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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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FEB
13

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Funding available for food skills education

By Rachel Clark

Duke Storen is the Senior Director for Partner Impact and Advocacy at Share Our Strength, whose No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Families on a tight budget report that the cost of healthy groceries is their biggest barrier to making healthy meals at home. But we know that with the right skills, shopping for and preparing healthy food doesn’t have to break the bank.

As part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, Cooking Matters is a free program that helps families shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget. Walmart, the national sponsor for Cooking Matters, makes this program possible.

Cooking Matters at the Store is a 1.5-hour grocery store tour in which participants learn four key food skills:

  • Reading food labels
  • Comparing unit prices
  • Finding whole grains
  • Identifying three ways to purchase produce

If you are interested in learning more about how Cooking Matters at the Store is making a difference in the lives of families in your community, visit www.cookingmatters.org/atthestore for an overview of the program.  It’s simple—a tour leader completes an online training, orders tour materials, recruits participants, and forms partnerships with grocery stores to host the tour.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Guest Blog Nutrition
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FEB
12

POLICY
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House Education Committee passes ESEA reauthorization, Rep. Barletta speaks out on value of 21st CCLC

By Erik Peterson

The House Education and the Workforce Committee under Chairman John Kline (R-MN) passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) on February 11th, continuing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization process. The legislation consolidates more than 65 programs, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC), the principal federal funding stream for afterschool, into a single grant program.

As pointed out by the Afterschool Alliance in a statement released earlier this week, such consolidation could be devastating for the 1.6 million young people served by 21st CCLC afterschool and summer learning programs across the nation. In fact, it is possible that the new grant structure would provide no resources whatsoever for students outside the school day. As a result, many children would be unsupervised, missing valuable learning opportunities that could help them succeed in school and in life, and without a host of other supports, including nutritious meals and opportunities for physical activity, STEM learning and access to mentors. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy
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FEB
4

POLICY
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Senate HELP Committee holds hearing on Fixing NCLB through Innovation

By Sophie Papavizas

On Tuesday, February 3, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a roundtable discussion on “Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students.”  This was the third and final scheduled hearing regarding NCLB reauthorization.  The first hearing covered testing and accountability while the second covered teacher and principal preparation and evaluation.  A recording of the hearing and full written statements from each of the seven witnesses are available on the Senate HELP Committee website.

Several witnesses were affiliated with schools and organizations receiving funds through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant program.  They included Ms. Henriette Taylor, a Community School Coordinator at the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in Baltimore, MD whose position is partially funded by the school’s 21st CCLC grant.  Ms. Taylor specifically mentioned how the different services supported by Title IV programs like 21st CCLC are crucial to her school and emphasized wraparound services as crucial with the rise of public school families living in poverty.

Also present were Mr. Josh Davis, Vice President of External Affairs at the Delta Health Alliance, a Promise Neighborhood grantee in Stoneville, MS, and Dr. James McIntyre, Jr., Superintendent of Knox County Schools in Knoxville, TN.  Mr. Davis discussed the need for federal funding to spark innovation and offer opportunities in areas in which state budgets are unable to invest.  In his written testimony, Dr. McIntyre describes Knox County Schools’ Community Schools initiative, a public-private partnership with local community organizations and universities, which is made possible in part by a 21st CCLC grant.  The Community Schools support expanded learning opportunities, health and dental care, and evening meals for both students and their families.  They have seen positive results with fewer discipline referrals, more parent involvement, and increased academic achievement.

21st Century Community Learning Centers have shown positive results in schools across the nation, but the grant program is eliminated in Senator Alexander’s draft bill for ESEA reauthorization.  Take action now to let Congress know that you support 21st Century Community Learning Centers!

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy
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FEB
3

POLICY
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The president's FY2016 budget: An afterschool and summer learning perspective

By Erik Peterson

On February 2, President Obama released his budget request for the upcoming 2016 fiscal year, which begins this October.  The president requested $1.152 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) —reflecting the same funding level as the current 2015 fiscal year.  Unlike his previous budget requests, the president’s proposal appears to keep 21st CCLC as a formula grant that flows to state education agencies, with states holding a competitive grant process at the state level.  The proposal from previous years to turn 21st CCLC into a national competitive grant competition is not included in the proposal this year.  However, as in past years, the budget proposal does propose using 21st CCLC grant funding for new purposes including adding time to the traditional school day or year, and for teacher planning and professional development.  The budget proposal comes as ESEA reauthorization efforts in the Senate HELP Committee seek to eliminate 21st CCLC.

