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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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NOV
11
2014

POLICY
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Lame duck ahead: FY15 spending decisions on the horizon

By Erik Peterson

After more than a month-long recess leading up to the mid-term elections, Members of Congress are back in the Nation’s capitol and will be in session starting on Wednesday, November 12th for a “Lame Duck” session that must finalize the FY 2015 appropriations spending bills to fund federal government operations for the period December 12, 2014, through September 30, 2015. The government is currently funded through a continuing resolution (CR) at FY 2014 levels.

The Bipartisan Budget Act that passed in December 2013 capped discretionary spending at $1.014 trillion in FY 2015 – essentially the mid-point between Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement restored $63 billion in sequestration cuts over two years, split evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending programs. Nondefense discretionary spending (which includes most federal support for afterschool and summer learning programs though the Department of Education and Health and Human Services) is capped at $492.4 billion in FY 2015, however that will change going into FY 2016 at which time nondefense discretionary spending faces a $43 billion (8 percent) cut, unless Congress acts to reverse sequestration.

JAN
14
2013

CHALLENGE
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We're bringing the Afterschool for All Challenge to you!

By Sarah Simpson

This year, we're not asking you to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Afterschool for All Challenge. We polled you, and heard you loud and clear: budgets are tight and times are uncertain at afterschool programs. But it's as important as ever to let Congress know about the need for more afterschool resources for our kids, families and communities.

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: Feb. 7, 2013. Here in Washington, we'll be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with Congress, as we team up with the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks.

On Feb. 7, take the Afterschool for All Challenge at home—we have all the tools you'll need in our Take Action Toolkit! Three easy ways to participate:

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

So what are you waiting for? Add your name now to accept the ChallengeWhen you do, you'll receive personalized tips and information about your Members of Congress

To help you get started, join us throughout the month of January for a webinar series to walk you through how to successfully reach out to your Members of Congress during the Afterschool for All ChallengeRegister now!

MAY
23
2012

CHALLENGE
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From 3pm to Washington, D.C.

By Shaun Gray

Youth are always encouraged to speak up out about what’s important to them.  That’s why during this year’s Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C. we asked young adults to share their afterschool experiences with Members of Congress by sharing personal stories of how afterschool has helped to make some of their dreams a reality.  “I Am a Youth Advocate for Afterschool,” a handout created by Afterschool Alliance staff members Trevor Sparks and Shaun Gray, turned out to be an incredible tool for delivering the message to Congressional members of how effective afterschool programs are in rural and low-income communities. During the Afterschool for All Challenge, while the adults were away, the children played—and learned what happens on Capitol Hill and how social media sites such as Twitter can be an effective tool when advocating for afterschool.

“Dear #Congress, #AfterschoolWorks to inspire learning and create unity in students” tweets 16-year-old Samantha from Texas.   

A spunky 12-year-old named Cabrilla from Duluth, MN, writes a message to Congress on her handout: “To my Congressmen and women I say to RAISE FUNDING because afterschool RULES and lots of kids DEPEND [sic] on afterschool programs...” 

Twenty-four afterschool participants wrote handwritten letters, tweets and stories about how their afterschool program has helped to instill new skills or learn better eating habits and the benefits of physical fitness.  Vanessa, an ambitious 16-year-old and aspiring chef, wouldn’t have had exposure to the kitchen or learn new culinary skills without participating in the Advanced Culinary Program at After School Matters in Chicago, IL.  Others touched on how passionate they have become about community service and helping their peers.  A shy 14-year-old named Aracely sends her personal note: “…I have trouble with science and algebra 1” and LIU 21st CCLC Program “helps me out with that.”  Still others testified that due to their afterschool program they’ve become more globally competent through their international afterschool club.
 
Armed with stories and experiences of youth from afterschool programs far and near, the afterschool advocates stormed Congressional offices on May 9 with their voices in support of afterschool and their handouts to leave behind with Members after their meetings.  Their handouts will have a lasting effect on Congressional members, staff and with the youth themselves, who learned that they are advocates every day that they speak in support of their program.  

Patricia tweets “#Congress. Help keep kids safe. Support afterschool programs across the nation.”  I hope Congress is reading.

MAY
24
2011

CHALLENGE
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The Afterschool for All Challenge: A Research Perspective

By Chris D'Agostino

Now that I can finally catch my breath after an exciting two days of afterschool advocacy, I thought it would be good time to share myAfterschool for All Challenge experience. This year, I ran and participated in two workshop sessions at the Challenge: “Middle School Innovation: Policy and Practice” and “Become an Afterschool Expert”.  Both sessions were well attended with full rooms of over 60 people each, and the attendees were highly engaged in the issues at hand, making for two great research-focused sessions. 

During the morning session, “Middle School Innovation: Policy and Practice,” I was joined by three program directors from our 2010 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winners: Rob Abbott (CHENY Beacon), Molly Calhoun (Bridge Project) and Jim Pugliese (LeAp 22).  In the role of moderator, I discussed major policy initiatives relevant to middle school programs including the recently re-introduced Success in the Middle Act, which is sponsored by one of our afterschool champions this year, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  Additionally, I discussed some middle school-specific research that could help make the case for an increase in middle school programs across the country.  After a brief discussion amongst the session’s participants about the challenges the middle grades bring to afterschool care providers and a viewing of an Edutopia video concerning the successful Providence Afterschool Alliance After Zones initiative, I then introduced our first speaker: Rob Abbott, the Director of Youth and Family Services at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation in Brooklyn, NY, who helps to run the Cypress Hills/East New York (CHENY) Beacon afterschool program and talked about his role in the program and the Beacon’s innovative and comprehensive model. Next, Molly Calhoun, executive director of the Bridge Project in Denver, CO, talked about her STEM-related afterschool offerings at Bridge, including the use of digital technology to document science experiments.  Molly also discussed the student-centered approach at Bridge, providing children with a number of different opportunities to grow through project-based learning.  Finally, Jim Pugliese from LeAp 22’s art program in Bronx, NY, discussed how to start a successful afterschool program, stressing that patience and determination are the keys to quality.  Jim also described the importance of instilling a passion for learning and discovery in children so that they remain engaged in their education.  All three of the presenters were truly enlightening and provided the attendees with a rich knowledge base of how an effective middle school program is run.

