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APR
11
2016

RESEARCH
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Upcoming research webinars: Year-round literacy opportunities and rural afterschool

By Nikki Yamashiro

In addition to rain showers, April also brings two exciting new webinars to build on the most recent Afterschool Alliance research materials. We hope that you will tune in for one, or both!  

The first webinar, Creating Year-Round Opportunities for Literacy, will occur on Wednesday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m. EST, and feature two programs included in the newly released issue brief, Taking a Year-Round Approach to Literacy—one of which is the 2016 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award Winner. If you are interested in learning more about the variety of ways programs are helping to build students’ reading, writing and critical thinking skills during the school year and summer months, this webinar is for you. Redhound Enrichment, an afterschool program located in Corbin, Kentucky, and Simpson Street Free Press, located in sites across Dane County, Wisconsin, will discuss their approach to integrate literacy into their programming, how they develop their students’ literacy skills, and the ways in which they create meaningful connections to literacy among their students.

The second webinar, Afterschool in Rural Communities: What You Need to Know, on Thursday, April 28 at 1:00 p.m. EST, follows the release of the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM special report, The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural Communities. In addition to sharing key findings from the report on the state of afterschool in rural America, guest speakers on this webinar will share systems of support in place at the state level, promising practices and key strategies to address the challenges unique to afterschool programs in rural communities.

We also want to hear from you! If you have two minutes to spare, fill out this short, two question survey to let the speakers on this webinar know what topics would be most helpful. Help us tailor this webinar to fit your needs.

Additionally, check out our webinars page! Our webinar calendar for the month of April is jam-packed with great subject matter—covering our upcoming Afterschool for All Challenge and the Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by the National Academies of Sciences.

APR
8
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: ZooCrew empowers youth to tackle conservation issues

By Erin Murphy

Written by Ryan Driscoll, Science Education Outreach Coordinator for ZooCrew. This blog post is presented as part of a series celebrating afterschool programs involved in environmental education, with more installments coming throughout April! Join the conversation about afterschool's role in environmental education on social media with #AfterschoolEE.

Conservation issues can be difficult to address with secondary students. These students have reached the age when they are ready dive into challenging topics like deforestation and poaching, but exploring the complexity of these issues can be messy. Woodland Park Zoo’s afterschool program, ZooCrew, helps students examine these complicated issues and generate solutions to address the varying concerns. Throughout this process, we are always amazed at our students’ eagerness and ability to grapple with these topics, and at the ingenuity and creativity of their solutions.

Learning through exploring

ZooCrew partners with Seattle Parks and Recreation to serve youth from four traditionally underserved middle schools, engaging around 150 students each year in weekly two-hour sessions. In groups of 10 to 20, we confront real-world conservation issues, prepare students for continued involvement in Woodland Park Zoo’s youth programs and inspire youth to consider a broad range of STEM or conservation careers.

Each term, ZooCrew students explore a conservation issue in a selected ecosystem. From the tropical rain forest to the Pacific Northwest, ZooCrew youth learn about current issues affecting these biomes like wildlife poaching, climate change, and deforestation. With help from teen volunteers from our ZooCorps program, students create projects to support ongoing conservation efforts, generate new solutions and advocate for action in their community. They also take two field trips each quarter, participating in restoration work at a local park or green space and visiting the zoo to share their projects with parents, zoo staff and fellow students.

The diverse projects that students can pursue offer room for creativity to apply what they learn. For example, this fall we focused on the complex issue of poaching in the African savanna. After learning about the savanna ecosystem, we delved into various perspectives around poaching and held a mock summit to recognize the difficulty of finding solutions that consider everyone involved. Students used this experience to create a wide variety of anti-poaching projects. Some students supported conservation programs through citizen science apps, while others designed robotic Egyptian tortoises to help stem the illegal pet trade, or created faux poached items to reduce market demand. Still others designed an educational video game to teach people about the impacts of poaching.

APR
7
2016

FUNDING
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Help your students join science competitions through a new grant opportunity!

By Melissa Ballard

Conducting authentic science research is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn the true nature of science and experience the thrill of discovery. By entering science research competitions, students gain additional skills such as learning how to present their work to peers, scientists, and the public. Unfortunately, applying to and participating in science competitions can be intimidating and challenging for many students, especially for those underrepresented in STEM fields.

