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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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JUN
29

STEM
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Supporting Afterschool STEM Act introduced to support technical assistance for afterschool providers

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has introduced a bill aimed at providing the supports afterschool practitioners need to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.  Titled the Supporting Afterschool STEM ActS.2543 will create a grant program that state and regional afterschool and STEM networks can tap into to help afterschool providers in their area give students engaging and high-quality STEM learning experiences. 

As STEM programming grows in afterschool settings, the need for technical assistance and professional development is also rising.  However, most funding is usually allocated to develop and implement programs.  This important legislation recognizes the need to provide resources that will help afterschool practitioners with their professional development and quality improvement efforts. 

The Supporting Afterschool STEM Act authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award three-year grants to existing afterschool or STEM networks, with 20 percent of all funding reserved to develop new afterschool or STEM networks in states or regions where they don't yet exist.  This bill will enable afterschool networks as well as STEM networks to provide the infrastructure needed for supporting high-quality afterschool STEM programs regionally.  It rightly draws on existing networks and their experience and expertise to assist new and existing afterschool STEM programs and increase the effectiveness of existing federal investments.  The effort would help afterschool programs nationwide develop activities and programming that works in other communities in their state.  The bill also encourages mentorship between students and federal STEM research grantees, and provides hands-on learning and exposure to STEM research facilities for young people.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Legislation Science State Networks Sustainability
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JUN
12

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Use Summer Learning Day to strengthen summer learning in your community

By Sarah Simpson

Bob Seidel is the senior director of strategic initiatives and policy at the National Summer Learning Association. For more ideas on addressing policy makers about summer learning, contact Bob Seidel at bseidel@summerlearning.org.

 

Summer Learning Day is June 20!  But you can celebrate it locally anytime during the summer.  It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the students, educators and their community partners who are making summertime an exciting period of growth and learning. 

It’s also an important occasion for calling attention to the challenge that summer learning loss poses to our communities.  Mayors, council members, superintendents, principals and other local leaders need to understand that summer learning loss can undermine academic success and, with it, the community’s future, but that expanding summer learning opportunities can support and accelerate education goals.

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learn more about: Advocacy Events and Briefings Media Outreach Summer Learning
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JUN
11

CHALLENGE
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Youth advocates hone their skills at the Afterschool for All Challenge

By Melissa Ballard

We welcomed more than 30 youth from across the country to this year’s Afterschool for All Challenge. Half came from science center afterschool programs, thanks to our partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). Youth from this year’s MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award-winning programs also attended. These young advocates visited Congressional offices along with their state teams and shared personal stories of how afterschool has impacted their lives. But before they got started, we helped prepare them in an intensive workshop.

The workshop started with the students brainstorming ideas about what advocacy is and how it’s done. The group focused in on one aspect of advocacy—that it gave voice to those that don’t have one—thinking about other kids in their home communities. Then, we discussed what kinds of "asks" state teams would make and how advocacy through Capitol Hill visits fits into the legislative process (and of course, we had to show the classic School House Rock video).

To prepare for their turn to speak in the next day’s Capitol Hill meetings, we spent time crafting and practicing talking points. The task was to come up with a short, succinct way to describe what they did in their afterschool programs; why it mattered to them; and to concretely describe the effect participation has had on their interests, behaviors, knowledge and skills. Our last task for the workshop was to translate these talking points into a memorable document to leave behind with Congressional staff after the meetings. Check out all the youth’s handouts in America’s Afterschool Storybook.

Feedback from both the youth and their adult leaders was overwhelmingly positive. Leaders reported that the youth’s compelling personal stories were a great impact at each office they visited. ASTC is currently working on a video capturing the reactions of the science center youth—we’ll post that next week. We’re looking forward to an even bigger and better Afterschool for All Challenge in 2015!

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Congress Events and Briefings Inside the Afterschool Alliance MetLife Innovator Awards Youth Development
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JUN
3

POLICY
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Bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act proposed in Congress

By Erik Peterson

Late last month, a bipartisan group of law makers in the House and Senate introduced the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bill that would reauthorize and update the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and eliminate duplicative programs, improve reporting requirements and develop a set of common performance measures.

