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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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AUG
27

STEM
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After passing the House, STEM Education Act moves to Senate

By Sophie Papavizas

The bipartisan STEM Education Act, H.R. 5031 introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), passed the House last month and is now in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill has three goals:

  1. It expands the definition of STEM education as it pertains to federally funded programs to include disciplines such as computer science
  2. Grows programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal STEM education activities
  3. Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields

Of particular interest to the out-of-school field, the bill gives a directive to NSF to continue awarding grants and using funds to support informal and out-of-school STEM learning with the goal of increasing engagement in STEM and improving learning outcomes.  Grants and funding would support existing and new programs in places such as museums and science centers.

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learn more about: Congress Education Reform Federal Policy Legislation School Improvement Science Academic Enrichment
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AUG
27

POLICY
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Jim Jeffords: A founder of the movement to expand afterschool programs, a hero to children and families

By Jodi Grant

This post was originally published on Huffington Post's Education Blog. Read the original post and share your thoughts with the HuffPost community.

 

Before former Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont introduced the first legislation to provide federal funding for afterschool in 1994, the federal government played essentially no role in providing meaningful support and programming for young people in the hours after the school day ended and before parents arrived home from work. Sen. Jeffords, who passed away on Aug. 18 at the age of 80, was a pioneer in the national afterschool movement. He worked tirelessly to build congressional and presidential support for a national afterschool and summer learning program infrastructure that lives on today as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC).

Sen. Jeffords had many proud accomplishments, including chairing the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and helping to shape the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act. But advocates for afterschool remember him best as one of the original authors of the legislation that created the 21st CCLC.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Afterschool Voices Congress Equity ESEA Federal Policy Media Outreach Sustainability Working Families Academic Enrichment
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AUG
22

POLICY
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Child Protection Improvement Act gaining momentum in Congress

By Erik Peterson

Congress is out on August recess until early September, however discussions on a variety of topics continue to take place. In particular, momentum appears to be growing in support of the Child Protection Improvement Act (S. 1362). The bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) about one year ago seeks to establish affordable access to an all-encompassing criminal background check database system accessible by afterschool and other youth-serving organizations. While all youth-serving organizations can check the in-state criminal records of job applicants and volunteers, only one-third of states provide these organizations with access to the FBI database to conduct nationwide criminal background checks.

Earlier this summer, Sen. Schumer joined afterschool and youth organizations in New York for a press event highlighting the need and potential impact of the legislation. The bill builds off of the now expired pilot program created by the PROTECT Act of 2004 that gave selected youth-serving organizations access to nationwide criminal records.  Statistics from that program show the importance of having comprehensive background checks.   In that program, 6 percent of applicants had a criminal record that should have prevented them from working with children.  Additionally, 40 percent of those crimes were not committed in the same state in which the person applied for the job or volunteer opportunity, meaning that the record would be undetected without a nationwide criminal record search.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation
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JUL
2

POLICY
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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passes Senate, strengthens supports for youth

By Erik Peterson

Last week the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The bipartisan, bicameral bill seeks to improve the nation’s workforce development system. As discussed in a previous blog, the legislation focuses in part on providing comprehensive supports and programming for out-of-school young people. Those provisions from Title I of WIOA include:

  • Expanding the definition of out-of-school youth to encompass young people ages 16 to 24 who are not attending school, have dropped out of school, and face extensive barriers to work and to completing their education. Title I targets 75 percent of youth funds to provide services for out-of-school youth.
  • Addresses eligibility issues that can make it difficult for local areas to develop comprehensive, cross-system approaches to serve youth who are most in need. Title I does so by expanding the definition of low-income individuals to include those who receive or are eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunches and adding an expansive definition for individuals with a barrier to employment. Title I also incorporates a special rule that allows young people living in high-poverty areas to be deemed eligible for services.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of youth funds (20 percent) to support work experiences for low-income and vulnerable young people.
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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Youth Development
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JUN
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate

By Erik Peterson

This week Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals ActS. 2527, which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs, making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program, addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities and by providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.

Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning Sustainability
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JUN
29

IN THE FIELD
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2 events, 2 days, 2 great opportunities for afterschool

By Jodi Grant

What an incredible way to start the summer!  Two events, two days and two great shout-outs for our afterschool and summer learning programs.