To address this challenge, the Society for Science & the Public (SSP) developed the Society Advocates Grant, which provides a $3,000 stipend to an individual, such as an afterschool educator or community mentor, who will serve as an advocate for 3-5 underrepresented students, helping them transition from conducting a scientific research project to completing applications for scientific competitions. No prior experience is required for students—it can be their very first time completing a science experiment for competition!

Advocates support their students by informing them about potential competitions, prompting them on deadlines, and supporting them through the process of gathering and producing the required elements of an application. SSP will provide advocates with information on major science competitions, as well as regional and local fairs. SSP will also host a convening event to help grantees become more comfortable with the process (all expenses paid).

The grant is open to anyone who is interested in applying. Applications are due April 13th, 6 p.m. EST.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Science
APR
6
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 6, 2016

By Luci Manning

‘This Is Greenwood’s Book:’ Kids Help Neighborhood Heal After Blast (Seattle Times, Washington)

After the Greenwood neighborhood suffered a gas explosion that leveled two buildings and damaged more than 50 others last month, an afterschool writing and tutoring program is joining in the repair efforts. Kids in the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas (BFI) program had been collecting stories and poems about Greenwood to fill their “Encyclopedia Greenwoodia,” an anthology dedicated to the neighborhood, and will now donate all proceeds from the book’s sale to the Greenwood Relief Fund to help repair damage from the explosion. BFI executive director Teri Hein said that, given the nature of the anthology, it was only natural that the proceeds should go back to the community. “It’s a love letter to Greenwood,” she told the Seattle Times.  

Granby High Program to Get Girls in Engineering Is Growing (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)

An engineering afterschool program at Granby High School is giving girls the confidence to program robots, develop their own engineering designs and plan their future careers. Career and technical education teacher Roger Lagesse started the Girls in Engineering Program four years ago and has since seen interest in the program spike dramatically, even leading to the introduction of an all-girls introductory engineering class at the high school. “We had three percent females in the engineering courses four years ago, and now it’s up to 20 percent,” he told the Virginian-Pilot.

After-School Programs Worth the Investment (Santa Barbara Independent, California)

Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr. is working with the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation and the Chumash Tribe to make afterschool swimming lessons available to kids throughout the community. He took to the Santa Barbara Independent to argue why these afterschool programs deserve support: “To do away with our culture of inactivity and promote a culture of health, we need to encourage children to make physical activities a part of their regular routine, just like washing their hands and brushing their teeth. We need more programs… to provide safe spaces for kids to exercise and play in the hours after school…. Shorting kids the opportunity to be physically active, healthy and happy is woefully short-sighted.” 

Pupils Get Some Pre-Med Perspective (Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska)

University of Nebraska at Omaha medical student Seif Nasir wishes he had known more about his chosen field when he was younger, so he and colleague Jenna Christensen are working to spread some medical school insight to high schoolers throughout the city, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The pair recently presented before Omaha Westside’s afterschool medical club, discussing the academic rigors involved in preparing for, getting accepted to and progressing through medical school. They also introduced the high school freshmen to some of the health care career options they might pursue once they finish their education. 

APR
4
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Building community partnerships by finding common ground

By Robert Abare

Written by Rhetta Hunyady, the Vice President of Education and Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which administers YouthQuest, a high-quality afterschool program serving more than 2,000 students in Flint and Genesee County, Michigan. For more information, visit www.yquest.org.

In today’s hyper-connected world, it seems as though developing community partnerships would be relatively easy. Just hop on the phone, shoot an email or send out a Tweet and boom—partnership initiated.

In reality, the process is a bit more involved. It’s not enough to call a local organization and say, “Here’s how you can help us.” You need to be able to add, “Here’s how we can help you.”

At YouthQuest, we work with several community partners who help us serve more than 2,000 students in Genesee County, Michigan. One partnership that immediately comes to mind is the one we share with The Whiting, a Flint-based performing arts venue that has provided our students with free admission to artist performances including Blue Man Group and Black Violin.

These excursions help YouthQuest provide more robust programming, a key element of which is cultural enrichment. And just as we benefit, so do our friends at The Whiting, whose mission is to serve local students and their families throughout their presentation season.

So how do you determine what your “win-win” opportunities are?

To begin, know what it is you want. Once you find an organization or business that offers services or programming that fit that vision, set up a meeting to discuss what that agency’s mission, vision and values are.

From there, brainstorm ways your program can address their needs, be it helping the organization fulfill their social responsibility goals for the year or building their brand by sharing photos and news on social media.

In many ways, building partnerships is similar to fundraising or financial development. You have to make connections and build relationships to understand how and where your goals overlap.

