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APR
27
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 27, 2016

By Luci Manning

Getting Their Hands Dirty (Quad-City Times, Iowa)

Students at Frances Willard Elementary School, Rock Island will get to enjoy squash, corn, green beans, strawberries and rhubarb this fall thanks to the work of 16 kids in the school’s afterschool program. The garden project is run by three local AmeriCorps workers as part of a collection of educational programs they provide to the community through the Nahant Marsh environmental education center. “The project usually involves the kids getting more connected to the outdoors and fostering stewardship of our natural world,” AmeriCorps worker Grace Griffin told the Quad-City Times. The students will tend the garden throughout the summer then harvest the produce this fall.

After School Is ‘Sweet Spot’ to Draw Girls to STEM (Youth Today)

High school sophomores Mandy Lee, Joan Monti and Xiu Ti Wang first began to identify themselves as scientists when they collected DNA from strawberries, visited the American Museum of Natural History and examined rocks as part of Girl Scout Troop 3106. Their Scout leader Maryann Stimmer sees the Girl Scouts and other afterschool programs as the key to unlocking the scientific potential of girls. Rather than focusing on student performance like regular-day teachers, afterschool staff can focus on identity, which is a bigger predictor of whether students will go into science and math fields, according to Stimmer. “After school is the sweet spot for STEM,” she told Youth Today.

State Grant to Help Bellingham Students Learn with Nature (Bellingham Herald, Washington)

Earlier this week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee joined a group of students from Northern Heights Elementary School as they explored the forest near their school, catching garter snakes and playing hide and seek behind trees and bushes. The outing, part of Wild Whatcom’s afterschool program, followed Inslee’s announcement that the nonprofit will receive a $20,000 No Child Left Inside grant from the state’s Parks and Recreation Commission to expand its outdoor education programs. “The evidence shows—and there is good evidence of this—that small, little experiences like this really turns kids on to science, turns them on to nature, turns them on to what’s wild in our state,” Gov. Inslee told the Bellingham Herald.

Adams Youth Center Kids Give Back on Earth Day by Making Reusable Bags Packed with Food (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

The Adams Youth Center Inc.’s afterschool program did its share to help the environment this Earth Day by making 40 reusable bags through The BagShare Project, which produces eco-friendly bags made from recycled materials to encourage people to use fewer plastic bags. Volunteers at the Council of Aging also participated in the project, and together the two groups made over 100 reusable bags. “The bags are made by 6-year-olds, teens, tweens and elders, demonstrating that greening up/reusing is everyone’s responsibility,” The BagShare Project founder Leni Fried told the Berkshire Eagle. The bags were delivered with monthly food supplies for people in need across the area in honor of Earth Day. 

APR
27
2016

POLICY
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Child nutrition reauthorization bill introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

On April 20th, Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education introduced a House child nutrition reauthorization bill on behalf of the majority on the House Education and Workforce Committee. The bill would reauthorize the federal child nutrition programs including the Child and Adult Food Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals program and the Summer Food Service Program; however, many of the proposed changes could result in children no longer being able to access the nutritious meals they need to learn and be healthy.

Among the general provisions in the bill of major concern:

  • Significantly weakening the community eligibility provision (CEP). Community eligibility is a federal option in its second year of nationwide implementation that reduces administrative work and increases school lunch and breakfast access in high-poverty schools. The bill proposes to substantially reduce the number of high-poverty schools that are eligible to implement community eligibility, which would impact approximately 7,000 of the 18,000 schools currently participating in the program. 11,000 additional schools not currently participating would lose the option to implement community eligibility in future years.
  • Increasing verification requirements. The bill dramatically increases school meal application verification requirements in ways that inevitably would cause eligible students to lose access to free or reduced-price school meals. Under the proposal, the number of household applications to be verified would increase significantly for many school districts, creating paperwork burdens for schools and families. A disproportionate number of vulnerable families, such as those who are homeless, migrant, immigrant or have limited English proficiency, would fall through the cracks in the process and lose access to school meals even though they are eligible.
  • Failing to address shortfalls in the summer food program (especially from an out-of-school time perspective). The streamlining provision in the bill does not allow nonprofit organizations and local government agencies (that are not schools) to operate the Summer Food Service Program year-round. Instead, sponsors receive the lower CACFP reimbursement rate and fewer sites are eligible in order to qualify for streamlining. Rather than making it easier for providers to offer meals seamlessly throughout the calendar year, the proposed provision would result in fewer programs offering meals to children in need due to the limited eligibility and lower reimbursement rate. 

In contrast, the Senate child nutrition reauthorization bill that passed the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year would instead streamline summer and afterschool meal coordination in a manner that would allow afterschool meal sites to choose to operate year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. This will allow sponsors to keep an adequate reimbursement rate, maintain eligibility, operate one program rather than two, and significantly reduce duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules protecting the new school meal nutrition standards that are improving our children’s health and the school nutrition environment. The Afterschool Alliance has strongly recommended such a provision.

