By Luci Manning
Students in the Fremont County School District have improved their performance on key academic assessments, thanks in part to a new series of reading, math and afterschool programs. The schools’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers program aims to improve graduation rates and to combat alcohol abuse, while a special committee to improve academic performance in the district funds swimming lessons, recreation programs and more. “We give our students the opportunity to succeed, and they shall,” school district Board of Trustees chair Charlene Gambler-Brown told the Riverton Ranger.
Students from the Anderson Girls and Boys Club helped educate the public about African American culture at a special Black History Month program this week. The event featured individual and group performances from several Girls and Boys Club members and groups, and was attended by Mayor Thomas Broderick and other city leaders. “The importance of this is for our youth to learn about our history and our culture,” afterschool program director Larry McClendon told the Anderson Herald Bulletin.
A San Diego afterschool program helped a young homeless girl nurture her artistic talent in a journey that led her all the way to the Academy Awards. Four years ago, then 16-year-old Inocente Izucar won an Oscar for best documentary short for a film based on her own life as a young woman who used art to create an alternate reality free of abuse, homelessness and poverty, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. She now produces films and sells her artwork, but always makes time to visit A Reason to Survive (ARTS), the afterschool program that helped her thrive and helps other youth cope with adversity through painting and other artistic endeavors.
World champion figure skater Meryl Davis may not be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but she is nurturing the next generation of young figure skaters. Figure Skating in Detroit is a new program inspired by former skater Sasha Cohen’s program of the same name in Harlem, meant to inspire young girls of color to learn to skate and find their passion in life. The program will provide free skates, equipment and training for 300 girls in its first year through introductory workshops, a summer day camp and a year-round afterschool program. “The program will help expose young girls of color, who may not have traveled much further beyond their neighborhood, to skating, education and leadership,” director Geneva Williams told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s about girl power.”
By Luci Manning
Mississippi State University students are acting as homework helpers and positive role models to low-income students in Starkville through the Brickfire Mentoring Program. The Brickfire Project helps low-income families through childcare, afterschool programs and job training. The program has proved beneficial for both youth and college students, according to Mississippi State senior Holly Travis. “I fell in love with the kids and saw an opportunity to have a lasting impact on the students,” she told the Reflector.
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton is trying to boost the number of women in STEM fields through a new afterschool initiative, the Lieutenant Governor’s STEM Challenge for Girls. The program involves 33 students from two Fayette County middle schools and aims to eventually expand statewide. Students will participate in six afterschool sessions working on STEM projects and hearing from professionals in various scientific fields. Melissa Graham, science department chairwoman at Leestown Middle School, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the program is “going to show girls that it doesn’t matter what your gender is, that you can be successful in a STEM occupation.”
A collaboration between Detroit schools and a variety of arts and science venues is expanding learning opportunities for students throughout the city. The participating organizations—including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Belle Isle Nature Center and Detroit Symphony Orchestra—will engage students and families in afterschool events focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). “Our families and students need these experiences, and what happens inside the classrooms needs to be supported by what happens outside the classroom,” interim Detroit Schools Superintendent Alycia Meriweather told Detroit News.
After the afterschool program Project YES lost one of its major grants, a local woman decided to take supporting the program into her own hands. Dot Santy, who has volunteered for and donated to Project YES for the past ten years, is now trying a variety of methods to raise $35,000 so that the program can boost its enrollment from 19 to 85 students. She believes the program provides huge benefits to the community and the children it serves. “Success early encourages them to continue with their education and become contributing citizens to our community,” she told the Tucson Explorer.
By Luci Manning
Approximately 10,000 middle and high school girls from the Los Angeles area had a chance to attend a special screening of the new film ‘Hidden Figures’ and hear from some of the film’s stars about why it’s important for women of color to pursue careers in STEM fields. The event was organized by the LA Promise fund, a nonprofit that helps middle and high school girls prepare for college and careers, and featured Grammy winner Pharrell Williams, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and actors Janelle Monáe and Aldis Hodge. “Our goal here is to kill that very old-school mentality that math, science, technology and engineering are made for the male mind,” Williams told EdSource.
Students at the Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities are taking a break from winter to visit Hawaii – without leaving their afterschool classroom. The school’s artist-in-residence, Bria Zan Thompson, is spending two weeks teaching students about Hawaiian dance, legends, environment and culture. The two-week unit will culminate with a big dance production at the end of the week, with different grades responsible for different dances. According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, the artist-in-residence program brings in an outside professional to teach something students wouldn’t normally learn during the school day.
Students in a Philadelphia afterschool program are learning to create art that can last a lifetime. The middle and high school students involved in the Stained Glass Project learn stained glass window-making from two Temple University alumnae. In the 11 years the program has been running, the students have donated at least 115 stained glass windows to schools and centers around the world, including a primary school in South Africa and a Native American reservation in Minnesota, according to Temple News. “When in [the student’s] lives do they have a chance to do something and … donate it?” Joan Myerson Shrager, one of the women in charge of the program, said. “I think there’s a lot of pride in our students that they have created something very beautiful that they then donate.”
