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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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FEB
24

FUNDING
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Updated: Need ideas to advocate for afterschool? Check out these webinars

By Alexis Steines

As afterschool professionals, we understand the importance of raising awareness of our programs and afterschool in general. With local and state budgets including sharp cuts to education and youth development programs and major federal policy challenges threatening the integrity of afterschool programs, advocacy is more important than ever. While we can speak about the work afterschool programs do to provide children with opportunities to participate in hands-on, interactive learning, it’s important to include other voices in our advocacy efforts.

This year, through the generous support of the Robert Bowne Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance is hosting a series of webinars on how we can engage parents, students and communities in advocacy. Last Tuesday, we held our first webinar in this occasional series. The first installment focused on engaging parents in afterschool advocacy. Esther Grant-Walker, director of School Age and Family Engagement Services at the Isaacs Center Afterschool Program in New York City, shared how she engages parents and prepares them to be effective afterschool advocates through hands-on training and other initiatives. Student engagement was the focus of our second webinar on Feb. 18.  Alberto Cruz, Senior Director of Youth and Family at the YMCA of Greater New York, along with Patrick Pinchinat and Marlena Starace of the Queens Community House discussed how they involve students in advocating for afterschool.

Using social media to advocate will be the subject of the final webinar of this series on March 27. Deepmalya Ghosh, Director of Youth Development at the Child Center of New York, Inc. will share how he engages the public in afterschool advocacy through social media. Visit our webinars page to register

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Events and Briefings Media Outreach
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FEB
21

IN THE FIELD
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Strong partnerships for strong afterschool programs

By Alexis Steines

Strong community partnerships are vital to the long-term sustainability of all afterschool programs. With local and state budgets including sharp cuts to education and youth development programs and federal policy challenges threatening the integrity of afterschool programs, community support is more important than ever. Partnerships between schools and afterschool programs also play an important role in Common Core implementation and other activities to help students improve academically.

Last week, I addressed this topic in breakout sessions at the Beyond School Hours Conference, hosted by Foundations, Inc. The sessions focused on the key ingredients in forming successful community partnerships. These components include:

  • Establishing consistent and honest communication from the start of the partnership;
  • Allowing ownership of issues for all partners;
  • Matching the strengths of each partner with an identified need;
  • Valuing and respecting all partners, no matter the size of their contribution to the partnership;
  • Ensuring coordination and communication with teachers and school administrators.
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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Sustainability Community Partners
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FEB
18

POLICY
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Moving toward a more family friendly nation with afterschool for all

By Erik Peterson

This month marks the 21st anniversary of the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the historic legislation signed into law by Pres. Clinton in 1993 that has done so much to support working families. Given the new focus in Washington on supporting working families, it is worthwhile to revisit another legacy of the Clinton administration that has also been tremendously helpful for millions of working mothers and fathers during the past decade: the 21stCentury Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.

Quality afterschool and summer learning programs funded through the 21st CCLC initiative provide a safe and engaging place for more than 1.6 million children and youth while their parents are at work.  We know that parents with children in afterschool programs are less stressed, have fewer unscheduled absences and are more productive at work.  However, with 15 million school-age children unsupervised between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. on weekdays, the need for afterschool programs far outstrips the availability.  As detailed in our 2011 issue brief, “Afterschool and Working Families in Wake of the Great Recession,” the gap between work and school schedules amounts to as much as 25 hours per week, which presents working parents whose children are not served by 21st CCLC or another afterschool program with the expensive challenge of finding someone to care for their children while they are at work.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Federal Policy Issue Briefs Obama Working Families
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JAN
30

POLICY
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'Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it' - Pres. Obama

By Erik Peterson

On Tuesday, Pres. Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union (SOTU) address.  As anticipated, the speech focused largely on policies to address income disparity in the United States, with special attention to education, workforce development and opportunities to learn.  Featured prominently were a number of the White House’s existing education policy issues including the early childhood education initiative, the need to make college more accessible and affordable and support for more and better workforce and job training programs to put more Americans to work in better jobs. 

Education was at the forefront in the president’s speech: he led with, “Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.” Among his examples of work done to increase learning opportunities for young people was the recent College Opportunity Summit, where 150 universities, businesses and nonprofits made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education. 

In his speech, the president laid out multiple education priorities saying, “Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education.”  He hailed the success of the Race to the Top initiative, saying the program “has helped states raise expectations and performance...Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy—problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering and math.”

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learn more about: Budget Congress Economy Education Reform Equity Events and Briefings Federal Policy Legislation Obama Youth Development
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JAN
28

POLICY
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Afterschool leader praises 2014 budget, lauds Congress for 'prioritizing children and working families'

By Jodi Grant

Statement of Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance

“The omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed this week is a welcome step in the right direction toward prioritizing children and working families, as the country makes hard spending choices. 

In restoring nearly $60 million in sequester cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, Congress signaled that keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families are priorities. That is very good news, as is the funding level of $1.149 billion, now in place for the remainder of FY2014. The 21st CCLC is the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs, providing badly needed programs to 1.1 million students, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised and at-risk when schools are closed. 

This appropriations bill is also a step forward in terms what it does not contain—language that would allow 21st CCLC funds to be diverted for purposes other than providing the afterschool, before-school and summer programs children so urgently need. 

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Afterschool Champions Budget Congress Federal Policy Media Outreach
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JAN
14

POLICY
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Omnibus spending bill ensures renewed federal support for afterschool, summer learning

By Erik Peterson

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.

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learn more about: Budget Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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NOV
18

IN THE FIELD
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Speak Up 2013: Make your voice heard

By Kamila Thigpen

Are you “Speaking Up” about digital learning this year? If not, you're missing a unique opportunity to have your views—as well as the views of your colleagues, students, their parents and the local community—included in the increasingly important U.S. national and state discussions on digital learning policies, programs and funding.

The Afterschool Alliance is proud to announce a special partnership with Project Tomorrow this year to encourage participation of afterschool organizations in their online research project Speak Up. The Speak Up National Research Project annually collects and reports on the authentic, unfiltered views of K–12 students, parents and educators about critical digital age education and technology issues. Since 2003, more than 3 million K–12 education stakeholders have shared their ideas about ed tech through the Speak Up online surveys. And we need your ideas too!

This year, for the first time, Project Tomorrow will be providing an additional online survey for community members. Local employers, after school providers, school board members and homeowners without children in the local schools can now provide their views on the role of technology in preparing students for the jobs and careers of the 21st century. This new set of data will provide valuable insights for the participating organizations as well as state and federal policymakers on the importance of digital tools and resources for college and career readiness.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Evaluations
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NOV
15

FUNDING
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Looking for afterschool meal champions

By Erik Peterson

This month we re-launched our effort to promote the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program offered through the Department of Agriculture. Millions of young people that participate in afterschool programs every afternoon go home to food insecure households. The Afterschool Meals Program provides an opportunity to offer a nutritious, balanced meal to children to help them focus during the afterschool hours. Afterschool meals often sustain children until breakfast at school the next morning.

Since 2011, the Afterschool Meals Program has proven to be an effective way to reduce childhood hunger and promote a healthy childhood weight.  In 2012, 16 million children (22 percent) under the age of 18 lived in poverty and were exposed to hunger.

If your afterschool program currently doesn't offer afterschool meals and you would like to learn more, click here to become an Afterschool Meals Champion. We look forward to connecting you with resources and tools to help you become an afterschool meals site or sponsor!

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learn more about: Federal Policy Nutrition Sustainability
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