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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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JAN
11
2017

FUNDING
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Funding opportunity: SCE Digital Learning Challenge

By Elizabeth Tish

This month, the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) is seeking afterschool program partners to join its Digital Learning Challenge. Selected programs will receive awards of up to $100,000 to support their work developing teens’ 21st century skills using digital media. Awardees will participate in a two-year learning community that will “explore how digital media can promote the development of skills to prepare the next generation for success.”

What is the Digital Learning Challenge?

Over the next two years, the Digital Learning Challenge will bring together the selected afterschool programs, an evaluation team, human resource professionals, and digital product developers and distributors to “explore what it means to be a prepared and skilled 21st century citizen.” The learning community “will unpack the practices and programs of top afterschool organizations that support teens as they build, produce, and remix media, and how these activities connect to opportunities and obstacles faced beyond the program.”

The goal of the initiative is to engage youth in more meaningful learning experiences. Through this work with afterschool programs, SCE hopes to analyze and articulate best practices to share with educators, informal learning practitioners, and others with a stake in using digital tools.

To participate, afterschool programs will need to make a two-year commitment, including three in-person convenings and three online meetings between June 2017 and September 2018. SCE will cover all travel and convening expenses related to participation.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Funding Opportunity
JAN
10
2017

FUNDING
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New grant program: Up to $100,000 for middle school OST programs!

By Dan Gilbert

The New York Life Foundation has created a new $1.95M fund to support middle school afterschool, summer or expanded learning programs serving disadvantaged youth over the next three years. This year, the new Aim High grant program will provide $750,000 to support 18 awards nationwide—take a look to see which opportunity is a good fit for you, and apply!

Grant categories:

  • $100,000 over two years – 4 awards to be made to organizations with annual budgets of $500,000 or greater
  • $50,000 over two years - 4 awards to be made to organizations with annual budgets of between $250,000 and $500,000
  • $15,000 one-year grant – 10 awards will be made to programs that demonstrate promising family engagement strategies run by organizations with annual budgets of more than $150,000

Read the full application and eligibility requirements, and join our webinar on January 25 at 2 PM ET to learn more about this opportunity.  Applications due by February 17, 2017.

Grant funds may be used for technical assistance, enhancing direct service activities, and/or program expansion. Applicants for the two-year grants will need to describe how programs support youth in the transition to the ninth grade, specifically around indicators of success such as on-time promotion; school attendance rates; improved behavior, grades and test scores; and/or the development of social and emotional skills.

The New York Life Foundation invests in middle school OST programs to help economically disadvantaged eighth-graders get to ninth grade on time. Research has shown that for disadvantaged students, more learning time in the form of high-quality afterschool, expanded-day, and summer programs leads to greater achievement, better school attendance, and more engaged students.

The Foundation has invested more than $240 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations since its founding in 1979, including supporting organizations that provide nearly 500,000 middle school youth with afterschool and summer programming. Foundation grants have supported an additional 6 million hours of OST programming. The new grant opportunities provide a way for the Foundation to support smaller programs in communities across the nation.

The Afterschool Alliance is administering the grant program on behalf of the Foundation. A panel of external reviewers will assess applicants. Awardees will be notified in May 2017.

Questions? Email Dan Gilbert at dgilbert@afterschoolalliance.org.

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learn more about: Youth Development
JAN
5
2017

RESEARCH
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When talking about social and emotional learning, what language works best?

By Dan Gilbert

We all know that high quality afterschool and summer learning programs provide kids with the skills that they need to succeed in school and life. While the concept sounds simple, finding the best way to describe these skills and their development is anything but. Some people use phrases such as "social and emotional learning (SEL)" or "character development." Others refer to "21st century," "noncognitive" or "non-academic skills." With such a wide array of terms available, it can be hard to know how to best describe the set of skills youth develop in programs.

New research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation provides some helpful insights. For the study, EDGE Research performed desktop research, interviewed more than 45 leaders in the field, held focus groups with parents, and surveyed more than 1,600 professionals in the field. Their findings provide a valuable lens on how educators, afterschool and summer program leaders, policy makers, and parents think about these skills and what terms and messaging frames are most useful in communicating their value.

Key findings

Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” term for describing these skills.

Two terms—"social and emotional learning" and "social-emotional and academic learning"—are suggested as the likely best options because they were relatively familiar and clear to the audiences with which they were tested, and were generally viewed in a positive light.

The most compelling messaging strategy is to frame the skills in terms of how they benefit children by naming specific outcomes. For example, you could describe how developing social and emotional skills helps children succeed in school and in life by providing them with the ability to manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and navigate social environments, which allows them to fulfill their potential.

Interested in learning more about the study and the other terms and messaging frames that were tested? Read the full analysis and download the webinar recording on the Wallace Foundation website.

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learn more about: Marketing Youth Development
JAN
4
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 4, 2017

By Luci Manning

Our Club Boys Get a Trim and a Treat (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas)

Sixteen boys in the Our Club afterschool program went back to school this week with spiffy new haircuts thanks to local barbers. The afterschool program works with homeless and low-income students through Our House, a nonprofit that helps homeless people and the near homeless find jobs. The barbers came from a number of local barbershops and barber colleges and provided the haircuts for free. Fly Societe Barbershop’s Michaele Hutchings has mentored boys at Our House before, and saw this gesture as a natural extension of that work. “I’ve been wanting to do this for years now, to show these kids somebody out there still cares,” he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Mom Channels Grief to Help Others (Chicago Tribune, Illinois)

Patricia Frontain lost her 14-year-old son Patrick to gang violence two years ago. In his memory, she is trying to help other young people avoid his fate through Patrick Lives On… To End Gun Violence, a nonprofit that supports afterschool programs, summer camps and other activities to steer young people away from gangs. She hopes that providing scholarships, classes and fun activities will give youth an outlet they might not otherwise be able to afford. “We all see the importance that afterschool programming can be for kids… whether it be something athletically or academically,” Rosemont Park District program director Omar Camarillo told the Chicago Tribune. “We want kids to be involved.”

Kids Create Treasures from Trash at Holiday Camp (Wyoming County Press Examiner, Pennsylvania)

Ten children ages five through 12 kept busy over the holiday break by making toys, games and sculptures out of recycled items like toilet paper tubes and bits of scrap wood. Steve and Amy Colley, artists in residence at the Dietrich Theater, sponsor the holiday camp each year to encourage kids to be productive during their holiday break and make something valuable out of items that would normally be thrown away. “The class teaches kids problem-solving,” Amy Colley told the Wyoming County Press Examiner. “It teaches them how to put things together and balance.” The Colleys also offer afterschool programs and summer camps for youths that take on similar projects.

Teens Find Path to Medical Careers (Chino Hills Champion, California)

A new afterschool program at four Chino Valley district junior high schools is introducing students to possible futures as doctors, nurses, home health aides and more. Junior Upcoming Medical Professionals (JUMP) serves more than 400 area students, exposing them to the wide spectrum of health care careers while also building leadership skills and improving professional demeanor. JUMP is student-run, with some advisement from teachers, and it aims to build interest in the rapidly growing field of health care among Inland Empire youths. “Medical professionals are trying to get kids interested in any aspect of the medical field,” Program manager Michael Sacoto told the Chino Hills Champion. “The data say reach them at a younger age and they will want to ask questions.” 

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment Youth Development
JAN
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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4 ways you can connect with newly elected officials

By Elizabeth Tish

Tempe, AZ Mayor Mark Mitchell poses with students of Broadmor Kid Zone

This month, elected officials around the country step into office. This is an important time to reach out to your newly elected officials and remind them of afterschool’s role in your community, district or state. Offer to be a resource on the issue, and invite them to come see your program firsthand.

Not sure where to start? Here are some basic tips for reaching out to your representatives at all levels.

  1. Review statements, platforms and media coverage to make sure you understand the winning candidate’s position. Find a way to connect afterschool to their passion. Is their chief concern is creating jobs in your community? Tell them how afterschool offers workforce development opportunities.
  2. Write the official to offer to be a resource on afterschool, and to set up a site visit to a local program. You can use our sample letter to get started. It is often helpful to provide information about the impact of afterschool in your community—and it’s easy to do so with data points about afterschool in your state from the America After 3PM dashboard. Facts combined with relatable anecdotes can work together to create a strong narrative about the impact of afterschool. If you work with a program that receives 21st Century Community Learning Center funding, you should also be sure let them know about the impact it has.
  3. Invite the official to visit an afterschool program. When Afterschool Ambassador Kim Templeman contacted Congressman Tom Cole to visit her program, she called and left emails with his office. A representative from his office visited her program, and then encouraged the Congressman to attend too! During his visit, Rep. Cole saw firsthand what afterschool looks like, and Kim was able to show him the direct impact of federal funds on her program. This type of personal interaction can help any official understand more of what you do and how you do it—whether they represent you on a federal, state or local level. Before the official leaves, make sure to give them materials to take back to their office so they can start making the case for afterschool. Check out our advocacy basics to learn more.
  4. Stay in touch! After your visit, write the official to thank them for attending, and reiterate any points that you think are important for them to remember. You might also think about thanking them publicly, through social media or a blog about their visit. This is a good place to provide photos and stories, so those who aren’t able to physically attend your program can see what it looks like as well. Don’t forget to follow up, so that when you need support, you have a warm relationship to ask for it.

Want to make an impact while you’re in the process of reaching out to officials? Contact Congress, sign the petition, or write your newspaper.

Want to learn more about the impact of the election?  Read about education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, how the election played out at the state level, and the new Congress.  

DEC
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Looking back at 2016 in the afterschool field

By Rachel Clark

2016 was an eventful year for the United States and the world, and the changes that were set into motion this year are impacting the afterschool field just as they’ve affected communities across the country.

As we look ahead to the year to come, take a moment to bid farewell to 2016 and look back at some of the biggest moments of the year.

