By Jodi Grant
Kudos to Eric Schwartz, founding CEO of Citizen Schools, for authoring a book that highlights the value of the afterschool space and boldly points out that the greatest disparity of opportunity between students lies in unequal access to enrichment and learning opportunities outside of the traditional school classroom.
In his recently released book, The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools, Eric argues that the real achievement gap between low-income students and wealthier students stems from what they do with the time they spend outside of school. Upper-middle-class students are exposed to a variety of enrichment activities, and because of their parents, they have multiple opportunities to interact with leaders and role models. Lower-income students have limited access to any such resources.
By Luci Manning
CV CyberPatriots Test Skills Against Hundreds in Nation (The Spokesman-Review, Washington)
Central Valley High School students are learning to close computer network gaps that can allow hackers to sneak in thanks to the school’s CyberPatriots afterschool program focused on cyber security. CyberPatriot was created by the Air Force Association to encourage students to consider careers in cyber security and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. 17-year-old Riley Madrian wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Now, she’s hooked. “It’s like trapping someone who is super sneaky. It’s relevant,” Madrian told The Spokesman-Review. “It’s like what should be happening at Target and Home Depot to protect people from their identity being stolen.” Madrian had planned on a college major in music performance, but now she’s considering adding some computer science.
PS 39 Students Use Their Green Thumbs, Learn About Eating Well and Growing Heart-healthy Foods (Staten Island Advance, New York)
Students at PS 39 – many of whom were affected by Hurricane Sandy – are getting a hands-on lesson on growing, harvesting and eating healthy foods, the Staten Island Advance reports. Earlier this year the afterschool students planted the borough’s first teaching garden thanks to a partnership between the Staten Island YMCA and the American Heart Association. After planting tomatoes, mint, basil, squash, peppers and cucumbers, students made heart-healthy lettuce wraps from the freshly picked ingredients. PS 39 afterschool students were involved in the project from start to finish; they built and painted containers, filled them with soil, took care of watering and weeding, grew the various fruits and vegetables, harvested and ate them.
Piedmont Middle School Offering Coding Class (The Anniston Star, Alabama)
Eighth grade student Chris Chandler has already programmed at least six games in his free time thanks to the skills he’s acquired during Piedmont Middle School’s afterschool program. In weekly afterschool sessions students are learning using Google Computer Science First’s curriculum via Scratch programming, which is a simplified version of the coding languages offered in upper-level classes. Superintendent Matt Akin told The Anniston Star, “The earlier we can expose kids to STEM fields—in this case computer science—the better.” He continued, calling the afterschool program, “a neat way to get kids attracted to programming where normally they wouldn’t be attracted.”
Carnival Mentors Help Students Cruise Into A Brighter Future (The Miami Herald, Florida)
Student Earl Generato from Pembroke Pines never imagined he’d be able to attend a private university because of the tuition bill. “My sister is going to college soon, too, and my parents wouldn’t be able to pay for both our college tuitions,” he told The Miami Herald. “I didn’t want to overburden them.” However thanks to The Carnival Foundation, the charitable branch of Carnival Corp., and the foundation’s scholarship and mentoring program, Generato was able to do just that. Now finishing his first year as a University of Miami Stamps Leader Scholar, majoring in English and biomedical engineering, he credits Carnival with enabling him to continue his education. The Carnival Foundation recruits students who attend the HEAT Academy, an afterschool program for kids in Little Haiti and Little Havana. Those who maintain good academic standing are invited to join the high school mentoring program, in which students are paired with a Carnival mentor. Students, like Generato, are also eligible for scholarships.
On the heels of the new America After 3PM study that found that, despite rapid growth in afterschool participation, 1 in 5 children in the United States is unsupervised in the afternoons, students, parents, educators, community leaders, policy makers, business leaders and others rallied for afterschool programs on Thursday as part of the 15th annual Lights On Afterschool. The only nationwide rally for afterschool programs included more than 8,100 events in every corner of the country, and at U.S. military bases worldwide to highlight the many ways quality afterschool programs support children, families and communities.
America After 3PM found that there is huge unmet demand for afterschool programs; the parents of 19.4 million students said they would enroll their child, if an afterschool program were available. In response, in classrooms, community centers, science museums, parks and recreation centers, malls and other settings, more than one million people came together to celebrate and support the quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
By Jodi Grant
For every child enrolled in an afterschool program, two more would enroll if they could, according to parents. That’s among the findings from our new survey, the 2014 edition of America After 3PM spanning 30,000 American households.
In all, 10.2 million children are in afterschool programs, up from 6.5 million in 2004. But the unmet demand for afterschool—parents who want to enroll their child in a program but say they don’t have a program available—has increased over the last decade as well, with the parents of a projected 19.4 million children now saying they would enroll their child in a program if one were available to them. Demand is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars, spoke with reporters about the data and commented:
“Due to the fact that most students come from homes where both parents are working, we have a duty to provide safe havens for our children during the crucial hours from 3-6 pm. Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities. Reams of data show it, and I’ve seen it in my own work. These programs help kids with homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, help them to be physically fit, involve them in activities like rocketry and robotics, and much more.”