MAY
23
2011

CHALLENGE
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The Afterschool for All Challenge: A Policy Perspective

By Erik Peterson

What happens when you bring to the nation’s capital 350 parents, young people, educators, community leaders and program directors, all of whom are passionate about afterschool programs?  Quite a bit.  As a result of the Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C., this week, the policy goal of advancing afterschool for all got a substantial boost:

  • Advocates from over 40 states met with 220 Members of Congress and their staff, both in D.C. as well as in the home districts of a number of Members, supporting a federal investment in afterschool programs.  
  • Over 22 Members of the House of Representatives signed a Dear Colleague letter supporting the President’s request of $100 million increase for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative in the FY2012 budget.
  • Sen. Boxer, chair of the Afterschool Caucus, along with Sens. Begich, Murray, Shaheen and Whitehouse and Rep. Cicilline, all spoke passionately at the “Breakfast of Champions” about the value of afterschool programs and the positive influence these programs have on the behavioral and academic sides of young people.  
  • Over 140 e-mails and faxes were sent to Members of Congress on Tuesday by advocates who did not attend the Afterschool For All Challenge.
  • Important afterschool policy issues were raised with Members of Congress: a strengthened 21st CCLC as part of the ESEA reauthorization process, STEM education afterschool and better access to federal background checks for staff and volunteers.  
  • Feedback from the many meetings with Members of Congress continues to roll in, with a large majority indicating their support for continued federal funding of afterschool programs.

A hearty thank you to all who participated, both in person and virtually.  There is still much to do and many tools available to those who wish to make a difference right now!

MAY
20
2011

CHALLENGE
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Announcing the 2011 Afterschool for All Champions

By Ursula Helminski

A very big congratulations to the 2011 “Afterschool for All” Champions!

Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST afterschool program and inventor of the Segway, received the 2011 National Afterschool Champion Award at the 10th annual Afterschool for All Challenge for his work advocating for improved teaching of science and technology and his efforts to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology through the FIRST programs. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” Founded in 1989, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education andcareer opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills. Children from K-12 work on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects, building robots to compete against other students' creations. U.S. Senator Jean Shaheen (NH) presented the Award.  (Kamen and Sen. Shaheen pictured with kids presenting the award at top.)

MAY
18
2011

CHALLENGE
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The 10th Afterschool for All Challenge: Two Days, 220 Members of Congress

By Ursula Helminski

We just wrapped up the 10th annual Afterschool for All Challenge, and I’m feeling incredibly grateful. More than 350 parents, youth, educators and advocates--spanning 40 states--came to the nation’s Capital for our two-day gathering, and met face-to-face with more than 200 Members of Congress and their staff to urge them to preserve funding for afterschool programs and support efforts to expand opportunities for afterschool students to engage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning.  

It was great to see long-standing supporters of afterschool programs, and to welcome many new faces, as we expanded our reach to the STEM community for this year’s event.  STEM learning in afterschool was a theme running throughout all our sessions, and served as the centerpiece of our gala “Breakfast of Champions,” where Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and inventor of the Segway, was honored as the 2011 national afterschool champion. Nine state afterschool champions were also recognized.  (Kamen is pictured with his award to the left, on his right is Jodi Grant,  and on his left afterschool youth and Sen. Shaheen of NH.)

APR
5
2011

CHALLENGE
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What's in Store at the Afterschool for All Challenge

By Rivka Burstein-Stern

The Afterschool for All Challenge is a little over a month away and our team at the Afterschool Alliance is in high gear preparing an awesome two days of learning, discussion, networking, advocacy and celebration.  So what do we have in store?  Here are some exciting highlights:

On May 16, workshops will include:

  • What Will the 112th Congress Mean for Afterschool Programs?  This session will offer an insider look at the current federal budget/policy situation.  If you’re tired of trying to keep up with all the talk of a government shutdown, short term and long term spending bills, FY11 and FY12 budgets, ESEA Reauthorization, etc. etc., but want to know what all this mess means for your program, then this is the session for you!  The workshop will feature Congressional staff as well as the Afterschool Alliance’s government relations team.  They’ll give you the inside scoop and let you know how you can make an impact.

  • Facing Budget Cuts? How to Mobilize Support in Your Community.  Everywhere you look these days you see cuts, cuts and more cuts, but we know that when budgets are tight, afterschool programs are more important than ever! So how do you communicate that message in a compelling and enduring manner?  I wish I knew.  JUST KIDDING!  Come to our session on mobilizing your community in the face of budget cuts and hear from public relations, media and messaging aficionados!

  • Afterschool Health and Wellness: New Developments, Resources and Funding Opportunities.  Concern over youth health and wellness, specifically the childhood obesity epidemic, has reached a fever pitch.  Increasingly people are looking to before school, afterschool and summer programs to provide physical activity, healthy food and nutrition education.  This session will feature key national leaders working on this issue, including Robin Schepper, executive director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative and Dr. Georgia Hall of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time.