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AUG
7
2017

IN THE FIELD
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From Alaska to Alabama, working parents count on afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

From Fairbanks to Miami, young people aren’t the only ones to benefit from quality afterschool programs. Millions of parents who would otherwise have to take time off work rely on afterschool programs to provide support for their children until the business day ends. Knowing that their kids are safe and cared for means that these parents can commit themselves fully to their careers during the day, and that peace of mind pays dividends: a study from Catalyst indicates that afterschool programs help save $300 billion per year, thanks to increased worker productivity.

As Lights On Afterschool approaches, working parents come to mind as one of the beneficiaries of afterschool programs across the nation. In Fairbanks, Alaska, Dale credits his daughter’s afterschool program with his daughter’s improved academic performance and his own literally atmospheric career path. With her kids safe and learning in an afterschool program, Kelly in Alabama was able to return to school and continue her college education while working more than 50 hours a week. And Laticia, an afterschool program director in Oklahoma, has a front-row seat of the effect afterschool has on all children—including her own.

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Working Families
AUG
3
2017

POLICY
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You are here: The policy road map to protecting afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

With more than half the calendar year behind us and only two months left in the 2017 federal fiscal year, now is a great time to pause and reflect on the ongoing quest to protect and grow federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs. Much has happened since the March 16 release of the Trump administration’s skinny budget which proposed to eliminate federal 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding for almost 1.6 million students—yet there is still a long way to go.

Making progress

The administration’s FY2018 skinny budget released in mid-March, and the subsequent full budget proposal released in late-May, both proposed to eliminate $1.1 billion in Community Learning Centers funding that allows local afterschool and summer learning providers in all 50 states to offer quality enrichment and academic programming to 1.6 million students in grades K through 12. The Administration justified the proposed elimination of the program by pointing to data from a 12 year old report with flawed methodology that questioned the effectiveness of the program.

The response to the proposed elimination was swift:

  • Since March 1: We've made approximately 71,500 points of contact with Congress -- including calls, emails, and letters
  • March 2017: Multiple summaries of recent Community Learning Centers afterschool evaluations were published, showing widespread positive outcomes in classroom attendance, student behavior, grades and academics, and engagement.
  • Since April 6: At dozens of site visits around the country, members of Congress or their staff were able to meet students, parents, and program staff and see first-hand the impact of Community Learning Centers funded programs
  • April 10: Bipartisan Dear Colleague Letters circulate in Congress and gain signatures from more than 80 Representatives and more than 30 Senators. On the same day, an organizational support letter signed by 1,400 groups and a second support letter signed by 130 public health organizations are released.
  • June 6: During the Afterschool for All Challenge, advocates held more than 250 in-person meetings on Capitol Hill with policymakers.
  • June 28: Multiple briefings are held for Congressional staff, featuring program providers, local elected officials, students and more.

A tremendous thank you to all of the parents, advocates, friends of afterschool, national afterschool and summer learning providers, and supporters that joined together to reach out directly and through stakeholders to provide research and examples of the effectiveness of Community Learning Centers-funded programs. We’ve also seen a flood of media outreach in national and local press.

So... where do we go from here?

AUG
2
2017

RESEARCH
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AFT poll shows opposition to federal funding cuts to education

By Nikki Yamashiro

The clear message coming out of a recent national poll on attitudes toward federal education spending is that voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the federal government cutting funds for public education.

In the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates for the American Federation of Teachers, close to 3 in 4 voters say that they are opposed to the Trump administration’s proposal to cut federal spending on education by 13.5 percent while “cutting taxes for large corporations and wealthy individuals” and 73 percent say that they find this to be an unacceptable way to reduce spending by the federal government. When asked about the proposed elimination of funding for afterschool and summer learning programs, more than 7 in 10 voters responded that it was an unacceptable cut.

AUG
1
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool-law enforcement partnership gives justice-involved youth a new path

By Guest Blogger

By Rachel Willis, research project manager at the Kansas Enrichment Network.

  

After celebrating early successes, the Spartan Explorers afterschool program will continue through the 2017-2018 school year. Begun in January 2017, the program is a partnership between Emporia High School and the Fifth Judicial District Community Corrections in Emporia, Kansas, developed to better engage high school youth who are involved with the judicial system, truant, or on probation.

Both school administrators and community correction officers recognized the need to keep youth safe and busy between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., when juvenile crime is most likely to occur. During the 2017 spring semester, 17 youth attended the program where they were given the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities.

“It was important to connect with the students socially, emotionally and educationally,” says Community Corrections Director Steve Willis.

