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AUG
19

LIGHTS ON
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"What the heck are all these light bulbs about?"

By Rachel Clark

One of the 50 light bulb sculptures on display across Lincoln, NE. Photo via Public Art Lincoln.

To celebrate 25 years of successful outcomes and illuminate the need for quality afterschool programs in Lincoln and across the country, Nebraska’s Lighthouse afterschool program took on an ambitious project spanning several months and more than 3,000 miles.

Partnering with nationally recognized artist Liz Shea-McCoy, Lighthouse commissioned 50 light bulb sculptures to be placed across the city of Lincoln. To take the project nationwide, Michener took the art show on the road last week, hauling a six-foot-tall, 2,500-pound light bulb sculpture from Lincoln all the way to Edison, NJ—home of the Edison Museum, which pays tribute to the light bulb’s creator, Thomas Edison. Michener made stops in Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York before arriving in Edison, generating curiosity and discussion every stop of the way.

Michener wanted to get people to ask a simple question: “What the heck are all these light bulbs about?”

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learn more about: Arts Community Partners
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AUG
19

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 19, 2015

By Luci Manning

The STEM Gap (Los Angeles Times, California)

In the Los Angeles Times, Education Secretary Arne Duncan writes about the future of STEM education: “Across the country, there are disparities in students’ access to the full range of math and science courses… [But] I’m optimistic about the future of STEM teaching and learning, in California and throughout the country. The Galt Joint Union Elementary School District… is increasing access to STEM with after-school clubs that offer virtual courses in subjects such as mechanical engineering…. Additionally, four of the nation’s largest youth development organizations – Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc., YMCA and the National 4-H Council – are establishing a partnership to ignite the interest of traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM. This partnership will provide low-income and minority students and young girls with access to mobile STEM labs, science expos and STEM-themed summer camps.”

Program Helps Immigrant Children Hone Language, Cultural Skills (Columbus Dispatch, Ohio)

For almost ten years, Columbus State Community College has been working with immigrant and refugee children in an afterschool and summer program to help them overcome the barriers they face after coming to the U.S. Kids receive help with reading, writing and homework, while also playing games, touring colleges and going on field trips. “It’s as much teaching them life skills and having fun as it is about the academics,” Allison Wannemacher, site specialist for the Wedgewood Village Apartments branch of the program, told the Columbus Dispatch. The program also offers ESL classes, health and nutrition workshops, interpretation/translation services and social-service referrals for parents.

New Flyers Coach Gives Back to Community at Youth Hockey Clinic (Philadelphia Daily News, Pennsylvania)

Eighth- and ninth-graders of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation were visited by a special guest the other day – new Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol. He advised the students on how to translate lessons learned in hockey to the rest of their life. At Snider Hockey’s After School Excellence Program, student-athletes receive educational help and get to spend time improving their hockey skills. “I think, probably, as a young person, you walk away from here each and every day feeling like you’ve accomplished something,” Hakstol told the Philadelphia Daily News. “And I think that’s something that really helps a young person grow and feel good about themselves.” The program is free for students who maintain a C grade average and complete 15 hours of community service.

Student Scientists Show NASA They Have the Right Stuff (Hometown Life, Michigan)

Four students from the Hicks Elementary School Bright Futures afterschool program impressed NASA engineers by creating a multiple purpose crew vehicle (MPCV) to return astronauts home safely from a mission. The students designed, tested and marketed the vehicle as part of the NASA/U.S. Department of Education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Challenge, a program meant to increase and support public engagement of youth in STEM. The elementary students constructed their MPCV using aluminum foil, bubble wrap, a paper bag and pipe cleaners, then tested it by dropping it from various heights. “This was a way to engage students,” Eastern Michigan University 21st Century Community Learning Centers assistant director Maria Mitter told Hometown Life. “They did real work and realized how exciting science can be.” 

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learn more about: Department of Education Health and Wellness NASA Science
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AUG
17

POLICY
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Iowa on the federal role for children in 2016

By Jillian Luchner

What does Iowa think about 2016?

Every Child Matters and the Child and Family Policy Center released the top line results of a poll of Iowan voters collecting popular opinion on child and family issues. A full 65% of voters were “very” or “mostly skeptical” that our children’s generation will have a better life than our own. Perhaps this is why they also recognized how important it is to invest in our children today. 84% would like to see sustained (32%) and increased (52%) federal investments in children’s health, education and nutrition.

