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DEC
9
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Using Lights On Afterschool to collaborate with law enforcement in new ways

By Elizabeth Tish

Last month, local police officers joined the Child Center of New York at Basie Beacon IS 72 for a youth-driven Lights On Afterschool celebration in Queens, N.Y. After identifying conflict with police as a major issue in their community, the program’s youth council developed the theme of the evening, “Improvement Starts with ‘I:’” a call for everyone in the community to play a role in improving relations with local police.

“We like to speak to the students as part of the Beacon program and get their ideas on current events,” said Barry Barclift, Program Coordinator of the Basie Beacon program, explaining the value of youth-led programming.

To bring youth and law enforcement officers together, Beacon hosted a basketball game with youth and officers from the 113th Precinct. Students who weren’t interested in playing basketball got involved in the event as members of the dance and step groups that performed at half-time. One student in the program even emceed the game, amusing parent and community spectators.  

Lights On event leads to future partnerships

“The event allowed students to see the officers in a different light. When you see them in uniform, you see them one way, but if you see them out of uniform or participating in a basketball game, you look at them differently,” explained Barclift. After Lights On Afterschool, the students asked to have monthly events with the officers. These events will continue to be planned with input from the youth council.

Barclift said that the 113th Precinct officers are very supportive and excited to continue working with the Beacon program: “They are going to come and assist anywhere that we need them, so that our students see that [the officers] are invested in the community, even though they don’t live here.”

While the youth council will continue to plan events, they will also give the officers an opportunity to offer future partnership ideas to guide their work with the program going forward.

Barclift advises programs who are looking to adopt a similar partnership model to follow a youth-led approach. He wants Beacon’s law enforcement programming to be a collaboration between the youth council and police officers moving forward, an approach that allows the students to have ownership over the interaction and work hard to create a product they are proud of, while allowing officers to connect with students through an activity that excites them.   

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learn more about: Community Partners
DEC
8
2016

POLICY
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Update: Congress poised to pass second short-term stopgap spending bill

By Erik Peterson

This week, the House of Representatives released the text of a new short-term continuing resolution (CR) that Congress must pass by this Friday, December 9th to avoid a government shutdown. The CR will maintain the federal government’s current funding level through April 28, 2017. This second CR will pick up where the first one, passed in late September, left off.  This means that funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers will be maintained at the current level for another four months.

In April, lawmakers must negotiate a final spending bill in order to keep the government operating through the end of FY17 on September 30, 2017. This will likely take the form of either a third CR or an omnibus spending bill.

Some conservative Members of Congress are urging their leadership to enact cuts to domestic discretionary l spending levels in any final bill that is passed next year. If these efforts are successful and the final spending bill appropriates less money than FY16  spending levels, it will likely result in fewer children attending local afterschool and summer learning programs that leverage federal support through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and the Child Care Development Block Grant.

Make your voice heard: use our action center to share your thoughts on the appropriations process and its impact on afterschool with your member of Congress to ensure that no cuts are made late in the fiscal cycle next year.

The CR also includes provisions that will be of interest to summer learning programs operating the Summer Meals program—namely, it includes funding to maintain both the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer food program for low-income children who get meals at school during the academic year and the Child Nutrition Information Clearinghouse.   

Congress is expected to wind up much of their work by next week and will officially convene the 115th Congress on January 3rd.

DEC
7
2016

STEM
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New report: Opportunities and challenges in afterschool computer science

By Melissa Ballard

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, we’re proud to release our new report, “Growing computer science education in afterschool: Opportunities and challenges.” A diverse group of stakeholders—including educators, business and industry, policy makers, and parents—agree that computer science education is vital for kids to become the creators and innovators for the next generation, making technology work for them and designing solutions for their communities.

In the report, we asked the afterschool field what they thought about computer science education. They responded with overwhelming interest: 59 percent of our survey respondents were either offering computing to their students at the time of the survey or had offered it in the past, with the majority saying they were highly likely to offer it again. Among the programs that had never offered computing education before (40 percent of respondents), 89 percent indicated a high or medium level of interest in trying it out.

Despite this strong interest, afterschool providers indicated some big challenges to offering computer science to their students, especially finding qualified educators to teach it, securing funding, and accessing necessary technology. To address these common challenges, as well as other issues mentioned in our focus groups, our report offers nine recommendations for K-12 computer science education stakeholders:

For afterschool leaders and practitioners:

  1. Document promising practices.
  2. Share existing resources more broadly.
  3. Support individual afterschool programs’ capacity for partnerships. 

For computer science education experts:

  1. Conduct targeted outreach to the afterschool field to educate them on computing.
  2. Increase professional development opportunities for out-of-school time educators.
  3. Develop engaging curricula designed for the afterschool environment. 

For industry partners and grantmakers:

  1. Engage and invest in meaningful partnerships with afterschool providers.
  2. Support training for employee volunteers.
  3. Provide and promote a diverse array of funding opportunities.

For more details on our recommendations, and how you can implement them, download the full report!

We hope that our findings will help K-12 computer science education stakeholders support the growth of quality, sustainable computing education within the afterschool field. Read the full report today, and be sure to forward it to your friends and colleagues.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Science
DEC
7
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 7, 2016

By Luci Manning

Establishing a Culture of Peace (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)
Students in the Martin Luther King Center afterschool program now have a safe space to relax, take a few deep breaths and escape the drama of their daily lives. The community center decided to create the new Peace Room to give students a place to wind down, read and meditate after they finish their homework. The room is filled with peace-themed art, books and beanbag chairs. “We’ve dedicated this as the no-drama zone,” center director Allison Luthe told the Indianapolis Star. In addition to the afterschool program, the center also tries to engage parents with services like job training, co-working space and financial coaching.

One Zesty Food Fight (St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, Michigan)
Some 130 students from five area high schools stewed beans, chopped vegetables and fried cornbread at the eighth annual Chili Cook-Off at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College on Friday. The competition gave students a chance to meet their peers in other culinary programs and show off the skills they have been learning in their cooking classes. Being in a college setting also may have inspired some of the students to start thinking about their future. “It can get them excited about college,” Chris Woodruff, chair of the college’s Hospitality and Management Faculty and program, told the Herald-Palladium. “Maybe they haven’t even thought about it yet. It’s like, ‘This is fun. I can do this. I may to do this for a career.’”

From Syrian Refugee to U.S. Doctor, He Helps Shape Teens’ Dreams (CNN)
When Dr. Heval Mohammad Kelli arrived in the U.S. as a Syrian refugee at age 17, he worked as a dishwasher on nights and weekends to help support his family, hoping to one day save enough money to go to medical school. Now, he trains as a cardiology fellow at Emory University, one block away from that restaurant, and mentors high school refugees who want to follow in his footsteps. “I feel the obligation as a physician that my service goes beyond patient care: I need to invest in the community,” Kelli told CNN. The Young Physicians Initiative is an afterschool program that partners Emory University medical students with young refugees from around the world to inspire them to pursue a career in medicine, no matter the barriers.

After-School Programs Are Vital for Austin’s Children (Austin-American Statesman, Texas)
Karen LaShelle, executive director of Creative Action, lays out the benefits of afterschool programs in an Austin-American Statesman op-ed: "One big reason so many children aren’t some place safe and constructively engaged is that we don’t have enough after-school programs across the state...The Del Valle school district, located just east of Austin, has risen to the challenge. All of its 12 schools provide after-school programs for youths in K-12th grade...They can get help with homework; act in a play; dance in a ballet folklorico group; learn about various science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics; play soccer of chess; plant and harvest a garden and more. And they do all those things under the watchful eyes of caring adults...We can only hope that leaders in other communities will find a way to follow Del Valle's example."

DEC
6
2016

POLICY
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5 opportunities for afterschool in new Department of Education regulations for ESSA

By Jillian Luchner

President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

On November 29th, the Department of Education issued final regulations on accountability, school support, data reporting, and consolidated state plan provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The regulations strengthen the voices of afterschool advocates who recognize the importance of being included in state plans by reinforcing the importance of stakeholder involvement, awareness of equitable resources, and state and local flexibility in decision making.

The new regulations responded to more than 20,000 comments on the draft regulations (including a submission by the Afterschool Alliance), in some cases clarifying the law, in other cases explaining the decision to not take action, and occasionally suggesting that more information would come in the form of non-regulatory guidance. We’ve identified the following five areas in the regulations where afterschool may play a major role.

1. Accountability

What the law says: The regulations emphasize “working closely with stakeholders to choose evidence based interventions that are tailored to local needs.” The new law also requires states to choose one or more indicators of school quality or student success (like student engagement or chronic absenteeism, for example), which will factor into the overall school score that is reported to parents under the accountability system. The regulations require that these indicators, also known as 5th indicators, have a research base tying them to student learning and achievement, such as improved GPAs, credit accumulation, graduation rates, college enrollment or career success.

Where afterschool fits in: Afterschool programs are a proven way to support students in academics, engagement and behavior. Afterschool advocates should ensure that state and local superintendents and school boards are aware of the research on afterschool’s role in boosting academic achievement and student success. The afterschool field is a well-positioned partner in supporting students and the school system under this section of the law.

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learn more about: Department of Education ESEA
DEC
5
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Achievement gap covered at children's opportunity town hall

By Jodi Grant

On October 17, I joined leaders from across the country in Las Vegas to discuss the opportunity gap. I learned more about what organizations like the Children’s Leadership Council, Children’s Defense Fund, the National Council of La Raza and many more are doing to close the children’s opportunity gap. You can watch a recording of the Town Hall and find a full list of partner organizations here.