In a challenging budget environment in which many programs face consolidation or elimination, the proposed level funding for 21st CCLC in the budget request demonstrates the importance and value of afterschool and summer learning programs.  Yet, we know that even with this strong support, more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school and the parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs but they are unavailable, unaffordable or both.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Federal Funding Federal Policy Obama
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FEB
2

STEM
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New year, new STEM education bills

By Sophie Papavizas

Each year in January, when many state legislatures start up fresh again, a large number of new bills appear and this year we’re seeing many relating to informal and formal STEM education.  Amongst the STEM-related bills appearing in the states is a bill sponsored by Montana State Senator Pat Connell to establish a pilot STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) summer school in the state, building on an existing afterschool STEAM program, to study best practices and possible future expansion of the afterschool program.  In New York, State Senator Joseph Robach has introduced legislation to start a grant program to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers in STEM.  In Mississippi, State Senator Derrick Simmons has proposed creating Innovation Schools and Innovation Zones to focus on STEM, with specific priority for STEAM and schools struggling to “raise outcomes for students.” 

Not all bills that appear are positive—state legislatures can get bogged down by bills focused on curriculum issues seen as controversial by some such as climate change and human evolution.  The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are also a major topic in many states.  NGSS have already been adopted by 13 states and the District of Columbia since the final version of the standards was released in April 2013.  West Virginia, the most recent state to adopt the standards, initially adopted modified standards, obscuring the intent of one of the standards that requires climate change to be taught as scientific fact, but changed their decision after receiving backlash from parents who circulated a petition calling for the adoption of the NGSS without modification.  Last year in Wyoming, the state legislature passed a budget footnote blocking the State Board of Education from considering NGSS.  Some state representatives questioned whether it was the legislature’s role to prevent the appointed State Board of Education from doing its job and the Wyoming House of Representatives recently passed a bill to remove the budget footnote.  Other states may soon face similar fights around STEM education—the Afterschool Alliance will be following closely.

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learn more about: Science State Policy
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JAN
13

POLICY
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New year, new Congress, new momentum

By Erik Peterson

2015 has only just begun but Congress is already into its second week and legislative priorities are emerging for the year ahead.  The 114th Congress convened last week with Republicans controlling both the House (246 Republicans to 188 Democrats, 1 vacancy) and the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats) as a result of the 2014 midterm elections.  What does the 114th Congress have in store that could impact afterschool and summer learning programs?  Plenty.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JAN
12

FUNDING
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Get fiscally fit: Budget tools for strong nonprofits

By Rachel Clark

Looking ahead in 2015, it’s critical for afterschool and youth-serving nonprofits to take stock of their budgets.  Organizations with strong financial management are better able to fulfill their missions and deliver high-quality services.  That’s why The Wallace Foundation has teamed up with Fiscal Management Associates and created an online library of resources to help your organization become "fiscally fit."

Do you have the funds to accomplish what you have said you will?  Find out with the Nonprofit Cost Analysis Toolkit, a step-by-step guide to determining the full costs of programs.  Is 2015 the year when you’ll have the budget flexibility to start that new initiative you’ve been excited to try?  There are multiple tools targeting organizations looking toward expansion so that you can prepare to extend your reach.  Are you operating as efficiently as you could be?  Read up on best practices for nonprofit budgeting and cost-cutting ideas to streamline your budget.

As your organization sets its goals and priorities for the New Year, visit StrongNonprofits.org to take advantage of The Wallace Foundation’s full library of free financial management resources.  Building your organization’s financial health in 2015 will ensure that you’ll be making a difference for years to come.

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learn more about: Sustainability
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JAN
9

RESEARCH
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Afterschool is the new norm

By Jodi Grant

As the pace of work ratchets backs up, and we face the challenges and opportunities a new year brings, I wanted to take a moment to look at where we are, and where we need to go.  We learned a lot about that in 2014, with the release of our third America After 3PM report, the most in-depth survey exploring the afterschool hours in our nation. 

Over the past 10 years, afterschool program participation has increased by more than 50 percent, to more than 10 million children.  Quite an accomplishment.

But the unmet demand for afterschool programs has also seen a steady increase. In 2009, the parents of 15.3 million children said they would enroll their child in an afterschool program if one were available.  Today, parents of nearly 20 million children want to enroll.

For every child in an afterschool program, two more children are waiting to get in. 

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learn more about: America After 3PM
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