of the I.S. 318 chess team underscores the importance of protecting the programs that keep our kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. The screening will also showcase local programs that will share firsthand the important impact of afterschool.
Bring your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to see the film that critics are hailing as the best documentary of the year, and has been featured on major television networks like Fox News, CBS and MSNBC.
Private screening of Brooklyn Castle
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Sitar Arts Center
1700 Kalorama Road Northwest, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20009
Watch the trailer:
A White House ceremony hosted by Michelle Obama honored 12 community-based afterschool programs that reach underserved youth with national arts and humanities awards. The First Lady said the programs teach kids skills like problem solving, teamwork and self-expression that are also critical in the classroom and workplace. Mrs. Obama also thanked educators, artists and leaders for working with tight budgets and putting in late hours. The 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are hosted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies. This year’s winners were chosen from more than 350 nominations.
Middle school students participating in afterschool programs in Rhode Island have helped design a new video game that promotes healthy relationships and aims to help stop teen dating violence. Sojourner House, an advocacy and resource center in Providence for domestic violence victims, premiered ‘‘The Real Robots of Robot High’’ on Monday at Highlander Charter School. The game and accompanying curriculum were developed by Sojourner House in partnership with afterschool programs in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls; the youth advocacy organization Young Voices; the state education department; and a publisher of ‘‘social impact’’ video games.
About 50 students from Schenectady High School participated in an after school cleanup, which extended beyond school grounds into streets surrounding the campus. The Schenectady high school, which has been listed on the state’s “persistently dangerous” schools list from 2008 to 2011, also viewed the cleanup as a way to revitalize the school’s image. Many of the volunteers were part of clubs such as the Anime Club, Junior ROTC, Key Club, Student Ambassadors, Community Service Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance.
The Atlanta Music Project, which gives quality instruments and daily classical training to more than 87 inner-city children participating in three sites, recently won a $122,801 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the biggest grant in its two-year history. The grant will be used to create the Atlanta Music Project Academy, which will give private lessons to the top 22 players in the project and offer them master classes, opportunities for recitals and quality instruments.
This guest blog was contributed by the Kid Power Inc., VeggieTime program, one of the recipients of the 2012 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards and a program featured in our latest MetLife Foundation issue brief, “Afterschool: A Key to Successful Parent Engagement.” The VeggieTime program hosted a Lights On Afterschool event in October to celebrate their award.
The Lights on Afterschool event showcased the impact of VeggieTime, a Kid Power program where youth study nutrition and the environment, build and maintain schoolyard gardens, and use produce in both cooking classes and as fundraising for service learning projects. VeggieTime encourages family involvement through its gardening and cooking activities, helping both parents and youth make healthy choices for themselves and for their communities. Currently, Kid Power and its VeggieTime participants maintain more than 50 garden beds throughout the city!
The youth investment and youth voice was clearly on display at the Lights On Afterschool event, as students blended Super Smoothies made with kale and berries, discussed the aspects of their business plan for fundraising with vegetables, advocated for nutrition issues and baked kale chips. Guests bounced from station to station as students shared recipes, experiences and healthy living tips.
Program Director and resident emcee Grant Elliott hosted the presentation hour. While final touches were put on the dinner of vegetable pizzas (using Kid Power garden veggies!) provided by FUEL Pizza, guests were treated to a variety of speakers discussing the importance of VeggieTime:
A record-breaking 9,300 Lights On Afterschool events celebrating afterschool programs and young people were held around the country this month. In addition to recognizing the value and impact of afterschool programs on young people and their communities, Lights On Afterschool continued this year to be an opportunity to reach policy makers. Friends of afterschool, including parents and children, sent and made more than 600 emails and phone calls to Members of Congress last week. They also signed an online petition in support of afterschool, and now more than 10,900 individuals have signed on to urge that funding for afterschool programs should not be denied or diverted. Lights On Afterschool events also registered voters and raised awareness about the role elected officials play in supporting afterschool program opportunities for young people.
“In 2001, I wrote legislation that led to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Children who regularly attend these programs have better grades and behavior in school; lower incidences of drug use and pregnancy; and are less likely to be either the perpetrators or victims of crime. Lights On Afterschool highlights the importance of high-quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families, and their communities.”