With regard to youth programs, WIOA would:

  • Require 75 percent of youth funding to support out-of-school youth, of which 20 percent is prioritized for "work-based activities." This would include funding career pathways development, dropout recovery efforts, skills training, and education and training leading to a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • Provide youth with disabilities the services and support they need to be successful in competitive, integrated employment.
  • Reauthorize the YouthBuild program; stipulating an independent evaluation of activities is conducted at least every four years for the purposes of improving the management and effectiveness of related programs and activities. The bill includes language that also allows the YouthBuild program to expand into additional in-demand industry sectors or occupations specific to its region, in recognition of the "changing demands of the economy."
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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Legislation Youth Development
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MAY
30

STEM
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Strong STEM presence at the Afterschool for All Challenge this year

By Anita Krishnamurthi

This year at the Afterschool for All Challenge, we had a particularly strong STEM presence at the workshops as well as during the visits with policy makers. 

Thanks to our partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), nearly 20 young people and their adult chaperones joined us from the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences in Camden; the Newark Museum in Newark, N.J.; The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Penn.; the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md.; and the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.  Check out the blog ASTC has posted about their experience.  We envisioned this year's participation as a pilot effort and hope to make it even bigger next year with more science centers participating in the Afterschool for All Challenge.  A big thank you to our ASTC partners for working with us to make all of this happen.  Join the ASTC STEM Afterschool Community of Practice if you'd like to engage in this conversation with us. 

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Congress Events and Briefings Inside the Afterschool Alliance Obama Science State Networks
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MAY
30

CHALLENGE
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Preeminent afterschool researcher and 10 state education leaders honored as Afterschool Champions

By Sarah Simpson

As part of the Afterschool for All Challenge, last week Judge Glenda Hatchett joined some 250 parents, children, educators, lawmakers and advocates from around the country at the “Breakfast of Champions” on Capitol Hill to honor Members of Congress and state champions for afterschool programs. We were proud to give our National “Afterschool for All” Champion Award to Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine, for her powerful and growing body of research that has been used to improve programs and measure their impact.

Dr. Vandell was one of the first researchers to assess afterschool programs and has been presenting findings to her peers on afterschool choices and outcomes for more than 20 years. She has released more than 30 papers and articles reviewing the academic and social outcomes associated with participation in quality programs. She is a preeminent researcher on afterschool programs and outcomes, and her work has informed program and policy development at the national, state and local levels.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Champions Congress Events and Briefings Inside the Afterschool Alliance Media Outreach MetLife Innovator Awards State Networks
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MAY
30

CHALLENGE
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Hundreds of you took action for the Afterschool for All Challenge; Congress heard you loud and clear

By Sarah Simpson

Last week, hundreds of afterschool advocates took action to urge their Members of Congress to support the Afterschool for America’s Children Act.  While afterschool leaders from across the country spent the day on Capitol Hill to hold 200 meetings with Members of Congress and their staff, almost 700 more amplified their voices by calling and emailing from home.

You spoke, they listened.  Here’s what your actions were able to do:

  • 7 new co–sponsors of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act in the House: Reps. Beatty (D-Ohio), Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Sewell (D-Ala.), Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Lowey (D-N.Y.). That more than quadruples the number of co-sponsors from before the Afterschool for All Challenge!
  • At least 1 new co–sponsor of the Afterschool for America’s Act in the Senate—we’ll keep you posted on who they are once the Senate is back in session next week!
  • At least 3 new members of the Congressional Afterschool Caucus.

Thanks again for taking the Afterschool for All Challenge and advocating for the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families. We couldn’t have done it without you!

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Congress Inside the Afterschool Alliance Legislation
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MAY
29

CHALLENGE
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Personal experience and research share the stage at Congressional afterschool briefing

By Erik Peterson

On May 22—in conjunction with the 13th annual Afterschool for All Challenge—the Senate Afterschool Caucus, the Afterschool Alliance and the Expanded Learning Project joined forces to host a Capitol Hill briefing featuring compelling stories and encouraging research that point to the success and potential of afterschool and summer learning programs. 

Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Education, shared new data that shows how quality afterschool programs can help close the achievement gap. She emphasized findings that show afterschool programs are particularly effective at improving achievement and positive behavior among low-income students. She noted that afterschool researchers and advocates have data that show that the long-term outcomes associated with afterschool participation are positive and compelling and should move the discussion about the benefits of afterschool beyond the safety and good behaviors conversations.  In addition, Vandell stated that in recent years the research tools and findings have facilitated the incorporation of measures of intensity, duration and quality. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Afterschool Caucus Afterschool Voices Equity Events and Briefings Academic Enrichment
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