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JUN
22
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: June 22, 2016

By Luci Manning

Mobile Tech Lab Offers Children Alternatives to Crime and Violence (Rockford Register Star, Illinois)

Rockford students are spending their afterschool hours learning computer programming, graphic design and video production out of a 30-foot-long RV. The Rockford Police Department donated the vehicle to Rev. Samuel Sarpiya’s Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation so he could transform it into a mobile tech lab that would give youth positive role models and valuable skills and steer them away from a life of crime. “As we teach nonviolence, we teach skills and leadership development with a goal of transforming conflict… and we hope that this will become a prototype that can be used as a model across the country,” Rev. Sarpiya told the Rockford Register Star.

Weed and Seed Is Safe Harbor for At-Risk Youths (Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico)

The Arthur C. Fielder Safe Haven Weed and Seed Program has played a pivotal role in cultivating valuable skills in Las Cruces students for the past 17 years. Las Cruces Police Department youth program coordinator Felipe Briseño said the program’s goal is to weed out bad elements of impoverished neighborhoods—drugs and crime—and seed them with good. “A lot of (the kids) are searching for a role model or they’re searching for a place to hang out and be comfortable, and we provide that for them here,” he told the Las Cruces Sun-News. Weed and Seed runs afterschool and summer programs for children enrolled in a free lunch program, or living in a single parent home or a home in which the parents attend school.

Foundation Give Lewiston Students Thousands of Books (Lewiston Sun-Journal, Maine)

More than a thousand Lewiston elementary school students took home eight free books to read over the summer, thanks to a massive donation from Reading Is Fundamental, a national children’s literacy organization. The influx of books is meant to help stem summer learning loss for Lewiston’s more disadvantaged students. The group also donated 40 books to each Lewiston K-2 classroom, bringing the total count of donated books to more than 13,000. “A lot of students don’t have their own books at home, so this is a real gift,” Montello Elementary School literacy coach Kelly Johnson told the Lewiston Sun-Journal. “It keeps them reading and helps prevent that summer slide.”

Local “Doctor Who” Fans Go International (Park Cities People, Texas)

When a group of students at The Lamplighter School decided to start an afterschool fan club dedicated to the British sci-fi show “Doctor Who” more than two years ago, they planned to just spend their afternoons discussing the plot and character developments on their favorite TV show. Instead, with the encouragement of drama teacher Jeff Peck, the students have put together a 217-page episode guide that is now gaining international attention. The club was recently featured on the cover of Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s magazine, and students even had the chance to meet several stars of the show at a convention in April. “Fans all around the world are reading what our Lamplighter students have written about the show,” Peck told Park Cities People. “I don’t think even the kids realize how big they have become.”

JUN
21
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Engaging teens as learners, leaders and team members

By Robert Abare

By the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health

A key way to promote adolescent health and development and to prepare young people for adulthood is to actively engage them at school, at home, and in the community. School clubs, sports, music, the arts, out-of-school time programs, jobs, and places of worship all offer opportunities to involve teens in meaningful ways. Adolescents benefit when they provide input into the design of programs and activities, which not only improves the programs but also provides valuable leadership experiences. Engaging teens in learning, leading, and as team members is one of the Five Essentials for Healthy Adolescents identified in the HHS Office of Adolescent Health’s national call to action, called Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow or TAG.

TAG's game plan for engaging youth

The Game Plan for Engaging Youth summarizes ideas for engaging adolescents in promoting their health and development. These ideas were generated by youth and adults at a meeting on authentic youth engagement convened by the Jim Casey Youth Initiative and the Forum for Youth Investment in March 2015.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative has led many successful efforts to engage young people throughout the nation. They distilled this wealth of knowledge into three guiding principles: 

  1. Preparation. Young people need to be effectively prepared and empowered to make informed decisions about matters that affect their lives.
  2. Support. Young people should be provided with customized services and a network of supportive relationships that meet their needs, promote a healthy transition to adulthood, and provide tools that empower them to make decisions.
  3. Opportunity. Young people should be provided with an array of life opportunities that promote optimal growth and development; experiential learning; healthy risk-taking; and participation in normal everyday activities that contribute to social confidence and positive identity formation.

