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AUG
26

IN THE FIELD
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Deadline extended! Nominate a program for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award by Sept. 6!

By Nikki Yamashiro

If you haven’t heard about the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award yet, you’re in luck! If you know of an afterschool program that is providing year-round support, has a strong literacy focus and is helping improve its students’ reading, writing and critical thinking skills, you now have until Sept. 6 to nominate it for a chance to win a $10,000 award. A steady stream of nominations has been rolling in and we can’t wait to see what other afterschool programs we’ll find out about over the course of the next week and a half.

Together with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, we are excited to hear from the field about the work taking place around building students’ literacy skills and to recognize one program with a $10,000 award. This is a great opportunity to showcase the achievements and impact of your program or of a program with which you are familiar.

We encourage nominators to download a copy of the nomination form and review the questions prior to filling out and submitting the form online. Be sure to visit our awards page to learn more about the eligibility requirements.

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learn more about: Competition Funding Opportunity Literacy
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AUG
21

POLICY
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Comparing afterschool supports in the House and Senate ESEA reauthorization bills

By Jillian Luchner

It might officially be summer recess in Congress but hard work on ESEA reauthorization continues. For advocates in the field that means site visits, editorials and letter writing campaigns, all aimed at preserving the Senate 21st CCLC language. On Capitol Hill it means preparing for the conference committee which will create a single bill from the House (H.R. 5) and Senate (S. 1177) versions that passed through Congress in the late spring and early summer.

Rep. John Kline (R-MN) will chair the conference committee, which operates a rotating chairmanship between House and Senate leadership. The conference committee should also include Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), the chairs and ranking members of each chamber’s education-focused committee. Other members have yet to be selected.

The two bills being conferenced would both make significant changes to the current ESEA legislation as highlighted in a recent CRS report. The committee will have to negotiate a number of controversial and politically polarized issues such as mandatory partnerships, Title I portability, equity, accountability and funding formulas. Moreover, there is a major distinction in fund allocations. The Senate bill maintains many of the formula and competitive grant programs that support specific initiatives in education. The House bill creates aggregate block grants which distribute a specified amount of funding to a state for a broad variety of discretionary uses. While the Senate bill funds most programs with “such sums as may be available,” the House bill sets specific authorization amounts for each title of the bill.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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AUG
20

LIGHTS ON
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Spotlight on Lights On Afterschool events: What programs are planning with two months to prepare

By Lindsay Damiano

There are more than two months until Lights On Afterschool 2015, and more than 600 programs have already registered their events and started planning! With all of these incredible programs sharing their plans with us, it’s difficult to showcase just a few. The events below highlight what programs across the country (and beyond!) are doing to celebrate Lights On Afterschool. Once you have some ideas, register today and let us help you plan your event for the biggest national Lights On celebration yet!

  • The Naval Base of Ventura County Child & Youth Program in Camarillo, California has started planning its Lights On Afterschool event as a Harvest Festival, where there will be activities like pumpkin painting, face painting, 4-H science projects and carnival games. The program will also use the event as a fundraiser, as both families and community members are encouraged to attend!
  • The Highland Park, Illinois town square will be lit up thanks to a Lights On Afterschool electricity science experiment by Family Network, a Family Focus Center afterschool program.
  • The Baldwin County High School 21st CCLC Program will be hosting a community-wide Fall Festival and Zombie Fun Run for Lights On Afterschool to build awareness of the program throughout the Bay Minette, Alabama community!
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learn more about: 21st CCLC Health and Wellness Science Arts
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AUG
20

STEM
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The latest in STEM learning research: August 2015

By Melissa Ballard

This month’s new batch of research briefs from the Relating Research to Practice (RR2P) project includes a diverse set of topics: how afterschool educators inserted science into girls’ discussions of relationships and friendships; why leveraging learning across school and out-of-school settings is important for equity; and how conversations between students and STEM professionals enhance middle-schoolers’ understanding of math.

RR2P also released a new Connected Collection, which is a group of briefs around a hot topic in science education. This collection, “Identity and Interest Development,” helps practitioners think about how to authentically engage youth in science learning and maintain their interest long-term.

Don’t miss next week’s webinar, “Digging into Research: Interest and Identity in STEM,” on Thursday, August 27 at 2p.m. EDT. We’ll be joined by researchers Phillip Bell of the University of Washington and Deborah Fields from Utah State University. Register here.

For more updates, follow the RR2P project on Twitter and Facebook

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learn more about: Science
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AUG
19

LIGHTS ON
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"What the heck are all these light bulbs about?"

By Rachel Clark

One of the 50 light bulb sculptures on display across Lincoln, NE. Photo via Public Art Lincoln.

To celebrate 25 years of successful outcomes and illuminate the need for quality afterschool programs in Lincoln and across the country, Nebraska’s Lighthouse afterschool program took on an ambitious project spanning several months and more than 3,000 miles.

Partnering with nationally recognized artist Liz Shea-McCoy, Lighthouse commissioned 50 light bulb sculptures to be placed across the city of Lincoln. To take the project nationwide, Michener took the art show on the road last week, hauling a six-foot-tall, 2,500-pound light bulb sculpture from Lincoln all the way to Edison, NJ—home of the Edison Museum, which pays tribute to the light bulb’s creator, Thomas Edison. Michener made stops in Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York before arriving in Edison, generating curiosity and discussion every stop of the way.