  1. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Election Day was easily the most consequential moment of 2016 for our country. Take a look at our early analysis of what the Trump Administration could mean for the afterschool field.
  2. A new Congress was elected. Though Donald Trump’s victory was the biggest story on Election Day, the afterschool field should pay close attention to the 115th Congress, which is set to make big moves in the next several months. Learn what afterschool advocates should look for in the first few months of 2017.
  3. New research highlighted the wide-ranging impact of America’s afterschool programs. This year, we finished up the 2014 America After 3PM series with our first-ever special reports on afterschool in rural America and afterschool in communities of concentrated poverty. New reports also highlighted the impacts of afterschool STEM and the state of computer science education in afterschool.
  4. Lights On Afterschool partnered with two NBA teams to kick off the 2016 celebration. In one of our most exciting Lights On kickoffs to date, we joined NBA Math Hoops to celebrate afterschool with a Math Hoops tournament before the Golden State Warriors faced off against the Sacramento Kings in San Jose, Calif. The tournament winners—and the beginning of the national rally for afterschool programs—were even recognized at halftime!
  5. Notable shifts occurred in state legislatures. With party control switching in seven chambers and voters in two states passing three ballot initiatives that could impact afterschool funding, November 8 was an important day at the ballot box for many states.
  6. President-elect Trump announced his nominee for education secretary. Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist and former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan, is a longtime school choice advocate whose family foundation has supported local afterschool providers in the past.
  7. Diverse partnerships brightened Lights On Afterschool 2016. From the tenth annual lighting of the Empire State Building in honor of afterschool to a Senate resolution recognizing the celebration, partnerships at the local, state and national levels made this year’s rally shine.

What was the biggest moment of 2016 for you and your afterschool program? We want to hear from you! Share a photo of your favorite or most important memory on Instagram and tag @afterschool4all for a chance to be featured. 

DEC
23
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating our AmeriCorps VISTAs' 2016 accomplishments

By Andrea Szegedy-Maszak

Members of the VISTA team gathered on the National Mall in September.

For the last five years, the Afterschool Alliance has been a proud sponsor organization for nationwide AmeriCorps VISTA projects. VISTA, which stands for “Volunteers in Service to America,” is a 50-year-old service program with the central mission of alleviating poverty through capacity building for nonprofit organizations. VISTA members are considered full-time federal volunteers during their one-year term of service.

Our VISTA program—and the scope of our VISTAs’ work to support the afterschool field—has grown significantly over the past five years. Most recently, we’ve added VISTAs dedicated to supporting the STEM Ecosystem Initiative, as well as VISTAs focusing on mentoring opportunities for young men of color. Read on to learn more about our VISTAs’ work and a few highlights from 2016.

Our VISTAs’ major highlights from 2016

Oklahoma STEM Ecosystem VISTAs Sabrina Bevins and Aleia McNaney have taken on leadership roles in the planning of a Women in STEM book club and event series surrounding the release of the film Hidden Figures, culminating with a screening of the film. Sabrina has signed on a number of female STEM professionals to mentor young girls in Tulsa over the course of the program.

Thanks to Sabrina’s successful partner outreach, Cox Media has agreed to run four radio campaigns in promotion of the program, and a local theater company has donated a screening room that seats more than 400. Aleia has been spearheading communications efforts for the Hidden Figures program, including designing promotional materials for a book drive held Tuesday, November 29 in support of the book club.

New Jersey Meals VISTA Jaimie Held has been making strides in expanding afterschool and summer meals for kids and families in Newark, N.J. Jaimie created partnerships with local food banks to host afterschool and summer meals open house events in 2017. She also scheduled an afterschool and summer meals open house in January 2017 at Newark’s Bolden Student Center to recruit new afterschool and summer meal sites.

DEC
22
2016

FUNDING
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New online resource: Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere

By Elizabeth Tish

Are you or your afterschool program concerned about preventing youth violence in your community? Then STRYVE (Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere) might be the right tool for you. STRYVE is an online space with everything practitioners and their team members need to create, edit, and save a customized youth violence prevention plan. Through STRYVE, you can access video examples from other communities working in violence prevention that provide real-life examples for the strategies discussed.

STRYVE is a national initiative led by the Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The initiative provides direction at the national, state, and local levels on how to prevent youth violence with a public health approach, action that is comprehensive and driven by multiple sectors, and the use of prevention strategies that are based on the best available research evidence.

What is youth violence?

STRYVE defines youth violence as “when young people aged 10 to 24 years intentionally use physical force or power in order to threaten or cause physical or psychological harm to others.” Youth violence is a general term that includes many behaviors, such as fighting, bullying, threats with weapons, gang-related violence, and perpetrating homicide.

Why does youth violence matter?

  • Young people are dying prematurely and getting hurt at alarming rates.
  • Youth cannot grow into productive citizens and a developed workforce if they are unable to learn.
  • Youth violence and crime hurt everyone in a community—youth, adult residents, and businesses.
  • Costs of youth violence limit resources to achieve community goals.
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learn more about: Youth Development