Teens and seniors came together over Bingo this MLK Day as part of President Barack Obama’s national call-to-service initiative, United We Serve. More than 100 students from the Westmoreland Teen Center and 31 AmeriCorps volunteers played games at nursing and retirement homes and passed out gift bags filled with compression socks, lip balm and lotions. “(I hope they learn) there isn’t really a difference between the populations,” teen center director Dawn Baumgardner told the Herald-Dispatch. “They are just like us. There is a lot that they can learn from the older generation. Hopefully it will encourage them to help out and volunteer more when they see the older population.”
By Rachel Clark
|Des Moines Public Schools students showed off their artistic talents at their 2016 Lights On Afterschool celebration.|
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities is currently seeking applicants for the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. According to the Committee, the award is “the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.”
12 outstanding programs from a wide range of communities across the country will be recognized with a $10,000 grant, an invitation to accept the award at the White House, and a full year of capacity-building and communications support to ensure their programming will benefit youth for years to come.
The short answer: many afterschool programs!
The eligibility criteria specify that applicants must operate as ongoing, regularly-scheduled programs for children and youth outside of the school day, using one or more disciplines of the arts or humanities as the core content of their programs, and must concentrate on underserved children and youth. The programming must involve children and youth as active participants, rather than only as an audience for arts or humanities experiences, and must integrate arts and humanities education with youth development goals.
Additionally, programs must have been operational since January 2013 for a minimum of five years, including 2017, and must be a 501(c)(3) organization, state or local government entity, or federally recognized tribal community or tribe.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) officially replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as the guiding, major federal education law in December of 2015. Since implementing ESSA takes time, ESSA’s changes will start taking effect during the 2017-18 school year. ESSA includes several opportunities for states and local school districts to utilize flexible federal funds to provide students with afterschool and summer learning programs, STEM learning, physical activity, and arts education.
The Arts Education Partnership, working with the Education Commission of the States, recently released ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts. The new resource can help school and community based afterschool providers and advocates understand how ESSA opportunities can support arts education that contributes to a well-rounded student education.
Opportunities for the arts in Title I programs
The programs of ESSA's Title I, Part A are designed to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. The evidence-based programs supported by Title I funds assist students who are academically at risk, and these programs help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and those who enjoy more resources. There are many opportunities to include arts education opportunities that help achieve these goals in Title I, Part A:
State plans. Each state must submit an accountability plan to the Department of Education each year, including at least one indicator of school quality or student success beyond student achievement, graduation rates and English proficiency. This means that states could choose to include an arts-related indicator, such as the number of arts course offerings, the percentage of high school students enrolled in arts courses that provide postsecondary credit, or the proportion of certified arts educators to students.
Local Education Agency (LEA) plans. To receive Title I funding, a district must submit a plan to the state education agency that describes how it will identify inequities in educational opportunities and help close the achievement gap for all students, including a description of how the district will provide a well-rounded education. A district can choose to provide a description of its arts education programs and the role of those programs in providing all students a well-rounded education. LEAs can opt to use their Title I Part A funds to support out of school arts programming as well.
Schoolwide Programs. To be eligible for schoolwide program funds, schools must have at least 40 percent of their students identified as coming from low-income families and create a schoolwide plan which embraces whole school reform. As a part of a well-rounded education, these plans may incorporate the arts as strategies to provide all students the opportunity to achieve.
Targeted assistance schools. Schools that do not meet the poverty threshold for schoolwide programs can use Title I funding to create programs targeted to help academically at-risk students meet the state’s academic standards. The arts, as part of a well-rounded education, can be included as a potential strategy for meeting the objectives set by schools for the Targeted Assistance Schools programs, using the traditional school day or out-of-school time.
Parent and family engagement. Engaging the families of students is an important aspect of ESSA and appears in several areas of Title I. Examples of family engagement using the arts might include: incorporating arts programming in a back-to-school night, schools providing parents with expectations for their children in arts classes, or encouraging parents to work with their schools in developing schoolwide plans that value the arts as a strategy in closing the achievement gap.
To learn more about ESSA and the arts, read the full report and visit this webpage for additional resources on topics such as accountability, assessments, and state plans. Have more questions about how ESSA affects afterschool? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions on 21st CCLC and ESSA.
By Luci Manning
Students in the Bidwell Junior High School BLAST afterschool program don’t need encouragement to learn – they eagerly dive into the program’s hands-on science projects. Students from Chico State University lead experiments and teach the middle schoolers about topics ranging from hydrophobic molecules to how batteries work. Working with college students also exposes the children to the value of higher education, coordinator Stephanie Johnson said. “Hopefully it will give the kids another look at what hard work and dedication to education can get them,” she told the Chico Enterprise-Record.
