STEM, child care & federal policy filled the agenda when state afterschool networks came to Washington
Late last month, leaders from more than 40 state afterschool networks, including representatives from state education agencies, gathered for several days in Washington, D.C., for a national convening: “Expanded Learning Opportunities: STEM Programs and Systems.”
The convening, co-hosted by the Department of Education, the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, focused on creating positive STEM outcomes for more students through collaboration and cooperation among national, state and local partners. Sessions allowed network leaders and education officials to work together to consider how to leverage investments and actions to expand the availability of quality informal science in afterschool and impact more students across the country.
Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton opened the conference with a well-received talk on the partnerships necessary to generate the best possible STEM outcomes in young people. Stating that learning occurring after school is just as essential as learning taking place during the school day, the deputy secretary demonstrated his understanding of the depth and power of informal STEM education occurring in quality afterschool programs.
Over the past 14 years, Lights On Afterschool has grown into a national celebration that has been embraced by thousands of cities and communities across the country. That’s because there’s a growing class of mayors and local policy makers who know that afterschool programs are important for the kids, families and communities they serve. According to a report from the Wallace Foundation, two-thirds of mayors and city managers have embraced coordinated citywide afterschool systems as a way to support local afterschool program improvement and sustainability.
Lights On Afterschool gives communities an opportunity to show off the high bar of quality in afterschool programs in their city andis a great way to build public will and generate demand among parents and kids for quality afterschool programs, as well as cultivate city champions who can advocate on their behalf. In the past, we’ve seen afterschool programs host citywide events that include countless rallies at city hall and other landmarks, a fireworks display in Evansville, Indiana, and even a flash mob at a Denver Nuggets game.
By Sarah Keller
It's been 10 days since the government shutdown began, and with Congress still deadlocked over a Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2014, afterschool programs around the country are starting to feel the effect. From the National Park Service to USDA nutrition programs and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), local media have uncovered how the shutdown of a diverse set of federal programs is negatively impacting children served by community afterschool programs:
- Aviator Sports and Events Center, located inside Gateway National Recreation Area, a National Park Service area in Brooklyn, has been deemed non-essential and thus closed since the shutdown began. This has caused the families of the 35 children attending the program rushing to find alternative arrangements.
- AmeriCorps VISTA members, who work at nonprofits aimed at reducing poverty while living on a poverty-level salary for a year, receive their salary in part through the CNCS—unavailable while the shutdown continues. The local CBS affiliate in northern Nevada reports how the Reno Bike Project afterschool program’s VISTA is affected by the shutdown.
As many of you know, NASA offers a great deal of exciting resources for educators to use in afterschool settings. However, professional development to build the capacity and confidence of afterschool educators is often a huge need for afterschool STEM programs. So here's your chance to tell NASA what your resource and professional development needs are as an informal science educator!
NASA’s Informal Education Working Group has developed a survey to assess the STEM resource and professional development needs of informal educators. The results of the survey will help NASA's Science Mission Directorate Education and Public Outreach community better meet those needs and plan future opportunities for the informal education community.
The survey was designed with the following definitions of informal educators and informal education in mind:
Informal educators offer children and adults learning opportunities outside of formal schooling. Informal education is learning that is voluntary, self-directed, motivated by personal needs and interests, and provided by a variety of organizations, such as museums, after school settings, parks, libraries, and other settings. For the purposes of this survey, interpretation is considered a particular methodology of informal education and therefore, interpreters are welcome to respond to the survey.
We’re excited to announce that the hit documentary Brooklyn Castle will help kick off the Lights On Afterschool season with its national broadcast debut tonight on the award-winning PBS series POV.
Check local listings to find when it’s airing near you.
Tune in to your local PBS station tonight for the premiere of this award-winning documentary, which tells the inspirational 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.
With help from PBS, afterschool programs can show the film at local Lights on Afterschool events to entertain and engage adults and teens, or use trailers to help make the afterschool story come alive and spur conversation on the need for afterschool in local communities.
Every day in communities across the country, there are countless unsung heroes working tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of the children and families they serve. Among them are the mentors, volunteers, staff and other educators that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families during the hours after school and over the summer.
We might not always get the opportunity to thank them, but this fall, we’re teaming up with Bright House Networks to celebrate Lights On Afterschool by shining a light on the afterschool and summer learning programs that are making a difference.
Your program could win up to $2,000 in the Lights On Afterschool Facebook Photo Contest! Starting tomorrow, submit a photo that creatively shines a light on your program and the afterschool activities and staff that enrich and inspire the students and families in your community. Be as creative as possible—the four photos with the highest number of likes will win cash prizes for their afterschool program!