What does afterschool have to do with the opportunity gap for kids?

  1. There isn’t enough supply to meet the demand for afterschool – for every child in an afterschool program, there are two waiting to get in.
  2. Families with higher incomes spend 7 times as much as lower income families on afterschool programs, which results in about 6000 hours of learning loss between kids from low-income families and high-income families by the start of sixth grade.
  3. Poverty can live anywhere, even rural communities – for every child in a rural afterschool program, there are three waiting to get in.

Thank you to Every Child Matters for inviting me to be part of this group to discuss this important topic. You can join the conversation on Twitter using #KidsOpportunity. Children deserve all the resources necessary to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to get ahead. 

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learn more about: Equity Events and Briefings
DEC
1
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 1, 2016

By Luci Manning

Nutrition Fair Provides Dose of Education for All Kinds of Students (Centre Daily Times, Pennsylvania)

A partnership between Penn State University and the State College Area School District recently gave university students an opportunity to teach “nutrition at a community level” to afterschool students the Centre Daily Times reports. Some 55 Penn State students put together a Health and Nutrition Fair with a variety of interactive booths to teach kindergarten to fifth-graders from Ferguson Township Elementary School about what’s in their food and where it comes from. The fair also allowed college students to practice teaching in a real-world setting.

New After-School Program Offers Students and Their Families Free Tutoring, Meals (Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico)

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe’s Homework Diner is working to nourish both the minds and bodies of vulnerable children throughout the south-side of the city. Some 80 students attend the afterschool program, where they receive a free meal and help from volunteer tutors to get their homework done. The program also invites family members to enjoy dinner with their children. “This way we make sure the kids are getting fed and learning,” Club director Roman Abeyta told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “We really don’t know the family situation, but this really can take a burden off of parents when it comes to both feeding their children and making sure they get their homework done.”

Muslim Teen Fights Stigma by Winning Robotics Competitions (Los Angeles Times, California)

Sixteen-year-old Zaina Siyed is determined to change the way Muslims are perceived in the United States by coaching an all-female, all-Muslim team of teens to victory in robotics competitions. According to the Los Angeles Times, the FemSTEM girls recently won the award for best overall performance at a First Lego League robotics competition, where young people between the ages of nine and 14 build and program robots to perform a variety of different functions. The competitions emphasize teamwork and problem-solving wrapped around math and science concepts. “As a woman in STEM… [I’m] proud, hopeful for the next generation,” judge Cindy Muñoz said as she presented the team with its award. “I’m just so excited to see women, minorities, Muslims just really challenge those views some people have.”

Afterschool Program Finds Cozy Home (Port Clinton News Herald, Ohio)

Port Clinton students can enjoy tasty snacks and a cozy atmosphere at a free afterschool program at Bistro 163. The philanthropic-minded restaurant, which encourages patrons to pay more than the menu price to cover the cost of food for someone less fortunate, gives students a space to work on homework with volunteer tutors, play tabletop games, do crafts and eat a substantial snack every Wednesday after school. “It’s just something I felt like we should do,” owner and chef Stacy Maple told the Port Clinton News Herald.  

NOV
30
2016

STEM
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New report: Documenting the impact of afterschool STEM

By Melissa Ballard

Afterschool programs support students’ success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a multitude of ways—by helping them become interested and engaged, develop tangible STEM skills, and begin to see themselves as potential contributors to the STEM enterprise. While afterschool programs across the country are working hard to measure the impact they’re having on youth, we know that program evaluation is no small task—requiring a professional evaluator, getting staff on board, and ensuring student and parent participation.

Our new report “The impact of afterschool STEM: Examples from the field” compiles some of the most telling studies on how afterschool STEM programs are engaging students. Fifteen afterschool programs—diverse in size, structure, and approach—shared their evaluation data with us, thereby adding to the growing evidence that afterschool programs are crucial partners in bolstering student success in STEM education.

Here's a sample of the impacts you can read about in the report:

  • After participation in Girlstart, a Texas afterschool program, girls perform better on the state science and math tests compared to non-participants. Further, participants demonstrate a continued interest in STEM—Girlstart girls enroll in advanced 6th and 7th grade science and math courses at significantly higher rates than non-participants and 89 percent want to return to Girlstart After School in the next school year.
  • Youth members of The Clubhouse Network (pictured) report that they have learned how to use more technology (91 percent), are more confident using technology (88 percent), and use technology more often (84 percent) as a result of their Clubhouse experience. Almost 90 percent of youth in the Clubhouse’s Start Making! initiative felt they were better at solving hard problems, and had more skills to design, make or create projects.
  • After participating in Explore the Bay, an environmental and marine science afterschool program, 81 percent of students said that they were really interested in learning about plants and animals and 89 percent of students surveyed reported that they wanted to take better care of their environment.

To read more impacts of afterschool STEM, read the full report.

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learn more about: Evaluations Science