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FEB
27
2017

POLICY
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Senators celebrate the value of apprenticeship programs

By Jillian Luchner

At left, Sen. Tim Scott speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photograph by Gage Skidmore. At right, Sen. Cory Booker speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Photograph courtesy Sen. Booker's office.

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the “Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act” to the 115th Congress on February 15. The act provides employers with tax credits of up to $1,500 for each eligible apprentice they hire under the program.

Both Scott and Booker have professed deep interests in engaging youth. At Restoring the American Dream, an event hosted by Opportunity Nation on the day of the bill’s release, Scott and Booker spoke to the need to connect youth with opportunities.

“Too often, especially with young people, we tend to look down to the lowest level of expectation,” Scott said.

“It’s not the wealth of our wealthiest that makes our nation great. It’s how we provide pathways for every single child," Booker said. "My father was born poor, segregated environment, single mom…(but the) people who came into his life gave him a little bit of love, a little bit of support, a little bit of a hand up.”

Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) also spoke at the event, saying she felt a responsibility for helping people to “realize where the opportunities are” and “plug in.”

These efforts show impressive results. The organization Year Up participated in a panel at the event to discuss its one-year post-high school program model that pairs six months of technical and professional skill building with a six-month internship. Research show 85 percent of Year Up participants find full-time employment, with an average starting wage of $18 an hour.

Connecting students to opportunities to practice professional skills and gain work experience is a practice familiar to afterschool programs across the country. Training and experience are valuable across age categories. The people, businesses, programs, governments, and systems that recognize the value of these youth and connect them to opportunities and skills continue to see great returns—economic, social, relational—over and over again.

FEB
23
2017

POLICY
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House committee holds hearing on juvenile justice reform

By Jillian Luchner

On February 15, the House of Representatives held a subcommittee hearing on “Providing Vulnerable Youth the Hope of a Brighter Future Through Juvenile Justice Reform.” Chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), the hearing included testimony from four witnesses, Meg Williams of the Colorado Department of Public Safety; Chief Patrick J. Flannelly of the Lafayette Police Department in Indiana; the Honorable Denise Navaree Cubbon, Administrative Judge in Lucas County, Ohio; and Matt Reed, executive director of the YMCA in Louisville, Ky.

Witnesses discussed ways to reform the country’s juvenile justice system to promote safe communities and set at-risk youth on the pathway to success. The press release for the event tells the story of a young person’s changed trajectory as a result of preventative intervention:

Mr. Reed’s testimony discussed his work with at-risk youth for more than 20 years. He said effective and evidence-based solutions play an important role in keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system. Reed shared the story of 12-year-old Cassidy, who grew up in a troubled home where drug dealing and usage often occurred. In the summer of 2012, as a freshman in high school, Cassidy was arrested after her home was raided by law enforcement. “[Cassidy’s] mom had refused to give up any of the dealers, choosing instead to pin it on Cassidy,” Reed said. “She watched her daughter taken off in handcuffs.”

As the charges were resolved, Cassidy went into the YMCA’s shelter program and soon moved in with her grandparents. She began working with a case manager at the YMCA’s Safe Place—spending several months in counseling and at family team meetings. Cassidy also participated in community service at the YMCA and committed herself to extra tutoring. As a result of these efforts, her life began to improve. “Cassidy received her high school diploma in August of 2014,” Reed said, explaining the value of community-based programs. “She indeed went to college and is enrolled today at the University of Louisville.”

The House hearing is seen as a step toward the 115th Congress passing reauthorized and updated Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) legislation, which saw a near miss in the 114th Congress when a JJDPA bill—which included updates supporting the preventative and restorative roles afterschool and community-based programming like YMCAs can play in youth development—passed the House, but did not pass the Senate.

The Senate will be holding its own committee hearing on the JJDPA legislation, “Improving Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,” on Tuesday, February 28.

FEB
17
2017

RESEARCH
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What is "The State of Girls" in 2017?

By Leah Silverberg

The Girl Scout Research Institute released "The State of Girls 2017" at a February briefing on Capitol Hill.

Since the Great Recession, the United States has experienced many demographic, social, economic, and technological changes. A new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, "The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends," tracks resulting trends in girls’ economic, physical, and emotional health, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and education compared to results from ten years ago.

To launch the report, Girl Scouts of the USA partnered with Honorary Congressional Host Committee members Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), to host a briefing on Capitol Hill with speakers including Alice Hockenbury, Girl Scouts Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy; Kamla Modi, Ph.D., Senior Researcher for the Girl Scout Research Institute; Makaa Ngwa-Suh, Program Services Manager for Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital; Rachel Tabakman, Girl Scouts Public Policy Manager; and Summer Berry, Girl Scout Ambassador from Martinsburg, West Virginia.

At the briefing, speakers discussed the results of the report, how the information provided can be used to influence policy, what Girl Scouts are doing with their STEM Education programming, and how their programming is helping girls. The "State of Girls" report series is the first of its kind to focus on the health and well-being of girls, and while some of the findings suggest positive trends for girls now, other results show that more needs to be done to help girls reach their full potential. 

Troubling trends

According to the report, more girls today are living in poverty and low-income households than in 2007, and more than half of black/African American (58 percent), Hispanic/Latina (61 percent), and American Indian (61 percent) girls are considered low-income. This is especially important considering that girls who live in poverty and low-income households face many challenges that affect their physical and emotional health, as well as their opportunities for academic achievement.

Furthermore, all girls are more at risk for obesity (17 percent) and suicidal ideation (23 percent of high school girls) than they were a decade ago (16 percent and 19 percent, respectively).

Positive shifts

Overall, girls are engaging in less risky behaviors than in 2007, with fewer girls having tried cigarettes and alcohol. Additionally, reading and math proficiency has improved. Finally, the high school dropout rate has decreased in recent years, with the largest decrease for Hispanic/Latina girls, for whom the dropout rate dropped from 18 percent to 9 percent.

Useful resources

"The State of Girls 2017" focuses on national data, but for a closer look at the state of girls in your community, the Girl Scouts Research Institute has also published The United States of Girls, an interactive map illustrating your state's performance on the Index of Girls’ Well-Being as well as what Girl Scouts are doing within your state to advocate for girls.  The results from this report are not prescriptive, and do not dictate what the future may hold for girls in the United States.  Programs that operate in out-of-school time, like Girl Scouts and afterschool programs, currently and will continue to play an important role in supporting girls nationally.

Interested in learning more about The State of Girls? Read the full report, and for more discussion, join the Afterschool Alliance, lead researchers from the Girl Scout Research Institute, and speakers from Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and Girls on the Run International for a webinar on February 23 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the results and talk about what is being done to help girls thrive. 

FEB
13
2017

STEM
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Apply for a two-day summit on engaging Latinos in STEM

By Melissa Ballard

GENIAL, Generating Engagement and New Initiatives for All Latinos, is a new National Science Foundation project focusing on increasing Latino participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) within informal or out-of-school time environments. The goal is to bring together practitioners, community leaders, diversity-focused organizations, researchers, and media/marketing specialists from across the country to identify field-wide best practices, opportunities, emerging research questions, and gaps.

If you're passionate about engaging Latinos in out-of-school STEM, apply by Tuesday, February 28 to attend a two-day summit on June 5 and 6, 2017 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Calif. Participants will hear from dynamic keynote speakers and engage in conversations, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking to contribute knowledge and experience that will inform future research and practice in and advancement of the field.

Goals of the summit

  • Assess the current state of the field in providing effective informal STEM experiences for Latinos
  • Identify needs and gaps in informal STEM environments
  • Identify emerging research questions with an outlook toward the future
  • Contribute to a more informed informal STEM field

Who should apply?

GENIAL is seeking professionals with diverse perspectives of and experiences with engaging Latino communities in STEM learning. Leaders of community-based organizations, including afterschool and summer learning programs; cultural organization practitioners; researchers; policy-makers; and media, marketing, and technology professionals who:

  • Have at least two years’ experience and are currently employed in the United States in informal learning, nonprofit media or community-based organizations that serve Latino and/or other diverse and underserved communities
  • Are involved in and/or interested in applying best practices to engaging Latino audiences in informal learning environments
  • Are committed to sharing and implementing ideas from the GENIAL summit with colleagues and providing feedback

Cost

The cost for the two-day summit is $250. Selected applicants will receive a stipend ranging from partial to full coverage of travel expenses and the registration fee.

To apply

Submit this quick application by midnight PST on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Questions?

Email GENIAL@exploratorium.edu.

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FEB
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Youth share how out-of-school programming prepares them for the workforce

By Guest Blogger

By Rachel Willis, Research Project Manager at the Kansas Enrichment Network.

Student Jessica Rodas speaks at the Kansas Workforce Summit. Photo via @KS_Enrichment.

We all know the statistics from the last decade. Employment growth in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sectors is occurring at a faster rate than the growth rate projected for all occupations over the decade—13 percent compared to 11 percent, respectively.

At the most recent Kansas Workforce Summit, the Kansas Enrichment Network and other participants heard this reiterated again. We also learned about the importance of educating and preparing young people for jobs that cannot be automated, as well as teaching 21st century skills like communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving and critical thinking. While these concepts came as no surprise to us, we were excited that our fellow attendees from outside the out-of-school time field were hearing this message. It set the stage perfectly for our Youth Speak panel facilitated by the Afterschool Alliance’s very own Jodi Grant.

Jodi introduced an audience of business leaders and other workforce development stakeholders to out-of-school programming and the substantial body of research on the effects of quality afterschool programs. This audience was especially interested in afterschool’s role in improving school day attendance—as Jodi pointed out at the Summit, “the number one indicator for whether or not kids will get in trouble with the law, whether or not they graduate tends to be truancy. We have a direct impact on that in afterschool.”

Following this introduction, Jodi turned it over to four youth—one middle school student, two high school students and one graduate student—who answered questions about how their afterschool programs are preparing them for bright futures. The youth spoke about the opportunity to explore various career paths, learning how to work on a team, and improving their leadership skills. “The adults that we have supervising us help teach us important standards such as punctuality and communication, taking on responsibilities, following directions, and developing leadership skills,” student Patience Wagner shared.

FEB
10
2017

RESEARCH
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Learn to engage your team with data with a new webinar series from Public Profit

By Leah Silverberg

Interested in making your team more comfortable with data analysis? Want to learn more about professional learning communities? Feel like you can expand your program model? You should tune in to Public Profit’s new webinar series!

Public Profit is a research organization with expertise in evaluation and data that specifically works with nonprofits serving children, youth, and families. In the next few months, they will be offering free 30-minute webinars looking at ways to improve your organization’s model, and how to better understand and utilize your nonprofit’s data. 

1. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in Out-of-School Time (OST), February 28, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Want to learn more about Professional Learning Community design, and how to make it work in your out-of-school time program? Register for PLCs in OST!

2. Quality in OST, March 14, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Explore new ways of looking at your organization’s data and using it to create better quality OST programs with this Public Profit webinar. Enroll today!

3. Dabbling in the Data, April 25, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Dabbling in the Data is the first step toward making your team more comfortable using your organization's data. Through field-tested team activities, Dabbling in the Data provides a back to the basics approach to delving into data analysis.  To learn new ways of refreshing your team’s statistics knowledge, sign up for the Dabbling in the Data webinar.

Can’t make the webinar? Check out Public Profit’s toolbox for Dabbling in the Data!

4. Training and Replication, May 24, 2017 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)

Interested in expanding your program model, but do not have the guidance or training developed to do so? Join Public Profit for their Training and Replication webinar to learn tips for starting this process!

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JAN
30
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Healthy eating and physical activity highlighted during MOST Conference

By Tiereny Lloyd

The Maryland Out of School Time Network held their seventh annual statewide conference on January 5 & 6 in Ellicott City, Md., celebrating the community of out-of-school time practitioners that MOST affectionately calls “OST Heroes.”

The two-day conference was jam-packed with informative workshops, resources from various exhibitors and the first annual MOST awards ceremony. I had the distinct pleasure of moderating a healthy behaviors panel, “Healthy Behaviors: Connecting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Partnerships for OST,” with experts from the Alliance for Healthier Generation, Giant Food, John Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Leveling the Playing Field, and Maryland Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Education.

The panel had three objectives:

  • Build awareness. The prevalence of childhood in Maryland reflects the national average, where approximately one in three children ages two to 19 is overweight or obese. Since the rate of childhood obesity has tripled over the past three decades and children are now more likely to acquire risk factors for cardiovascular disease, building awareness of the issue is imperative. The panel also highlighted the sometimes overlooked relationship between food insecurity and obesity.
  • Celebrate the network’s healthy eating and physical activity successes. In 2013, through a grant from the Maryland Food Bank provided by the Giant Food Foundation, MOST became the first statewide healthy out-of-school time intermediary to bring healthy eating and physical activity resources, training, and technical assistance to Maryland out-of-school time programs. As a result of the work of three Healthy Behaviors VISTAs and several partnerships that have developed over time, MOST was able to introduce the Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Framework, based on the National Afterschool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards, to 30 afterschool sites.
  • Take action. Since childhood obesity has become a national epidemic, we can no longer limit our prevention efforts to traditional school hours but must extend our efforts to before and after the school bell rings. To facilitate these efforts, MOST used this panel to inspire OST providers throughout Maryland to adopt the HOST Framework, become a healthy out-of-school time site and engage in the MOST Network’s Healthy Behaviors Learning Community.

The Maryland Out of School Time Network has done impactful work around Healthy Eating and Physical Activity and can be a valuable resource to other networks (and afterschool programs) looking to create and support heathier out-of-school time environments. Way to go, MOST!

JAN
26
2017

POLICY
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Panel: When rethinking school governance, afterschool is a piece of the local puzzle

By Jillian Luchner

On January 19th, the National School Boards Association and the National School Boards Action Center hosted the Public Education Agenda for America's Success forum. Representatives from both conservative and liberal policy and research institutes came together in Washington, DC to discuss what to expect under a new administration and Congress.

The 2016 presidential campaign did not focus much on education issues, aside from a few conversations around child care and school choice. However, Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) mentioned that while education has not been a direct focus of President Trump’s attention, many of his priority issues—including safety, the economy and the military—are, in truth, education issues.

Based on what we know so far about the Trump Administration's education agenda and how it relates to out-of-school time, a couple of key themes emerged.

Federal government expected to pass the baton to the states

Many on the panel assumed the Trump Administration will look to return as much decision-making on data, performance, and implementation as possible to states, which resonates with the theme of the Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2015.

All panelists expected a return to local control—but as AEI's Andy Smarick hypothesized, the very concept of local control may be changing. In the past, local control meant the ultimate decision makers on education issues should be local school boards and districts rather than the state or federal government, but Smarick now believes local control is reaching down to the level of the parent and family.

However, other panelists pointed out that with federal and state money flowing to districts and students, accountability in education will always have to be twofold: at the school and parent level with regard to student achievement, but also at the federal, state, and local level when considering how public tax dollars are being spent in the public interest.