Full disclosure – I often wonder whether locations for conferences are selected based on their utter lack of allure and intrigue (the less there is to distract us, the more time to spend participating in conference activities… right?). Well, that genius theory of mine was thoroughly disproven by my last trip, because I was whisked off to one of the most beautiful (and distracting!) places imaginable: Juneau, Alaska for the Alaska 21st Century Community Learning Center & Alaska Association for Community Education Winter Conference!
By Susan Rohwer
We have seen a year of unprecedented challenges for the afterschool field in 2010. Recent policy developments and the painful economic downturn have combined to make this a very difficult year for afterschool programs and the children, families and communities they serve.
We at the Afterschool Alliance are working intensively with our partners at the national, state and local levels to bring resources to those most in need, and to emphasize the crucial role played by afterschool programs nationwide.
But, as we enter 2011, significant challenges loom. The 112th Congress will consider an appropriations bill that threatens to cut funding for afterschool programs, at precisely the time when children and families need them the most. We will continue our efforts to help programs keep their doors open, and will collaborate closely with the Obama administration, U.S. Department of Education and Congress to ensure that afterschool is part of future education reform.
We need your help to continue this critical work, and are asking you to consider including the Afterschool Alliance in your new years giving. Any amount you can provide is greatly appreciated. All funds raised will go toward ensuring that America’s children and youth have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. Donations can be mailed or made through our website at afterschoolalliance.org.
Last week, I was in my hometown of Union, New Jersey at Kean University for an education symposium with education leaders, school representatives and school building designers from the United Kingdom and United States. At the event, best practices concerning general education, productive learning environments and extended services were shared to promote increased collaboration and better educational outcomes in both countries. The symposium focused on a number of additional key themes including school improvement, extending the school day, summer learning and school design. Twelve leading educators, principals and designers from both countries were on hand to share their visions of educational improvement during a procession of presentations at Kean University's new Science, Technology and Mathematics Education building.
The event, co-hosted by the New Jersey School Age Care Coalition (NJSACC) and The British Council for School Environments, was kicked off by an interesting discussion of global education and its relationship to developing technologies by Kean University’s Dr. Michael Searson. Afterword, a procession of New Jersey afterschool advocates, and others linked to improving learning outcomes, discussed the American perspective on developing educational opportunities. Diane Genco, executive director of NJSACC, discussed the US’s 21st CCLC program funding stream and afterschool programs’ importance in broadening learning experiences for youth. Diane cited numbers from our America After 3PM study to show the great demand for programs in New Jersey and throughout the country. Afterword, NAA President and CEO Dr. Paul Young conferred his ideas about how schools and afterschool program coordinators can better collaborate to promote expanded learning opportunities, and later, Chris Perez of the NJ Charter Schools Association discussed the role of charter schools in broadening education options for families. The US presentations ended with a discussion of improvements in school design, and then all attendees participated in an educational networking lunch.
On October 20, I traveled to Chicago with our Executive Director Jodi Grant to kick-off this year's Lights On After School and release data from our new report sponsored by JCPenney, America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns.
A week earlier in Des Moines, Iowa Jen Rinehart our VP of Policy and Research released the first part of this important research report, revealing the differences in afterschool participation and care among rural, urban and suburban children. In Chicago, Jodi introduced the second part of the report that details afterschool participation in four major U.S. cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.
The event was graciously hosted by Maggie Daily’s successful After School Matters program and emceed by After School Matters Executive Director David Sinski. We also heard remarks from the President of JCPenney Afterschool Jodi Gibson, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Commissioner Mary-Ellen Caron and President of the YMCA Neil Nicoll. The speakers praised afterschool programs in Chicago and data shows that Chicago has done well in supporting its youth:
· Chicago kids participate in afterschool programs at a rate of 27%; nearly double that of the national average of 15%.
· Chicago parents overwhelmingly support afterschool programs with more than 9 in 10 Chicago parents support funding for afterschool (91%).
· However, there is some room for improvement: 30% of Chicago children are still unsupervised after school, compared with 26% nationwide.
