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APR
4

RESEARCH
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Addressing the Unique Challenges of Afterschool in Rural Areas

By Chris D'Agostino

At the Afterschool Alliance, we have always been aware of the challenges facing afterschool programs in rural areas.  In 2007, we released an issue brief specifically addressing the unique viewpoint of rural programs and last year we published America After 3PM: From Big Cities to Small Towns, which highlights the major differences in all aspects of afterschool participation among rural, urban and suburban populations.

Recently, our friends at the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) added a new issue to their Research Update series highlighting the benefits, challenges and successful strategies of afterschool programs in rural areas based on profiles from the valuable HFRP Out of School Time Database.  The issue shows the variety of positive outcomes that afterschool programs can provide for children in rural communities including:
  • Improved school grades;
  • Improvedattitudes towards and engagement in school;
  • Decreased behavioral problems;
  • Increased academic test scores;
  • Decreased drug use; and
  • Improved school attendance
 
While the rural programs profiled in the Out of School Time database all share the rural moniker, they vary both in their geography and in the diversity of the populations which they serve.  The programs represented span from Montana to Georgia and each has a unique focus, whether it is English Language Learning or substance abuse prevention. The Research Update describes the various and distinctive barriers faced by rural afterschool programs while also providing successful strategies that rural programs can employ to overcome these barriers. It’s a must-read for any afterschool or rural education enthusiast, so check it out today, and be sure to look at other programs profiled in HFRP’s very useful Out of School Time database.

 

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learn more about: Evaluations Rural
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MAR
31

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Ambassadors Make Headlines

By Luci Manning

In a Rapid City Journal op-ed, Afterschool Ambassador Carla Allard writes about the need for afterschool programs in South Dakota.  The Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM report found that nearly 49,000 young people in the state are responsible for taking care of themselves in the afternoon.

“But South Dakotans understand the value of afterschool programming, as we made clear at Mount Rushmore last fall when 300 adults and children rallied in support of this type of educational service” during Lights on Afterschool, Allard writes.  “The central message was that afterschool programs do much more than occupy kids' spare time.  They keep children safe, and are structured to inspire students to continue learning after 3 p.m.”

Ambassador Krina Lemons talked with the Statesman Journal about budget cuts that are threatening afterschool programs in the Salem-Keizer school district.  The district’s afterschool programs serve more than 5,000 students, including many who are considered at-risk.

The Salt Lake Tribune highlighted the benefits of community partnerships in providing afterschool opportunities for students.  “The Community Education Partnership of West Valley City, Inc., for example, helps to support 16 afterschool programs, most of them at Granite schools.”  Afterschool Ambassador Margaret Peterson is the Partnership’s executive director.

For more information about Afterschool Ambassadors, click here.

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learn more about: Ambassadors Media Outreach
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FEB
18

IN THE FIELD
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Rivka on the Road in Alaska

By Rivka Burstein-Stern

 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! 

“Juneau in February? Really?” was the refrain I heard from friends and family for approximately 4 months leading up to the trip. Yes. Junea in February.
 
I truly cannot imagine a more breathtaking location for a conference. You’ll find Juneau nestled between mountains, water and a brilliantly blue glacier. I couldn’t help but think what a great location Juneau would be for environmentally focused afterschool programs, like those featured in our afterschool and the environment issue brief. I was lucky enough to be taken on driving tour by the conference organizers, who explained that you must properly dispose of your trash in Juneau in order to keep the bears at bay. You don’t have to tell me twice.
 
Bears, scenery and environmental education aside, Juneau was an excellent location for this particular conference because it happens to be the capital city of Alaska. This, of course, means that the state legislature was easily accessible to conference participants. In this case it was a short walk from the conference’s main location! Many conference attendees scheduled meetings with their state legislators to discuss the impact of afterschool programs in their local communities and encourage their elected officials to come see the programs firsthand.
 
I had the privilege of presenting to conference attendees on the subject of afterschool research developments, like our special America After 3PM report on afterschool access from big cities to small towns (the Alaskans pointed out to me that many of them are in a different category altogether called Bush towns), state facts about afterschool in Alaska, the latest federal policy news related to the budget and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and ideas for how they can take action on these important issues.
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learn more about: America After 3PM Events and Briefings
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JAN
4

FUNDING
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Consider a Donation to the Afterschool Alliance in the New Year

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 givingAny 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.

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learn more about: Advocacy Donate Inside the Afterschool Alliance
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DEC
13

IN THE FIELD
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US-UK Symposium Promotes Collaboration and Positive Academic Outcomes

By Chris D'Agostino

 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.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings
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NOV
5

LIGHTS ON
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Chicago Event Reveals New America After 3PM City Data

By Chris D'Agostino

  

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.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Events and Briefings
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OCT
21

LIGHTS ON
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We're Celebrate Lights On Afterschool from Coast to Coast!

By Susan Rohwer

 
Happy Lights On Afterschool
 
Today is the day and there are so many exciting things happening all over the country in celebration.
1 million Americans are celebrating the 11th annual Lights On Afterschool - October 21, 2010.  Find a local event, or check out a sampling of event descriptions from coast to coast.  
 
Here are some highlights and event news: 
Need last minute event tips? See our Event Planning Kit
 
Build support for your program and call attention to the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.   Register by October 21 for a chance to win 1,000 Quaker Chewy granola bars - it's not too late to organize an open house, light bulb decoration party for kids or petition drive
 
Lastly, if you have pictures from your event, send them our way at lightson@afterschoolalliance.org, we'll post them in our online gallery.
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learn more about: Advocacy Rural
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OCT
20

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly News Roundup - Oct. 20, 2010

By Luci Manning

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.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC America After 3PM Nutrition Obama
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