Visit the TAG Game Plan for Engaging Youth on the TAG website to learn about eight successful youth engagement approaches and find examples of how professionals from different sectors can put youth engagement into action.

TAG in action: Engaging Wisconsin youth in teaching medical professionals

The HHS Office of Adolescent Health has identified a number of successful strategies for improving and promoting adolescent health. The Wisconsin-based Providers and Teens Communicating for Health Program (PATCH) is an innovative, teen-delivered educational program that trains healthcare providers and teens to communicate effectively about sensitive health topics such as sexual health, mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, and safety. Teen Educators equip their peers with skills to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for health care visits that prioritize judgment-free care. They also teach teens skills to help them engage in meaningful and effective communication with healthcare providers.

The Wisconsin Medical Journal recently published research demonstrating that providers and teens in the PATCH program experienced significant improvements in knowledge, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions to seek and provide quality sexual health care. The PATCH program is planning to expand throughout Wisconsin and is working toward replication nationwide.

JUN
21
2016

POLICY
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Add your comments to new draft regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act

By Jillian Luchner

In late May 2016, the Department of Education issued draft regulations on elements in Title I of our nation's new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The 60 day comment period for the regulations will be open until August 1st, and your feedback is welcomed! The new law provides much more flexibility on school accountability and includes new indicators of student success and growth. Yet the overall goals of Title I of ESSA—academic achievement, graduation, school quality and student success—remain goals that are dramatically supported by afterschool programs.

Before adding your comments, it may be helpful for you to explore this comprehensive overview of the ESSA draft regulations.

See how afterschool factors in to various aspects of the draft regulations

Needs assessments: The Title I regulations, as proposed, provide many opportunities for collaboration between out-of-school time and the school day. Under the regulations, states, districts and schools must design and apply needs assessments for low-performing schools and, as a new addition, must look at how resources are allocated among schools. Parents, afterschool providers, and advocates can remind states and districts that identifying which schools provide enrichment and engagement activities for students (and which do not) is an essential part in this process and in understanding equity generally. Some afterschool state networks and some state child care offices are already working on mapping access to afterschool programs across their states. Additionally, while the law has changes, the previous national education law, No Child Left Behind, also included needs assessments, and some older resources on needs assessments may continue to be helpful.

Research based interventions: States and school districts will have the ability to create lists of evidence and research based interventions that support Title I goals and indicators. Because afterschool programs increase student success in attendance, homework completion, and discipline reductions, each state should thoughtfully consider adding these programs to their approved list of interventions. The Afterschool Alliance Evaluations Backgrounder is a good place to find research that provides the evidence base necessary to support afterschool and summer learning programs as key contributors to a variety of success indicators.

Consolidated state plans: States can combine plans for Title I with plans for other Titles (including Title IV part B for 21st Century Community Learning Centers) within the ESSA legislation as part of one overall or "consolidated" state plan. The proposed rule emphasizes that all plans must include “timely and meaningful consultation” with stakeholders. The proposed rule lists 13 specific groups that must be consulted, including community based organizations. As part of this process, state agencies must solicit input from the community, plans must be subject to a 30 day public comment period and plans must include reference to how the SEA (State Educational Agency) addressed the issues and concerns raised in public comment. All plans will be published on SEA websites and reviewed/revised, again with full stakeholder engagement, at least once every four years. All consolidated plans must coordinate with other federal funding streams such as Child Care and Development Block Grants, and Career and Technical Education, and must include a mechanism for performance management and technical assistance.

Now is a good time to ensure afterschool is at the table for these decisions and in these state plans.

JUN
20
2016

STEM
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Making and equity: how a successful program integrated the two

By Erin Murphy

As part of our ongoing celebration of the National Week of Making, we are excited to announce the release of a new STEM program profile highlighting the wonderful work of the California Tinkering Afterschool Network (CTAN). The goal of our STEM program profiles is to share models of successful STEM programs and provide information about high-quality STEM learning experiences, professional development, funding, building partnerships and impressive outcomes for youth success.

CTAN is unique among our program profiles in that it is not an individual afterschool program, but was a partnership that brought together the expertise of afterschool directors, facilitators, and researchers. The network included two out-of-school time organizations—the Community Science Workshop Network (Fresno and Watsonville, CA) and Techbridge (Oakland, CA)—along with two science museums: Discovery Cube (Santa Ana, CA) and the Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA). Together, this group designed and implemented STEM-rich afterschool tinkering/making programs to serve youth from low-income, historically marginalized communities. These making and tinkering programs focus on learning STEM skills through the process of creating, building, or re-designing.

Check out the CTAN profile to learn more about:

  • Key characteristics of high-quality making/tinkering programs.
  • Youth outcomes related to high-quality, STEM-rich making/tinkering programs.
  • Building effective, and equitable partnerships with STEM-rich institutes and researchers.
  • Creating equitable programs that have positive outcomes for youth regardless of gender, ability, socioeconomic status, or community of origin.
  • Professional development strategies to support high-quality making/tinkering.

For more information on a variety of ways to approach STEM learning, check out our STEM Program Profiles!

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learn more about: Robotics Science Community Partners
JUN
17
2016

STEM
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Turn concepts into creations for the National Week of Making!

By Erin Murphy

The act of "making" is to use the process of creating, building or re-designing to learn new things about our world.

Join us in celebrating making this week by participating in the White House’s 2016 National Week of Making, June 17-23. The focus of this year’s event is to highlight the diversity of makers: young and old, experienced and novice, rural and urban. Afterschool programs have long focused on providing hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that allow kids to explore and discover creatively. This week, we will showcase how afterschool is helping kids from various communities and backgrounds become makers!

As part of this campaign, we will be releasing a new program profile for the California Tinkering Afterschool Network (CTAN), a partnership of two museums and three afterschool programs focused on studying and implementing STEM-rich making in the afterschool space. Additionally, we will be participating in the Growing a Nation of Makers tweetchat, hosted by Design Squad. During the tweetchat on June 21 at 12 p.m. ET, we'll join a discussion on how we can help #GrowMakers. Finally, we will be sharing a guest blog from Techbridge, an afterschool program focused on introducing girls to science and engineering, in which the program's leaders will share their best-practices and teaching strategies for making in afterschool.

Get involved with the National Week of Making:

  • Tweet your Making experiences @afterschool4all with the hashtag #NationOfMakers or #WeekofMaking
  • Stay tuned for more blogs, tweets and Facebook posts from us to learn more about making in afterschool
  • Participate in the Growing a Nation of Makers #GrowMakers tweetchat where participants will share their knowledge and expertise around making. Tune in on June 21 at 12 p.m. ET with @Designsquad, @SWEtalk, @TheConnectory and @ngcproject.
  • Attend an event in your community

Respond to the White House’s call to action and make a commitment to helping spread the maker movement

JUN
16
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Simpson Street Free Press

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. Also check out the firstsecond, and third installments of the series. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

Kadjata Bah holds up a copy of the Simpson Street Free Press.

Eleven-year-old Kadjata Bah is a 5th grader with a dream of one day becoming a pediatrician. Though ambitious, her career goal seems more attainable thanks to the Simpson Street Free Press afterschool program, which has already allowed her to become a paid, published journalist.

“I just wrote an article about a new species of bee that was discovered in Kenya,” Kadjata enthusiastically explains. “They are very different from how we typically think of bees, like honeybees, which live in hives. These bees are solitary, and they don’t have stingers.”

“It was fun to write this article, and I learned a lot,” she adds.

Jim Kramer founded the Simpson Street Free Press 24 years ago in southeast Madison, WI, after seeking a creative way to get kids in this challenged part of town more excited about their school work while gaining valuable, real-world skills.

“Our concept was to start a newspaper where kids take on the role of reporters,” Jim explains. The program currently reaches approximately 270 students, with two newsrooms located at local schools, a central newsroom in southeast Madison, and a newsroom located at the offices of Capital Newspapers, the publisher of local daily newspapers.