Last Thursday Sharri Newman, YouthQuest’s Program Director, discussed forming successful partnerships by co-leading the Knitting Effective Partnerships workshop during the Ready by 21 National Meeting in Baltimore. Efforts like these to strengthen organizations' and afterschool programs' abilities to form strong partnerships help everyone—students, families, programs and communities.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Community Partners
APR
4
2016

CHALLENGE
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Will you accept the Afterschool for All Challenge?

By Erik Peterson

Senator Barbara Boxer of California greets participants of last year's Afterschool for All Challenge.

On May 24, 2016, hundreds of afterschool advocates and youth will be bringing their powerful stories to Capitol Hill for the 16th annual Afterschool for All Challenge. We know it is difficult to travel to Washington, D.C. to make your voice heard, so we are bringing the advocacy opportunity to you with the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge, in which you can participate from your own community or computer!

Join us for the Afterschool for All Challenge: Take Action At Home webinar on Tuesday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET to learn more about how you can participate and make your voice heard. The webinar will feature soon-to-be-released advocacy tools that will help you make the case for afterschool.

Congress needs to hear from you. 

You are the local experts on afterschool, so we're asking you to call, meet and email Congress on Afterschool for All Challenge day: May 24, 2016. Here in Washington, we'll be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with key Members of Congress.

On May 24, take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge at home—our upcoming Take Action Toolkit will have all the resources you'll need! Here are three easy ways to participate:

  1. Meet with your Congressional district offices or set up a site visit at your program.
  2. Call, tweet or email Congress and ask them to support funding for the afterschool programs working families rely on.
  3. Encourage your contacts to take action.

To help you get started, join us on April 12th for a webinar to walk you through how to successfully reach out to your Members of Congress with key messages during the virtual Afterschool for All ChallengeRegister now!

APR
1
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Help us celebrate environmental education this month!

By Erin Murphy

The Afterschool Alliance is excited to announce that throughout April we will be celebrating environmental education! Our goal is to highlight the work that afterschool programs do to address the importance of environmental education by showcasing how programs are engaging students to think critically about the environment—both locally and globally.

As part of this campaign, we will be celebrating Earth Day by hosting a tweet chat to discuss the importance of environmental education, the current state of environmental education in afterschool, and how programs and individuals can support this mission. Sign up to join us on April 22 at 2 p.m. ET.

Additionally, we have registered our events as part of the National Environmental Education Foundation’s (NEEF) Environmental Education Week (EE Week 2016). This will be the 12th annual EE Week working to inspire environmental learning among K-12 students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Get involved with environmental education:

  • Check out our favorite environmental education resources.
  • Send us a tweet @afterschool4all using the hashtag #AfterschoolEE and share what afterschool programs can do to support environmental education, what your program is doing, and what your favorite environmental resources and activities are.
  • Learn more about our Earth Day tweet chat on April 22 at 2 p.m. ET and sign up to join us and a panel of environmental education experts for a conversation about environmental education in afterschool.
  • Keep checking the Afterschool Snack for a blog series where programs like the Washington ZooCrew will share their experiences and advice on how to implement environmental education into afterschool programs.
  • Register your events, field trips or projects happening on or around April 17 to 23 as EE Week events.
MAR
31
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Share your insights to keep kids healthy for years to come

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is conducting a survey on afterschool meals to better understand the challenges facing the field—and the health of our nation’s children.

It’s difficult to face the facts about childhood obesity in the United States. Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents, according to the CDC, and more than 1 in 3 kids are currently overweight or obese. Furthermore, close to 16 million children live in households that are considered “food-insecure,” meaning they lack consistent access to food.

While obesity leads to a number of health problems, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, food insecurity creates systemic obstacles for families and communities by leading children to choose foods that are less nutritious and binge eat when food becomes available.

Afterschool programs play a major role in promoting healthy lifestyles for our children. Many afterschool and summer learning programs offer physical activities, serve healthy snacks and meals, and lead kids through hands-on lessons in nutrition.

Your input leads to better practices

To better understand the obstacles that face programs providing healthy food to their participants, the Afterschool Alliance is partnering with Share Our Strength to survey afterschool providers about the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals.

Click here to take the survey—a few minutes of your time could benefit the health of children for years to come. The survey should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes of your time, and your answers will not be attributed to you or your organization.

The Afterschool Alliance's efforts to increase afterschool and summer meal participation are made possible in part by the generous support of the Food Research and Action Center and the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness