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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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AUG
27

STEM
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After passing the House, STEM Education Act moves to Senate

By Sophie Papavizas

The bipartisan STEM Education Act, H.R. 5031 introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), passed the House last month and is now in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill has three goals:

  1. It expands the definition of STEM education as it pertains to federally funded programs to include disciplines such as computer science
  2. Grows programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal STEM education activities
  3. Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields

Of particular interest to the out-of-school field, the bill gives a directive to NSF to continue awarding grants and using funds to support informal and out-of-school STEM learning with the goal of increasing engagement in STEM and improving learning outcomes.  Grants and funding would support existing and new programs in places such as museums and science centers.

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learn more about: Congress Education Reform Federal Policy Legislation School Improvement Science Academic Enrichment
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AUG
27

POLICY
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Jim Jeffords: A founder of the movement to expand afterschool programs, a hero to children and families

By Jodi Grant

This post was originally published on Huffington Post's Education Blog. Read the original post and share your thoughts with the HuffPost community.

 

Before former Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont introduced the first legislation to provide federal funding for afterschool in 1994, the federal government played essentially no role in providing meaningful support and programming for young people in the hours after the school day ended and before parents arrived home from work. Sen. Jeffords, who passed away on Aug. 18 at the age of 80, was a pioneer in the national afterschool movement. He worked tirelessly to build congressional and presidential support for a national afterschool and summer learning program infrastructure that lives on today as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC).

Sen. Jeffords had many proud accomplishments, including chairing the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and helping to shape the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act. But advocates for afterschool remember him best as one of the original authors of the legislation that created the 21st CCLC.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Afterschool Voices Congress Equity ESEA Federal Policy Media Outreach Sustainability Working Families Academic Enrichment
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AUG
22

POLICY
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Child Protection Improvement Act gaining momentum in Congress

By Erik Peterson

Congress is out on August recess until early September, however discussions on a variety of topics continue to take place. In particular, momentum appears to be growing in support of the Child Protection Improvement Act (S. 1362). The bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) about one year ago seeks to establish affordable access to an all-encompassing criminal background check database system accessible by afterschool and other youth-serving organizations. While all youth-serving organizations can check the in-state criminal records of job applicants and volunteers, only one-third of states provide these organizations with access to the FBI database to conduct nationwide criminal background checks.

Earlier this summer, Sen. Schumer joined afterschool and youth organizations in New York for a press event highlighting the need and potential impact of the legislation. The bill builds off of the now expired pilot program created by the PROTECT Act of 2004 that gave selected youth-serving organizations access to nationwide criminal records.  Statistics from that program show the importance of having comprehensive background checks.   In that program, 6 percent of applicants had a criminal record that should have prevented them from working with children.  Additionally, 40 percent of those crimes were not committed in the same state in which the person applied for the job or volunteer opportunity, meaning that the record would be undetected without a nationwide criminal record search.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation
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AUG
8

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: After-School All-Stars youth leaders from across the nation converge on Washington, D.C.

By Erik Peterson

Guest blog by Alyssa Plotkin, national program assistant for the After-School All-Stars.

 

“Because of After-School All-Stars, I feel like I’m important, that my opinion matters. I’m so fortunate to have been chosen to be a yabbie. I feel happier, more social and more knowledgeable.” – Citlali of ASAS Los Angeles

After-School All-Stars (ASAS), a leading national provider of comprehensive out-of-school-time programs that serves more than 90,000 children in 13 cities across the U.S.—brought 40 extraordinary 8th grade leaders and staff to Washington, D.C., in July for a week-long leadership summit. Each chapter, from New York to Hawaii, selected an outstanding student-based on their leadership abilities, strong attendance, academic performance and unwavering commitment to community service.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Congress Guest Blog
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JUL
2

POLICY
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State afterschool policy update

By Erik Peterson

While Congress remains stalled with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the 2015 budget appropriations process; states and localities are experiencing considerable momentum. Among the jurisdictions making progress in advancing funding and policy for afterschool programs are Washington, D.C., New York state and California:

  • In Washington, D.C., the city council recently passed their FY2015 budget, including a modest increase in the D.C. Public Schools Out-of-School Time Program to support afterschool and summer learning programs, resulting in a total funding level of $8.4 million. Funding to support community-based organizations providing expanded learning programming was held stable and includes $10 million for 21st Century Community Learning Center grants and $3 million for the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation. The D.C. community schools initiative was funded at $500,000. 
  • In New York state last week the governor announced awardees for the first round of Extended Learning Time grants, while in New York City the mayor recently released details of a $145 million expansion of middle school afterschool programs as well as $52 million for the development of 40 community schools. The $24 million Extended Learning Time grants were awarded to nine school districts statewide, including NYC. The state Department of Education has posted a list of the winners on its website. The $52 million grant to launch the development of 40 innovative community schools will match comprehensive social services and learning programs with 40 high-need public schools across NYC. Coupled with pre-K for every child and expanded afterschool programs for middle school students, the mayor pledged to make community schools a key component of transforming the education system and lifting up every child.
  • In California last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced 333 programs will receive a combined $51 million in state and federal grants to provide expanded learning opportunities for students to bolster student learning outside of the regular school hours. In the latest round of funding, $51 million was distributed through three grants: the After School Education and Safety program, the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers—Elementary & Middle Schools program, and the state 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens program. More information on the awarded grants can be accessed through the California Department of Education’s Before & After School webpage. 
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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget ESEA Legislation State Policy Sustainability
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JUL
2

POLICY
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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passes Senate, strengthens supports for youth

By Erik Peterson

Last week the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The bipartisan, bicameral bill seeks to improve the nation’s workforce development system. As discussed in a previous blog, the legislation focuses in part on providing comprehensive supports and programming for out-of-school young people. Those provisions from Title I of WIOA include:

  • Expanding the definition of out-of-school youth to encompass young people ages 16 to 24 who are not attending school, have dropped out of school, and face extensive barriers to work and to completing their education. Title I targets 75 percent of youth funds to provide services for out-of-school youth.
  • Addresses eligibility issues that can make it difficult for local areas to develop comprehensive, cross-system approaches to serve youth who are most in need. Title I does so by expanding the definition of low-income individuals to include those who receive or are eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunches and adding an expansive definition for individuals with a barrier to employment. Title I also incorporates a special rule that allows young people living in high-poverty areas to be deemed eligible for services.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of youth funds (20 percent) to support work experiences for low-income and vulnerable young people.
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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Youth Development
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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
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate

By Erik Peterson

This week Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals ActS. 2527, which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs, making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program, addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities and by providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.

Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning Sustainability
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