The House bill could be marked up by the House Education and the Workforce Committee in the coming weeks. You can voice your opinion on the bill to your representative via our action center

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learn more about: Congress Health and Wellness Nutrition
APR
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: The LOVE Club

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this Afterschool Spotlight, part of a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For 12 years, Dr. A. Michael Shaw earned praise for his work as an educator and mentor in his hometown of New Orleans, even earning the honor of Teacher of the Year. After Hurricane Katrina’s devastating arrival in 2005, however, he made the difficult decision to make a new start in St. Louis. But while some things change, other stay the same—his commitment to helping disadvantaged youth remained strong.

“I realized that young people need help everywhere,” said Dr. Shaw. “They all face the same challenges, and they all need the confidence to believe in themselves.”

Dr. Shaw, who is currently Dean of Students at Jennings Junior High School in St. Louis, brought with him from New Orleans the concept for an afterschool program to show kids the world of possibilities one can achieve through education, hard work and self-confidence. The Lifting Our Valuable Esteem (LOVE) Club currently works toward this goal as a part of the Jennings School District’s “Stars and Heroes” afterschool program, which is funded by a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The Stars and Heroes program also offers a number of other opportunities for students after school, from golf to robotics.

The LOVE Club focuses on encouraging kids to think beyond their current circumstances and reach for new possibilities by introducing them to professional adults from various walks of life. Visitors to the LOVE Club have included attorneys, doctors, policemen, business leaders and restaurant owners, all of whom engaged in lively Q&A sessions with the participants.

“The speakers share with the kids what they do, what it takes to do what they do, and what students should focus on in school in order to get a job like theirs one day,” Dr. Shaw explained.

APR
25
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Tomorrow Together: A call for service, empathy and unity this 9/11

By Ursula Helminski

This September marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11. We are proud to join 9/11 Day and a coalition of more than 20 other organizations to encourage service, empathy and unity through a new initiative called Tomorrow Together. Tomorrow Together will include large-scale service projects across the nation on September 11, 2016, bringing together a diverse community of people to help address hunger in America and other important societal issues:  

  • In Washington, D.C., volunteers will help pack more than one million meals for at-risk seniors, children, veterans and others.
  • Millions of educators will receive free educational service-learning materials that assist in teaching empathy, through a collaboration with the Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative and the National Youth Leadership Council.  
  • At the college level, The George Washington University will help organize other universities and colleges to participate in 9/11 Day.

9/11 Day is also releasing public service announcements (PSAs) featuring 14-year-old Hillary O'Neill from Norwalk, CT, one of more than 13,000 children born in the United States on the day of the tragedy, September 11, 2001. In the PSAs, O'Neill urges the nation to see the anniversary of 9/11 as a day to work together to do good deeds. View her message on YouTube.  

9/11 Day co-founder and executive vice president Jay Winuk perfectly summed up the goal of the effort. Winuk's brother, Glenn J. Winuk, an attorney and volunteer firefighter and EMT, died in the line of duty as a rescuer on 9/11. Jay said, "As someone who lost a loved one on 9/11, I was truly inspired by the remarkable way our nation came together in the months following the attacks. We owe more than division and discord to those who perished from the attacks and those who served in its aftermath. The anniversary of 9/11 should be a reminder to us all about our common humanity and the opportunity we have to help people and communities in need."

What can afterschool programs do for 9/11 Day?

Plan your own service activity, or reach out to service organizations in your community. And stay tuned, the Afterschool Snack will share resources and activities as they are developed.

9/11 is an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance. More than 30 million Americans now observe September 11 each year through charitable service and good deeds, transforming 9/11 Day into the largest annual day of charitable engagement in America.  

APR
21
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Summertime means nutritious meals, learning and fun

By Erik Peterson

Once school is out this year, will you be working with a summer learning program to continue providing engaging learning to young people? Don’t forget to provide nutritious meals to children through your program! With the USDA Summer Meals Program you can help young people get free, healthy meals this summer.

How does the program work?

Purpose: To serve free, healthy meals to low-income children and teens during summer months when school is out. 

Where: Any safe place for kids (for example: school, park, rec center, library, faith organization, etc.) can be a summer meal site, but summer learning programs are an ideal location to offer learning and meals!

Who: Summer meal sites receive meals from local sponsoring organizations (for example: Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, local school district, etc.). Sponsors prepare the food (or order it), deliver it to the meal site, and are reimbursed by USDA for the costs.

Eligibility: Any meal site open to the public is eligible if it is in a school attendance area where 50 percent or more children qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. If it is not open to the public (for example: a summer camp), 50 percent of more of the enrolled students must qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals.

APR
20
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 20, 2016

By Luci Manning

Theater Program Boosting Confidence, Grades in Rock Falls (Sauk Valley Newspapers, Illinois)

Rock Falls Middle School students are coming out of their shells thanks to an afterschool theater program run by the school, Sterling-Rock Falls YMCA and the Woodlawn Arts Academy. The afterschool students recently put on a performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” which impressed the Illinois State Board of Education enough that they have been asked to perform it again at the 21st Century Community Learning Centers spring conference in May. The program includes an academic tutoring element, but focuses on the arts as a way to unlock kids’ potential. “Arts is fantastic, because you get to watch it change their lives and watch them get more confidence in themselves,” program head Faith Morrison told Sauk Valley Newspapers.