JUL
28
2017

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: Q&A with an afterschool researcher

By Guest Blogger

In May, the proposed FY2018 budget eliminated funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding stream dedicated to before-school, afterschool, and summer learning programs. In the budget, a justification given for the elimination of funding was that there is no demonstrable evidence that 21st CCLC programs have a positive impact on the students attending the programs. Although we have highlighted the existing body of research underscoring the difference 21st CCLC programs are making in the lives of students participating in programs, we decided to go directly to the source, asking someone who has conducted evaluations on 21st CCLC programs for 14 years. 

We posed a few questions to Neil Naftzger, American Institutes for Research (AIR), about his evaluation work related to 21st CCLC programs specifically, and the afterschool field broadly. Below are answers to two of the questions we asked, with our emphasis added in bold, which establish that there is in fact clear evidence demonstrating that 21st CCLC work for students. 

What are the strongest findings across your research on 21st CCLC programs? Do you see any important non-academic benefits from afterschool and summer learning programs?

JUL
25
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Congratulations to Angela Mamun, winner of the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest

By Charlotte Steinecke

Angela Mamun is a Renaissance woman–or at least she’s learning to be. And she’s found the right afterschool program to help her grow her talents.

“I think to be a good student you have to be good in everything, or at least know how to do everything,” said the 11th grade student at Youth Policy Institute (YPI). The winner of the 2017 Lights On Afterschool poster contest was describing an educational philosophy, but the theory applies to her poster design as well.

“The prompt asked for us to focus on one aspect of the afterschool program, but I thought that I could not focus on just one,” Angela explained. “Every aspect of YPI ties in together, so I felt it was important to incorporate everything. As for the lamp, that would be the lights-on part, and the book and the tree represent that YPI is a place where young minds can grow.”

After reviewing hundreds of applications and posters from across the country, Angela’s design cinched the public’s vote in May, with a final count of 466 Facebook likes and other reactions. The design will be printed on more than 50,000 posters and sent to more than 8,000 programs nationwide—and for the first time ever, the contest winner’s program received a $500 cash prize.

Angela had been at Youth Policy Institute for six months when she entered the Lights On Afterschool poster contest. In addition to providing homework help, tutoring in a range of schoolwork and non-schoolwork subjects, and a safe place for students to go afterschool, YPI offers a STEM club, an arts club, and a club that focuses on volunteering and supporting local immigrant families. All of the clubs are student-led, providing opportunities for students to define their interests and take the lead on making change in their community.

JUL
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Closing the achievement gap for Latino kids

By Guest Blogger

By Diego Uriburu, co-founder and executive director of Identity.

By age 16, Elam had been out of school for two years. Although he’d dropped out of school the first time, he knew he needed to turn his life around and that the best way to do that was to complete his education. Going back to school was extremely difficult, but that’s where Elam found Identity, an organization that provides afterschool programs for low-income Latino students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“I enrolled in school and worked hard, but my passion and my escape was soccer,” Elam says. “That’s how I first met Coach Efrain Viana, who came to school to recruit for the Identity league. What I liked immediately was that everyone got a chance and was treated like family. I wasn’t alone anymore. Identity pushed me to work hard in school as well as on the field, and to take every opportunity presented. Opportunities like college — Coach Efrain connected me with coaches at Washington Adventist University. I started last fall with a full scholarship.”

Elam’s story is just one of the examples of afterschool making a difference to the youth who need it most. But the futures of young people like Elam have been put in jeopardy as the administration moves to eliminate funding for afterschool programs.

JUL
11
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool gave me hope of a future I'd never known

By Guest Blogger

By Aaron Short, assistant head of staff at 21st Cranston Community Learning Center Bain +2/Kidventure Afterschool Program. Aaron attended the Youth Session of the 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge and spoke to his members of Congress about the impact of afterschool on his life.

From the start of my life, I was taught a few things from living in the ghetto of Cranston, Rhode Island: I didn’t have a chance in life outside there; it was okay to join a gang when your family loses everything; and the ghetto will be my life no matter how hard I try. If you asked me where these ideas were picked up, I couldn’t tell you, but it was inescapable.  By the time I was eight, my ex-friends were talking about how much they’ve stolen from grocery stores. Although I didn’t know it at the time, in the fifth grade I saw future gang members starting their careers at the tender age of 10.

My mother worked her hardest to give me a better life, but the mounting costs of daycare and the needs of my newly-born sister kept moving us lower and lower towards poverty. I still remember a point when we were being threatened with eviction because we couldn’t afford to live in our small apartment. My school’s schedule didn’t help the situation, as my mother having to take her lunch break to drop me off at school and had to leave in the middle of the work day to pick me up. And anyone who starts a job with few credentials and leaves halfway through the year can’t hold that job for very long. The choice was simple: I could be safe after school, or we could have dinner.