By Susan Rohwer
- 1,634 and counting...supporters are signing the petition We Rely on Afterschool Programs - Don't Deny or Divert Afterschool Funds! Sign online and download a pdf to distribute at your event
- New data released with JCPenney Afterschool: America After 3PM: from Big Cities to Small Towns
- Rsvp for our Facebook Lights On Afterschool online rally and post your pics, video or comments
- Mt. Rushmore lit up Oct 16 and the Empire State Building will light Oct 21 for Lights On Afterschool
- 50 Governors have proclaimed Oct 21 Lights On Afterschool day and the US Senate passed a resolution on Lights On Afterschool
- We’re Tweeting about #LOA2010, are you following the action? http://twitter.com/afterschool4all
Nearly 60,000 Dallas kids Unsupervised After School (Dallas Morning News ISD Blog, Texas)
The Afterschool Alliance and JCPenney Afterschool today released new data from the America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns report as part of Lights On Afterschool. It includes city-level data on four cities: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City. It found that 27 percent of schoolchildren in Chicago and Los Angeles, and 28 percent of New York City schoolchildren, participate in afterschool programs - nearly twice the 15 percent national participation rate. But just 14 percent of students in Dallas attend afterschool programs. To learn more, click here.
Rally for After-School Programs (Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio)
More than 35 afterschool programs in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky will participate in Lights on Afterschool tomorrow. Their planned events include open houses, drawing contests, concerts, and writing petitions to policy makers. More than 7,500 sites across the country are participating in Lights on Afterschool. To learn more or find an event near you, click here.
Vice President Makes Surprise Appearance at Redwood City School (San Jose Mercury News, California)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) visited an afterschool program at Taft School in Redwood City on Tuesday, and brought a surprise guest with her: Vice President Joe Biden. The pair visited the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula’s “Center for a New Generation” because they wanted to see an afterschool program funded by the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative.
Dinner Bell Follows Class Bell at Some D.C. Schools (Washington Post, Washington, D.C.)
D.C. public schools have expanded their free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch program to include an early dinner. Officials hope the program will draw more students to afterschool programs, where they can receive academic help, in addition to fighting childhood hunger and reducing obesity.
By Jodi Grant
Recently the Associated Press featured an article that brought tears to my eyes.
The piece is an inspiring reminder of how a dedicated community member can make a difference in the lives of children.
I wanted to share this story with you as you gear up for your Lights On Afterschool celebrations whether they are big or small.
More than 7,500 Lights On Afterschool celebrations are happening around the country this week and next and I’m looking forward to celebrating in Keystone, South Dakota; Laramie, Wyoming and Chicago, Illinois. From an open house in Alberton, Montana to a harvest party in Boca Raton, Florida more than 1 million people will participate in Lights On Afterschool this year. It’s the season to recognize all of the hard work that is done to make sure that afterschool is available to all children.
And the release of America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns reminds us that we need to make some noise for all of the kids that have no where to go after school. We know how hard you work and your work changes lives.
Take a moment to read it and give yourself a pat on the back for being part of an important movement for America’s children.
Report Says One Third of Iowa Kids Are Unsupervised After School (Radio Iowa, Iowa)
The Afterschool Alliance on Tuesday released America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns, examining the differences in afterschool programs in rural, urban and suburban communities. It finds that only about one in ten children in rural areas attend afterschool programs, and highlights variances between the geographic communities related to afterschool participation, satisfaction and demand. Find out more here.
Mount Rushmore to be Lit in Observance of 'Lights on Afterschool' Program (Argus Leader, South Dakota)
Afterschool advocates, community leaders, students and parents will light up Mt. Rushmore later this week to celebrate the 11th annual Lights on Afterschool. To learn more, or to find Lights on Afterschool events happening in your community, click here.
Our View: Helping Kids After School (Advocate, Louisiana)
Afterschool Ambassador Gaylynne Mack talks to the Advocate editorial board about the need for afterschool programs in Baton Rouge, and her plans for a Lights on Afterschool rally to raise awareness.
After-School Programs Endangered (Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio)
Afterschool programs in Ohio worry that changes in federal afterschool funding could force them to charge fees or cut programming.