An afterschool program for autistic children who love trains recently received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama to recognize its positive impact on students in Brooklyn. The Transit Museum’s Subway Sleuths program offers a chance for children to build train sets, make transit-themed art, go on museum scavenger hunts and build social skills as they share their love of trains with their peers. Parent Maria Farley said the program has helped her son Alastair learn to express himself. “He’s comfortable with speaking to me and speaking to other people about his interests and being able to express himself without any fear, without any reservations… it’s empowering,” she told the Daily News.
Sixteen D.C. schools received grant money earlier this year to develop programs that will contribute to the academic and social success of young males of color in D.C. Public Schools. The Empowering Males of Color initiative supports afterschool programs that focus on science, art and more. “Our schools are excited about the activities and the supports that they have for our young men of color,” interim chancellor John Davis told the Washington Post. “It has generated an excitement and given them the support to be innovative.” The schools hope to give students skills that can lead them toward realistic and positive careers and help them to develop their social-emotional abilities.
Denver nonprofit cityWILD is enabling low-income and marginalized students to enjoy outdoor opportunities in Colorado’s vast wilderness through a free afterschool program. Low-income students often don’t have access to outdoor activities, so the group organizes overnight and day trips where students can raft, backpack, mountain-bike, hike, snowshoe and explore nature in a safe, supportive environment. The program also offers academic assistance, leadership development and general support to the community. Executive director Jes Ward said the positive effect on students is clear. “[I] see the transformation in young people when they do have access to the outdoors and nature: It is incredible,” she told the Christian Science Monitor. “They are not the same young people that walk in the doors the first time.”
By Luci Manning
Thanks to a donation from the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, some 500 students will learn how to play music on refurbished violins and cellos in the Winston Strings Program. The program teaches string instruments to students of all grade levels during and after school. While the orchestra in the past has lent instruments and sent in teaching assistants, this is the first time they have fully donated instruments to the program. “We’re not trying to make them into musicians; we’re trying to help students have a large sense of their own potential,” orchestra music director Troy Peters told the San Antonio Express-News.
An afterschool program is bringing art and creative opportunities to underprivileged students from fifth grade through college. Core Academy offers students afterschool enrichment opportunities and homework help, as well as support for basic needs like food, school supplies and health care, to help students find their way through high school and eventually make it to college or a successful career. “I knew from the students that I was working with that it was going to take a lot more than mentoring and tutoring to truly break the cycle of poverty,” chief inspiration officer Lindsay Harper told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Not every kid has the same opportunity in this community, and so we are here to inspire and empower.”
Students from nine Montana schools will spend the next few months collaborating with NASA to design drag devices and pressurized containment suits as part of the Montana 21st Century Community Learning Center program. The engineering design challenge will give students in fifth through eighth grade the chance to employ their STEM skills in afterschool science clubs to build interstellar equipment to better protect astronauts and support space exploration. “These students will get a firsthand look at how science, technology, engineering and math can create real solutions for space exploration,” superintendent of public instruction Denise Juneau told the Great Falls Tribune. “Getting students excited about the STEM fields is how we’ll continue to be a worldwide leader in research and discovery.”
Fifteen children between the ages of four and 11 showcased their knowledge of road runners, scorpions, butterflies and more at the Kiwanis Learning Garden through “The Synergy of Animals and Plants” project. Students in the Family Stewardship Collaborative, an afterschool program through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, each selected an animal as their research subject. They then put together mosaics depicting the animal and a report describing how the animal interacts with plants, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The project, funded by a grant from the American Forest Foundation’s Project Learning Tree, will be on display at the garden indefinitely.
The Puffin Foundation West seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and voices often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy. To achieve that goal, the organization offers grants for arts projects that discuss a wide range of social and civil justice issues.
A grant from Puffin Foundation West could provide valuable support to an afterschool program seeking to inform the local community about an important issue through the arts. Issues that could be addressed include food insecurity, peace, prisons, discrimination, race, culture, sexual orientation, trafficking, global warming, environmental protection, nuclear proliferation, poverty, gender issues, racial profiling, immigration, bullying, violence in schools, homelessness, gun control, animal rights, and more.
2016 Puffin grantees included the following:
- ArtSparks is a nonprofit that sends professional teams of dance instructors and musicians to work with 900 third grade students in the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton City, Ohio school districts.
- The Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition’s (MCC) Changing Minds Campaign raises positive visibility of the accomplishments of people who have mental illness. Each year, the MCC holds a celebration at the Massachusetts State House in Boston to recognize companies for taking action to diversify their workforce by hiring people who have mental illness.
- Columbus Dance Theatre offers full or partial scholarship classes to young men and boys in central Ohio, in an effort to encourage the development of men in dance. Classes consist of ballet, fitness training, modern dance, jazz, partnering, and repertoire.
- Play Us Forward seeks to overcome the socioeconomic barriers in learning how to play the violin by providing instruction and instruments at no cost to the student or student’s family.
You can find the full list of grantees on the Puffin Foundation West website. You must be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States to be eligible for the award, and must be applying for a project in the United States.