Middle and high school students interested in participating in the Simpson Street Free Press are required to apply as they would to any other job—with writing samples and recommendations from their teachers. If accepted, they are paid once their work makes it through multiple rounds of outlining and editing and is finally published.

“We have kids applying to our program as young as 3rd grade," says Jim. "For most, this is the first job they have ever applied to."

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learn more about: Youth Development Literacy
JUN
16
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool programs: an overlooked solution to America's problems

By Jodi Grant

The past few days have been busy ones here in Washington, D.C. Last week, we learned of new information and strategies regarding our nation’s ongoing struggle with inequality—and of a damaging proposal by Congress that would make it more difficult for afterschool programs to rise to the challenge.

On Tuesday, June 6, the Department of Education released new civil rights data that reveal that more than 6.5 million U.S. students are chronically absent—a trend that disproportionally affects students of color.

To help tackle this problem and others linked to poverty, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan last week released a new policy paperA Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America. The plan calls for streamlining federal programs that help the disadvantaged, while focusing on empowering individuals to escape poverty through avenues like juvenile justice reform and career and technical training.

While the debate ensues over the best ways to tackle these national problems, I invite you to join me in ensuring that afterschool and summer learning programs are not left out of the conversation. We know that these programs strengthen communities by improving student outcomes, keeping kids in school and out of trouble, and by helping working families. According to America After 3PM, 82 percent of U.S. parents say that afterschool programs excite students about learning, and 83 percent say that afterschool programs reduce the likelihood that youth experiment with drugs, crimes and sex.

And as summer heats up, our Vice President of Policy Erik Peterson was recently quoted in The New York Times to highlight the growing demand for summer learning programs, which keep students safe, engaged and growing academically while school is out, but cannot accommodate all the children who wish to participate.

JUN
15
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: June 15, 2016

By Luci Manning

Nutritional Project Sows Seeds of Learning (Times Record News, Texas)

More than 50 members of the Boys & Girls Club explored Morath Orchard and learned about healthy food as part of the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank’s “Grow Health, Grow Strong” program last week. The students participated in a number of activities focused on vegetables and healthy eating, including relay races and arts and crafts. They also got to harvest, clean and snack on carrots from the orchard. “It’s a great way to introduce kids to where healthy food comes from,” Wichita Falls Area Food Bank nutrition services director Jessica Bachman told the Times Record News.

Lessons for Beating the Learning Gap (Daily Astorian, Oregon)

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden advocates for summer learning programs to help low-income students overcome the achievement gap in the Daily Astorian: “The sad truth is that the lack of access to learning programs for underprivileged kids in the summer widens the achievement gap between those students and their higher-income classmates…. As parents, community leaders, educators and policymakers, we must provide every resource possible to bridge that gap for disadvantaged and low-income students…. This year I hope to see even more communities come out and support our students by hosting summer learning activities.”

Everest Young Entrepreneurs Leave the Nest (Wausau Daily Herald, Wisconsin)

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy at the D.C. Everest Area School District gave 13 students the entrepreneurial skills to create their own business ventures this year. Through the afterschool program, students learned to develop a business, keep a budget and market their product to customers. The young entrepreneurs toured local companies and were mentored by local experts as they developed products as diverse as portable ski-waxing tables, self-tied neckties and embroidered clothing. “Because of this program, I have become comfortable with myself and everything I can do,” recent graduate Lukas Lindner told the Wausau Daily Herald.

North Philly Student Artwork on Display at Philadelphia Intl. Airport (Philadelphia Tribune, Pennsylvania)

Middle school students at General Philip Kearny School have been exploring the creative side of science through Wagner Science’s Science, Nature and Art in Philadelphia (SNAP) afterschool program. “The opportunity to give each student in grades six to eight the chance to think artistically about science, make connections between what they are being taught and what they see in the world around, and then to engage in it with critical thought and creative expression is uniquely powerful,” Kearny principal Daniel Kurtz told the Philadelphia Tribune. SNAP directly supports the school’s science curriculum, teaching students to translate scientific principles into works of art, many of which will be on display through October at the Philadelphia Airport as part of the airport’s Exhibitions program.