White House Summit on Working Families

On Mon., June 23, the White House hosted its first ever White House Summit on Working Families.  The event featured celebrities, journalists and Members of Congress, as well as Dr. Jill Biden, Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Pres. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and pulled out every stop to showcase and highlight the challenges facing our working families.

While every speaker mentioned the need for high-quality childcare, I cheered loudest for Vice Pres. Biden, whose impassioned speech kicked off with a tribute to the power and impact of afterschool programs.  Defining families as more than just parents, the vice president spoke about how afterschool programs make a tremendous difference not only for working families, but also for the students who are at the gravest risk during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m.  The vice president even gave a shout-out to many of the community-based organizations that help to provide care during the afterschool hours. 

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Department of Education Equity Events and Briefings Federal Policy Obama Summer Learning Working Families
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JUN
18

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup - June 18, 2014

By Luci Manning

Grant’s Loss Cuts Irving After-School Program Used by Thousands (Dallas Morning News, Texas)

“An after-school program that served thousands of students in one of the region’s poorest districts has shut down after losing a federal grant,” the Dallas Morning News reports.  Parents and educators praised the Quest afterschool program as a successful model for keeping students on track to graduate, and an independent auditor warned that students’ test scores might dip without the program. Officials are brainstorming and fundraising ways to try and continue the program next year but caution that they won’t be able to provide the same level of programming.

Liberty Students Learn Fun Skills at Afterschool Craft Club (Murray Journal, Utah)

A popular afterschool craft program at Liberty Elementary has tripled in size since the beginning of the school year as more students see the creative projects their peers are completing after school.  On any given day, afterschool students can be seen painting with water colors, stringing together beaded necklaces, and sculpting with clay.  One sixth grader, Allie Krebs, who learned how to crochet blankets, spoke fondly about her new hobby to the Murray Journal, saying that “crocheting relaxed me if I’m stressed out or nervous and it makes me happy.”

College Town (Telegram & Gazette, Massachusetts)

“A Place We Can Call Home,” a powerful documentary produced by the Storytelling Project Incorporating Technology for Ideological Transformation (SPIT-IT) afterschool program, tells the stories of three of the club’s immigrant youths. According to the Telegram & Gazette, SPIT-IT empowers students to voice their experiences and perspectives on the various social realities and public policy issues that affect them through the creation of documentaries.  The students in SPIT-IT conceived, wrote and produced their latest film to show how immigration has impacted Worcester’s young people, many of whom are first or second generation immigrants. 

Stamford’s Young Mariners Graduate on the Sound (Stamford Advocate, Connecticut)

Twenty students from the Stamford area stood proudly on the deck of the Ticonderoga for a special graduation ceremony last Tuesday.  As part of the Young Mariners afterschool enrichment program, the students learned the basics of sailing as well as swimming, CPR, navigation, boating safety and off the water engineering and math principles.  Some of the Young Mariners told the Stamford Advocate that their favorite experiences include taking water samples and learning about how to keep the oceans clean.      

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learn more about: Federal Funding Federal Policy Arts
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JUN
9

POLICY
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My Brother's Keeper Task Force reports back to the president

By Erik Peterson

In late February, Pres. Obama appointed a high-level task force to oversee his new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative “to develop a coordinated federal effort to improve significantly the expected life outcomes for boys and young men of color.” Recently the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force released a report on their first 90 days of actions, including key recommendations for the initiative moving forward.

Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the president’s task force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans through online and in-person listening sessions, including a number of afterschool and summer learning providers.  Cities and towns, businesses, foundations, faith leaders and individuals have made commitments to helping youth get a strong start in school and life and later connect them to mentoring, support networks and specialized skills they need to find a good job or go to college.

The 90-day report laid out cross-cutting recommendations, seven broad themes and specific recommendations.  The importance of afterschool is highlighted in the specific recommendations, which call for expansion of effective afterschool and summer programs to accelerate socio-emotional and academic learning and health.  The recommendations also call for a public-private campaign to recruit high-quality, sustained mentors—an important component of many afterschool programs.  Details on the recommendations are below. 

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Equity Federal Policy Media Outreach Obama Youth Development
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