Michener wanted to get people to ask a simple question: “What the heck are all these light bulbs about?”

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learn more about: Arts Community Partners
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AUG
19

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 19, 2015

By Luci Manning

The STEM Gap (Los Angeles Times, California)

In the Los Angeles Times, Education Secretary Arne Duncan writes about the future of STEM education: “Across the country, there are disparities in students’ access to the full range of math and science courses… [But] I’m optimistic about the future of STEM teaching and learning, in California and throughout the country. The Galt Joint Union Elementary School District… is increasing access to STEM with after-school clubs that offer virtual courses in subjects such as mechanical engineering…. Additionally, four of the nation’s largest youth development organizations – Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc., YMCA and the National 4-H Council – are establishing a partnership to ignite the interest of traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM. This partnership will provide low-income and minority students and young girls with access to mobile STEM labs, science expos and STEM-themed summer camps.”

Program Helps Immigrant Children Hone Language, Cultural Skills (Columbus Dispatch, Ohio)

For almost ten years, Columbus State Community College has been working with immigrant and refugee children in an afterschool and summer program to help them overcome the barriers they face after coming to the U.S. Kids receive help with reading, writing and homework, while also playing games, touring colleges and going on field trips. “It’s as much teaching them life skills and having fun as it is about the academics,” Allison Wannemacher, site specialist for the Wedgewood Village Apartments branch of the program, told the Columbus Dispatch. The program also offers ESL classes, health and nutrition workshops, interpretation/translation services and social-service referrals for parents.

New Flyers Coach Gives Back to Community at Youth Hockey Clinic (Philadelphia Daily News, Pennsylvania)

Eighth- and ninth-graders of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation were visited by a special guest the other day – new Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol. He advised the students on how to translate lessons learned in hockey to the rest of their life. At Snider Hockey’s After School Excellence Program, student-athletes receive educational help and get to spend time improving their hockey skills. “I think, probably, as a young person, you walk away from here each and every day feeling like you’ve accomplished something,” Hakstol told the Philadelphia Daily News. “And I think that’s something that really helps a young person grow and feel good about themselves.” The program is free for students who maintain a C grade average and complete 15 hours of community service.

Student Scientists Show NASA They Have the Right Stuff (Hometown Life, Michigan)

Four students from the Hicks Elementary School Bright Futures afterschool program impressed NASA engineers by creating a multiple purpose crew vehicle (MPCV) to return astronauts home safely from a mission. The students designed, tested and marketed the vehicle as part of the NASA/U.S. Department of Education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Challenge, a program meant to increase and support public engagement of youth in STEM. The elementary students constructed their MPCV using aluminum foil, bubble wrap, a paper bag and pipe cleaners, then tested it by dropping it from various heights. “This was a way to engage students,” Eastern Michigan University 21st Century Community Learning Centers assistant director Maria Mitter told Hometown Life. “They did real work and realized how exciting science can be.” 

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learn more about: Department of Education Health and Wellness NASA Science
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AUG
17

POLICY
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Iowa on the federal role for children in 2016

By Jillian Luchner

What does Iowa think about 2016?

Every Child Matters and the Child and Family Policy Center released the top line results of a poll of Iowan voters collecting popular opinion on child and family issues. A full 65% of voters were “very” or “mostly skeptical” that our children’s generation will have a better life than our own. Perhaps this is why they also recognized how important it is to invest in our children today. 84% would like to see sustained (32%) and increased (52%) federal investments in children’s health, education and nutrition.

Additional findings:

  • 77% of voters believe improving health, education and well-being of children is a high priority for the president to address.
  • 62% said they would be favorably impressed by a candidate who made afterschool a major element of their agenda. When split by gender, 66% of women and 58% of men agreed.
  • 67% reported a favorable impression towards a candidate prioritizing child care assistance for working families, and 77% felt strongly about support for child abuse prevention.
  • When asked if the federal government ought to focus more on the needs of children or the elderly, 53% of voters said children, while 24% said elderly. Even among those 65 and older, 49% preferred a focus on children rather than the elderly (22%).

Elevating children’s issues in the contest for the presidency is essential to protecting children’s programs and supports once a new candidate takes office. The Afterschool Alliance has published some good practices to keep election conversations focused on opportunities for our kids.

In the meantime, be sure to email Congress and urge them to invest in our country's future!

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learn more about: Federal Policy
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AUG
14

LIGHTS ON
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Looking for a bright idea for your Lights On Afterschool event? Take part in 4-H NYSD!

By Rachel Clark

On October 22, a million people will come together at thousands of events across the country to shine a light on the need for quality afterschool programs. We want this to be the biggest and best Lights On Afterschool yet, so we need you to register your event and commit to keeping the Lights On!

If you’re still looking for a great idea for your celebration, why not try incorporating STEM with 4-H National Youth Science Day? Every year, 4-H NYSD offers an interactive learning experience to engage thousands of youth nationwide in conducting the National Science Experiment. This year, the national 4-H NYSD event will take place on October 7—but you can also incorporate it into your Lights On Afterschool event!

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
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