Additional findings:

  • 77% of voters believe improving health, education and well-being of children is a high priority for the president to address.
  • 62% said they would be favorably impressed by a candidate who made afterschool a major element of their agenda. When split by gender, 66% of women and 58% of men agreed.
  • 67% reported a favorable impression towards a candidate prioritizing child care assistance for working families, and 77% felt strongly about support for child abuse prevention.
  • When asked if the federal government ought to focus more on the needs of children or the elderly, 53% of voters said children, while 24% said elderly. Even among those 65 and older, 49% preferred a focus on children rather than the elderly (22%).

Elevating children’s issues in the contest for the presidency is essential to protecting children’s programs and supports once a new candidate takes office. The Afterschool Alliance has published some good practices to keep election conversations focused on opportunities for our kids.

In the meantime, be sure to email Congress and urge them to invest in our country's future!

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learn more about: Federal Policy
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AUG
14

LIGHTS ON
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Looking for a bright idea for your Lights On Afterschool event? Take part in 4-H NYSD!

By Rachel Clark

On October 22, a million people will come together at thousands of events across the country to shine a light on the need for quality afterschool programs. We want this to be the biggest and best Lights On Afterschool yet, so we need you to register your event and commit to keeping the Lights On!

If you’re still looking for a great idea for your celebration, why not try incorporating STEM with 4-H National Youth Science Day? Every year, 4-H NYSD offers an interactive learning experience to engage thousands of youth nationwide in conducting the National Science Experiment. This year, the national 4-H NYSD event will take place on October 7—but you can also incorporate it into your Lights On Afterschool event!

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
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AUG
13

STEM
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Guest blog: Afterschool robotics, down under

By Rachel Clark

Photo via Camdenton 4-H FIRST LASER 3284 Robotics.

Sherry Comer is an Afterschool Ambassador Emeritus and Director of Afterschool Services in Camdenton, Missouri.

It was a “g’day” for the Camdenton R-III Afterschool Services department when they were notified that one of their five FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams had been selected to be the Missouri FTC team representing FIRST® Robotics at an international level at the Asia Pacific tournament in Sydney, Australia, in July. Their selection was even more special because this small group of students was made up of 7th and 8th graders, even though most FTC teams are made up of 9-12th graders.

Camdenton is located in central Missouri in the heart of Lake of the Ozarks. This small town of 3,200 is tucked away in the hills where little industry exists and the economy relies heavily on tourism dollars earned in the summer to survive the winter months. The Camdenton R-III School system covers a massive area of 372 square miles. Bus rides to and from school can be more than 45 minutes one way. Camdenton founded an afterschool program 16 years ago after being awarded a federal 21st CCLC grant. The program has grown significantly over the years and now serves almost a quarter of the 4,200 K-12 student population through its innovative afterschool programs. About 7 percent of our afterschool children participate on one of the LASER (Laker Afterschool Science Engineering and Robotics) FIRST® teams in grades 2-12. 

As the Director of Afterschool Services, I was thrilled that students were able to experience new cultures, and that they worked hard to figure out how to communicate with international teams whose members didn’t speak English, so that they could work in alliances to compete. It was definitely a culture shock for the majority of our students. Several of them had never flown and only one had traveled outside the United States. Students had to quickly adapt to learn to exchange money, to walk on the opposite side of the sidewalk, and to find ways to communicate. They quickly realized food looks and tastes different around the world. 

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learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Guest Blog Robotics Science
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AUG
12

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 12, 2015

By Luci Manning

New Nonprofit 4thQTR Mentors Middle School Students Through Football (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

A pair of 20-something fitness buffs are helping young boys and girls avoid trouble and bad habits by teaching sports and mentoring them through the pivotal moments of their youth. Mark Covington and Justin Guy’s nonprofit 4thQTR Inc. uses sports as a vehicle to impart life lessons like leadership, teamwork and dedication. In the weekly afterschool program, kids exercise and run football drills while also receiving brotherly advice and homework help. The program focuses on four main areas: academic excellence, drug and alcohol awareness, healthy habits and leadership skills. But the founders see mentorship as the core of the program. “We think that if the support is coming from young mentors who really believe in you, that no matter what you want to be, a plumber or a football player or whatever, you’ll want to be the best you can be,” Covington told the Baltimore Sun.