Learning While Having Fun (St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, Michigan)

Benton Harbor’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program is receiving high marks across the board from parents, teachers and students. The afterschool program uses creative activities—like sending Barbie dolls bungee-jumping using rubber bands—to teach science, arts, math and other academic skills. According to project director Julie Earle, the kids can’t get enough—93 percent of students in the program said they wanted to attend in a recent survey. “The students are choosing to learn,” she told the Herald-Palladium. “To me, that’s the biggest reason we’re successful.” Additionally, 100 percent of parents say the program has helped their kids academically and kept them out of trouble.

Lessons in Golf and Lessons in Life (Bourne Courier, Massachusetts)

A group of elementary school students gathered at the Hyannis Gold Course last week to learn basic putting and other important golf skills as part of the First Tee Massachusetts afterschool program. Through the nine-week program, kids will learn to drive, chip, select the appropriate clubs and how to play by the rules of the game. All the while, they’ll absorb life skills that fit into the program’s nine core values: respect, courtesy, honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, confidence, responsibility, perseverance and judgment. The kids will learn to push through their mistakes, respect their competition and honestly report their own scores. “It is really a life skills program,” Hyannis’ PGA teaching professional Dave Donnellan told the Bourne Courier. “Golf is the vehicle by which we teach those life skills.”

Vance Middle’s CHAMPS Racing Team Prepares Teens for Real World (WJHL, Tennessee)

Thirteen Vance Middle School students are learning how the scientific concepts of force, friction, acceleration, velocity and speed apply to drag racing through the CHAMPS Racing Program. The afterschool program teaches kids how to use their math and science knowledge to solve real-life problems by working on their teacher David Boggs’ racecar, which he drives on the weekend at Bristol Dragway. “We take the race program and help kids use what they learn in the classroom and use it at the track,” he told WJHL. 

APR
19
2016

CHALLENGE
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Take the Virtual Challenge, gain powerful allies for your program

By Robert Abare

Participants of 2014's Afterschool for All Challenge meet with Senator Dean Heller of Nevada

On Tuesday, May 24, more than 250 afterschool advocates will arrive in Washington, D.C. for the Afterschool for All Challenge, meeting with their representatives in Congress to show them why afterschool programs deserve their support. This year, you too can cultivate powerful afterschool allies closer to home by taking the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge.

The most powerful way to participate is to invite a local policy maker and their staff to visit your afterschool program. Site visits can reveal to policy makers the many benefits your program provides to the community—and can convince them to help protect and strengthen your program in the face of obstacles to funding and resources.

You can start planning your site visit today with these tips for a successful visit. Our Virtual Challenge hub offers all the resources you need to plan a successful visit, from do’s and don’ts to a sample invitation.

If you’re ready to attract valuable attention to your upcoming site visit, or if you simply want to build community support for your program, engaging the media is another great way to join the Virtual Challenge. Proven messages about the power of afterschool programs can raise awareness about your program’s impact and even attract funders or other community allies, and our resources make it easy to deploy them.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Events and Briefings
APR
18
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Webinar wrap-up: Creating year-round opportunities for literacy

By Erin Murphy

Reading, writing and critical thinking are important skills for success, yet less than 40 percent of students leave high school with proficiency in these skills. Two programs, Redhound Enrichment and Simpson Street Free Press, featured in a newly released issue brief joined us on a webinar last week to talk about their work keeping their students engaged in literacy during the school year and into the summer months.

Karen West, executive director of Redhound Enrichment, spoke on behalf of her program, which was also this year’s recipient of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award. Since 1991, Redhound Enrichment has served a rural community in Kentucky through the Corbin Independent School District. Throughout the school year and summer months, the program serves 1,000 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, across five sites. A typical day at Redhound Enrichment includes an “energy release” period and snack, homework help or tutoring and two enrichment activity periods, with literacy embedded throughout these activities. Karen attributed their program’s success to four best practices:

  • Individualized support: Redhound Enrichment is committed to providing students with individualized support, which includes keeping up-to-date on students’ homework and grades and working with students one-on-one and in small group sessions.
  • School day linkages: Building partnerships and supporting school time learning, while not replicating what happens in school, is an important part of the program. Redhound Enrichment staff meet regularly with teachers to identify students’ needs and build rapport with teachers.
  • Integrated instruction: Literacy is integrated into a variety of enrichment activities offered at Redhound Enrichment. Using a project-based learning approach, programming does not mimic the school day set-up and allows students to learn important skills in new and fun ways.
  • Community connections: Partnerships with the school district, public library, universities, and other stakeholders provide important resources for the program. Redhound Enrichment invests a lot of effort into developing strong relationships with these groups, who in turn can help with funding, curricula, volunteers and more.
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learn more about: Rural Literacy