Get your program recognized as a leader in STEM learning! Change the Equation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led coalition focused on advancing STEM literacy, is reopening STEMworks. The database is the premier tool for business leaders and other funders to identify and support exemplary programs that boost STEM interest and learning in the U.S.
Who’s eligible? Any STEM learning program that serves pre-K through 12th grade students and teachers, either in or out of school, is encouraged to apply for admission.* Each submission will be reviewed by WestEd, an independent, nonprofit research, development, and service organization, which will provide detailed and confidential feedback to each applicant on strengths and weaknesses of the application.
With only a few days before the Continuing Resolution funding the federal government expires on Wednesday, House and Senate appropriators unveiled the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014) Omnibus Appropriations bill last night. For the more than 8 million young people and their families that rely on afterschool and summer learning programs, the proposed Omnibus represents a step in the right direction. Most importantly, the majority of the FY2013 sequester cut to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is restored, and no language was included allowing the diversion of afterschool funds to other purposes. In addition, there are slight increases in other key funding streams that support afterschool programs.
Congress plans to pass an additional three day Continuing Resolution to allow time to consider and pass the FY2014 Omnibus bill. The Omnibus is a compromise between House and Senate appropriations committees and was made possible as a result of the budget deal struck between House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs last month, funding the government at $1 trillion through the end of September. Both the House and Senate must pass the Omnibus bill and the president must sign it before it becomes law.
In my previous blog post, I covered researchers’ insights into what tweens want in and expect from an afterschool arts program. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, focus groups and analysis, the authors of “Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts” shared the barriers that keep tweens from participating in afterschool arts programs and program aspects that tweens are most drawn to.
This week I want to take a look at the second part of the report that details what afterschool arts programs can do to address the needs and demands of urban tweens and better engage this hard to reach group. For this section of the report, authors conducted a literature review of afterschool arts programs; interviewed program providers, administration staff and researchers; and visited the sites of eight programs to create case studies for the report. Based on the collective information, 10 principles for effective, high-quality afterschool arts programs emerged:
Afterschool programs are integral partners in keeping kids active, motivated and healthy—both physically and mentally. An independent evaluation of A World Fit For Kids! (WFIT)—an afterschool program that provides healthy behaviors and youth development programs to students in economically disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles County—found that kids who participated in the program were physically active, made healthy food choices, became more self-confident and made gains in their academic performance. Key findings of the evaluation include:
- 77 percent of students in WFIT report that the program helped them feel motivated to participate in physical activities
- 8 in 10 students in the program share that WFIT helped them drink water more often and close to 7 in 10 students say that the program helped them to eat more fruit
- More than 80 percent of high schoolers and 75 percent of middle schoolers in the program say that WFIT helped them feel more confident, persevere and think about goals for the future
- More than 7 in 10 WFIT participants report that being involved in the program helped them complete their homework on time
- 81 percent of the high school and middle school students in the program say participating in WFIT helped them to get better grades
- Compared to high school seniors who never participated in WFIT, high school seniors who participated in WFIT at least 1 of the 4 years they were in school had higher graduation rates
The PISA 2012 scores were released last week—and it turns out that a decade of No Child Left Behind education policies and initiatives has helped us to... stay in place! Scores in math, science and reading for 15-year-old students in the United States were stagnant, but our overall rankings fell as the scores for students in other countries went up.
By Jen Rinehart
A new report from the Coalition for Community Schools highlights the prevalence of expanded learning opportunities, including afterschool and summer programs, in community schools—schools that unite with community partners to offer a range of supports for youth, families and communities with the goal of improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.
“The Growing Convergence of Community Schools and Expanded Learning Opportunities” confirms what afterschool and community school advocates have often touted: expanded learning opportunities are a key component of the community schools strategy. Based on a survey of community schools, the report finds:
- Close to 90 percent of the community school initiatives surveyed describe the expansion and improvement of expanded learning activities as part of their community schools strategy.
- Approximately one-third of respondents indicated that at least half of their work focuses on expanded learning opportunities (compared to all other possible opportunities and supports, such as health services, mental health services, and family and community engagement).
- Of those who offer expanded learning, 90 percent offer afterschool and nearly 70 percent offer summer programs. About one-quarter offer extended school day and expanded learning opportunities during the conventional school day.
The 2014 Visitor Studies Association Conference is to be held July 15-19, 2014, in Albuquerque, NM, around the theme Building Capacity for Evaluation: Individuals, Institutions, the Field.
For their 2014 conference, VSA invites the informal learning community to join them in creating a conference program that pushes the field of visitor studies forward by addressing the increasing interest in evaluation and the growing demand for evidence. This year, VSA will think strategically about how to continually build capacity for evaluation.
The deadline for submissions is: Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.
For more details and to submit a proposal, go to: http://visitorstudies.org/conference-overview/call-for-proposals
The arts can play an incredibly important role in a young person’s life. They can spark creativity and motivation in students—they are a way for young people to express themselves, to gain a better understanding of who they are as individuals, to build confidence and increase engagement in learning. Afterschool arts programs are a critical partner to help ensure that the arts—which encompass everything from dance to digital media arts to poetry slams and everything in-between—is accessible to all youth, especially those in low-income areas where participation is low.