Orchestra Opens Doors for Aspiring Musicians (Beloit Daily News, Wisconsin)

The Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra is using music to stem summer learning loss for Beloit students. The orchestra hosts a four-day Summer Music Mini-camp to promote music education and teach life lessons to around 50 students this summer. “We teach teamwork how to work well together,” treasurer and orchestra co-founder Carol Roy told the Beloit Daily News. “(These) things that aren’t an exact science.” The camp provides scholarships so that students of diverse backgrounds and demographics can participate. Roy and the other co-founders hope to expand the program and eventually foster an international music exchange program.

Tower Street Community Center Program Fights Learning Loss (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

Students in the summer learning program at Tower Street School have been building, gardening, acting, solving math problems and reading all day throughout the summer to keep up their academic skills before school starts this fall. On a recent day, all their activities were water-focused – several students developed a water table while another built a boat out of a soda bottle, cardboard and bubble wrap. In teacher Marie Hoffmann’s math class, she shows her students how youngsters around the country are using math to make a difference in their communities. “I want our students to make connections, feel empowered and know that they can do it, too,” she told the Westerly Sun. “So we take math equations and put them into a bigger context.”

Teen’s Army of Tutors Helps Mold Baltimore’s Neediest Pupils (Washington Post)

The nonprofit U.S. Dream Academy’s Baltimore chapter was struggling to engage the area’s impoverished students – until 18-year-old Zach Azrael stepped in. Azrael recruited a group of teen volunteers eager to tutor underserved children in exchange for service learning hours, and now the afterschool Tutoring Outreach Program (TOP) is blossoming with 11 themed clubs and activities. The volunteers collaborate with younger students on robotics, art, athletics, music, technology, world culture, food and film, while also helping with the kids’ math and reading homework. It’s making a world of difference for the youths, who had often struggled in school. “Sometimes, kids don’t believe in themselves because they’re getting bad grades,” 15-year-old Isaiah House, Azrael’s tutee, told the Washington Post. “But when something difficult is broken down to the smallest possible level in a way they understand, they start to get it.”

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Summer Learning Arts
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AUG
12

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating the power of national service in helping kids succeed

By Rachel Clark

During the month of August, the Corporation for National and Community Service is celebrating the work national service programs do to help kids succeed in school. We’re joining them to celebrate our dedicated team of AmeriCorps VISTAs, who work tirelessly to ensure that all kids have access to quality afterschool, as well as to provide healthy afterschool meals and to increase afterschool STEM opportunities.

To keep kids’ bellies full and minds ready to learn, New Jersey meals VISTA Erin Moran has helped pilot Newark, N.J.’s new “Lunch and Learn” program, giving Newark kids an opportunity to receive a free healthy meal and participate in an engaging enrichment activity to curb summer learning loss. In nearby Jersey City, VISTA member Orlane Baghana had monumental success in recruiting summer learning sites to enroll in the Summer Food Service Program—through her outreach efforts, more than 80 summer learning sites have been approved to receive summer meals. That equates to more than 2700 students receiving healthy meals this summer!

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance Nutrition Science Service Summer Learning Sustainability Vista
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AUG
7

POLICY
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1,500 organizations from all 50 states endorse Summer Meals Act

By Erik Peterson

Photo via USDA.

As the Senate Agriculture Committee develops its child nutrition reauthorization bill, the Afterschool Alliance has joined the Food Research and Action Center and more than 1,500 national, state, and community-based organizations in calling for strengthening the Summer and Afterschool Nutrition Programs. The 1,500 groups representing every state endorsed the bipartisan Summer Meals Act (S. 613), following up on a letter sent earlier this week by out of school time provider groups to support the same legislation.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up its Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill on September 17. The Afterschool Alliance’s top priorities for reauthorization include strengthening the Summer and Afterschool Nutrition Programs and bolstering their capacity to ensure children stay well-fed and learning when school is out. The bipartisan, bicameral Summer Meals Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA), would increase access to nutritious meals when school is out by:  

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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