“Afterschool is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough,” Schwarzenegger added. “America After 3 PM shows that we are meeting only about one-third of the demand for afterschool programs. We need federal, state and local governments, philanthropies, and businesses to step up and provide the resources that will put us on the path to making afterschool available to all.”
Highlights from the new survey:
Guest Blog by Reinaldo Llano, director of corporate outreach and special projects at Bright House Networks. Reinaldo leads community relations at Bright House Networks, one of the nation's largest cable and Internet providers.
Do you know a high school student whose creative genius is aspiring to unfold?
It’s been said that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. They’re also tomorrow’s innovators and inventors. They are OUR future. They are the ones who can help create new opportunities for our local economies to prosper and flourish.
We are proud to support Bright Ideas STEM from Today's Youth, a multi-state competition where students dream up the coolest inventions to make their own life, community or even the world more awesome and show how STEM—that's science, technology, engineering and math—can bring their idea to life!
By Luci Manning
New Bowie Library Program Stops the “Shushing” (The Gazette, Maryland)
The new Teen Zone program at the Bowie Branch Library is allowing students to play board games, eat, listen to music, and even talk with friends above a whisper. The free program launched in August and gives teens a supervised place to meet up after school to do homework or relax every day between 2:30 and 6:00 p.m. The library’s new Youth Services Coordinator Joslyn Jones tells The Gazette that since Teen Zone launched, there has been a reduction in students loitering outside the library unsupervised. “This is a space for them to decompress… we want them to feel welcome,” she said.
UGA Team Begins After-school Enrichment Program at Two Clarke County Elementary Schools (UGA Today, Georgia)
A partnership between University of Georgia (UGA) faculty and the Clark County School District is giving elementary students a chance to participate in a new afterschool program aimed at improving health and stimulating learning in math and reading. The Physical Activity and Learning program is funded from a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. A decade of research showing that children’s increased physical activity can lead to higher academic gains went into creating the program’s curriculum. “It’s fun to watch children learn and grown, and it’s an important opportunity for our UGA students to learn to engage in and evaluate experimental practices as teachers,” Paula Schwanenflugel, a professor of educational psychology and part of the interdisciplinary community service project at UGA, told UGA Today. The program aims to be completely sustainable at the end of the five year grant.
UC Offering After-School STEAM Program (The Register-Herald, West Virginia)
Middle- and high-school students are being offered an afterschool program that incorporates science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts (STEAM) working with student mentors from the University of Charleston-Beckley campus. The Science Behind the Art Experience (SBAE) will engage students in integrated science lab activities, art-making sessions, writing and critical reflection. “For the southern West Virginia youth, SBAE will fulfill a need for supplemental art education and will contribute to the increase in science literacy,” Dr. Aida E. Jimenez Esquilin, assistant professor of biology, told The Register-Herald. The program is funded with a Beckley Area Foundation grant and also supported by funds from the Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
Soccer Teams to ‘Snack it Up’ With Veggies, Fruits (Associated Press, New Hampshire)
New Hampshire soccer coaches are receiving coupon booklets for discounted fruits and vegetables thanks to the new “Snack it Up” program designed to stress more healthful eating options. Eric Redder, technical director of New Hampshire Soccer Association, tells the Associated Press, “We are thrilled to participate in Snack It Up so that our coaches can help youth athletes fuel up on healthier snacks more affordably.” Snack it Up was created as an initiative of ChildObesity180 at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition to help coaches and afterschool program coordinators prepare better snacks through a supportive team of community partners.
By Taylor Moore
Iridescent has recently released an online platform of STEM curriculum to help scientists and engineers to better connect with students and enable them to create together. The premise of the platform revolves around three key concepts: curiosity, courage and persistence toward a solution. Curiosity Machine provides students with access to content and mentoring that is critical in developing 21st century critical thinking skills. Schools can use Curiosity Machine to allow students to view videos, read instructions on experiments, upload their own videos, answer questions, receive feedback from mentors, and earn badges along the way! Additionally, the program has one-on-one mentoring support, engineering design challenges based on actual and innovation science and engineering work, and even includes professional development sessions for teachers and staff. Curiosity Machine creates a community for families, students and mentors to learn together and work toward inspiring children to become inventors, creators, builders and engineers.
In the United States, 7.5 million students miss 10 percent of the school year. That’s 135 million days total. More than 40 organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, are working in partnership to raise awareness about the connection between attendance and academic achievement by celebrating Attendance Awareness Month. Schools and organizations across the country are putting on events this month. A map of events, a toolkit for putting on your own event and suggestions for media outreach can be found on the Attendance Awareness Month website.
Afterschool has been shown to have a significant impact on student’s school day attendance rates: