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DEC
8
2017

STEM
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Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to become creators of technology, not just consumers, is a growing priority for afterschool programs across the country. Many are building from the ground up and running into issues like identifying technology, tools, and curricula to meet their goals. Additionally, it can be challenging to train and support facilitators—either afterschool educators or other community volunteers.

In our webinar on Wednesday, December 6, two inspiring speakers working on these issues presented insights and resources: Sarah Carter, from SciGirls, shared tips on choosing tools and developing curricula, and Ricarose Roque, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, shared her model for family engagement called Family Creative Learning. To get the full experience, watch the recording and view the presentation slides. Be sure to check out the hashtag #CSEdweek to see all the conversations happening on social media!

Getting clear on definitions and goals

There are a litany of terms used when talking about creating technology—"computer science," "coding" or "programming," "computing," "tech skills," "media literacy," and more! Our speakers told us that being specific and intentional about using these terms, particularly when defining your program’s focus and goals, is incredibly important. It is key to think about what’s most appropriate for the out-of-school time environment and ensure that we meet youth development or other philosophical goals.

For example, Sarah explained that the approach to her current project, SciGirls Code, is shaped by a blend of computational thinking and connected learning principles, and is founded on the SciGirls Seven, a set of research-based gender equity strategies. Ricarose has developed the concept of “Computational Creators”, which means the goal is for students is to be able to use computing to create things they care about, develop identities as creators, and see the ways they can shape the world. All educators should spend some time considering the vary approaches and frameworks out there to determine the best approach for their students and community needs.

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science Girls Webinars
DEC
7
2017

STEM
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Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

By Charlotte Steinecke

Keshia Ashe and a student at Tubman Elementary

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented communities in the STEM field.

In 2011, Keshia Ashe didn’t know she was starting a business. She just knew she saw a problem.

A graduate student at the time, Ashe was mentoring a group of tenth graders, many of whom were interested in pursuing medical school once they graduated. She reached out to friends in the field but kept hearing a familiar story.

“A lot of my friends said, ‘I can’t come, I’m busy, I don’t have the time to drive an hour to interface with the students,’” Ashe recalls. “At the time, Skype was really starting to gain some traction and not have so many technical difficulties, so my friends would Skype into the classroom to talk to the students. That’s really the nucleation site of ManyMentors. It was me trying to solve a problem with the students I was working directly with.”

ManyMentors is an organization that connects younger people to older people in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, using a hybrid strategy that combines face-to-face monthly mentoring meetings coordinated by onsite chapters with a mobile app that promotes sustained communication between mentors and mentees. In addition to more than 400 onsite mentors at six universities in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York, ManyMentors is opening a cohort of chapters in the D.C. region, with students from University of Maryland, Howard University, George Washington, George Mason University, and more.

NOV
15
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 15, 2017

By Luci Manning

These Girls Now Have Big Dreams — Thanks to these Mentoring Programs (The Miami Herald, Florida)

Three unique afterschool programs in South Florida are inspiring girls to build their confidence and professional ambition. Honey Shine motivates girls to pursue higher education while improving self-esteem by pairing professional women with young girls. Women of Tomorrow offers a mentoring program between professional women and girls along with college and career trips. PACE Center for Girls offers an alternative to public school with academics, counseling, health and wellness and more. “Insecurity and self-doubt are rampant among the girls when they begin the program, PACE Miami Executive Director Sherry Thompson Giordano told the Miami Herald. “But as they discover their talents and begin to think it will be possible to launch careers, they find a strength that will help guide them through the rest of their lives.”

Students Helping Students Read at Maclary Elementary (The News Journal, Delaware)

A group of Maclary Elementary School fifth graders are volunteering to help 10 kindergarteners improve their reading skills. The mentoring program is a part of The Christina School Board’s resolution for students to participate in 20 minutes of unstructured learning a day. “I wanted to help little kids read, because sometimes in kindergarten I would need help reading and spelling,” 10-year-old Megan Levering told The News Journal. The program helps students improve their leadership skills, cognitive development, decision-making skills, concentration and self-confidence.

With Grammy Nominees, DASH Program Aims to Develop Philly's Next Entertainment Leaders (The Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

The DASH (Destined to Achieve Successful Heights) afterschool program is giving 20 high school students the chance to produce their own music through a 12-week program called “Songwriting 101.” The hands-on learning experience, part of a collaboration with the Philadelphia School District, will allow students to learn about various fields within the entertainment industry from professional musicians. “When you sit with these kids, you get to see their faces light up and you realize they know that they can really do this,” Grammy-nominated songwriter and DASH master instructor Kristal Oliver told The Inquirer.

After-School STEM Programs Inspire Kids to Keep Learning (PBS NewsHour, Rhode Island)

Ella Risk Elementary School is trying to boost the number of low-income, minorities and women in STEM fields through its afterschool program SMILE. The corporate- and foundation-funded program serves more than 500 4th- to 12th-grade Rhode Island students who participate in experiential learning in a low-risk environment that doesn’t punish failure. “We work very hard at promoting a cohesive peer group where everyone knows it’s cool to be smart. They identify with science. They identify with STEM. And that carries them into high school to take the harder science and math courses,” founder Carol Englander told PBS NewsHour.

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learn more about: STEM Arts Literacy Girls In The News
OCT
20
2017

STEM
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New commitments to equity, engagement at the CSforALL Summit

By Stephanie Rodriguez

“Power is the ability to write and author the American story… and that requires ambition to be nurtured; it requires the administration of an infrastructure that can do this.”

These words come from Dr. Kamau Bobb of Georgia Institute of Technology, explaining how institutes of higher education are, can, and should be supporting the effort to get computer science education to ALL of the Nation’s students. Dr. Bobb spoke on a panel during the CSforAll summit, addressing how the computing initiative is at the forefront of what equity in the coming century will ultimately be and offering a salient framing for why more than 400 cross-sector advocated gathered in St. Louis to celebrate successes and design for action toward achieving CSforAll. More than 170 organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, committed to various activities and supports to bring high quality computer science to all students.

Throughout the day of celebration on October 17, advocates shared resources, policies, and coalitions that have been vital to the ongoing success of the CSforALL movement. Many hammered home how reaching CSforALL will require utilizing the complete learning ecosystem, and reaching kids in all of the places they learn. Some highlights are described below; check out the recording for more!

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science Girls
OCT
18
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: October 18, 2017

By Luci Manning

How Important Is Time? Upcoming Event Shines Light on After-School Program (Dothan Eagle, Alabama)

The Boys & Girls Club of Hawk-Houston is hoping to engage the Dothan community with its afterschool program by hosting its tenth annual Lights On Afterschool event next Thursday. “We want to shine a light on the importance of the afterschool program in the community,” CEO Altha Newman told the Dothan Eagle. “The program needs the support of the community for us to be able to grow it, to serve more kids and their families.” The club provides students with a safe environment between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., a place where they can work on homework, exercise, and receive a healthy meal.

Henderson Children’s Center Draws Praise from Governor (Henderson Gleaner, Kentucky)

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin visited the one-year-old Audubon Kids Zone last week to see the afterschool program in action. The program was founded a year ago in the poorest neighborhood of Henderson, according to the Gleaner, and aims to help students in need succeed academically and in life by building lasting relationships and supporting them in their goals. “This is a gem,” Bevin told the staff during his visit. “This should be celebrated and replicated in other communities.”

Little Free Library Has New Best Friend – Girl Scouts (Youth Today)

For the past several years, the nonprofit Little Free Library has helped bring free books to children and communities across the country, partly through a partnership with the Girl Scouts. More than 500 of the libraries that have been built were set up by Girl Scouts, according to Little Free Library program manager Margaret Aldrich. “Community service is a core value of Girl Scouting. Girl Scouts establishes a sense of learning for girls,” and they want to extend that to others, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas chief development and communications office Stephanie Finleon Cortez told Youth Today.

Annual Lights On Afterschool Brings Law Enforcement and Kids Together (KNOP, Nebraska)

The North Platte Kids Klub at Wild Bills held its Lights On Afterschool celebration this past Friday. Youths in the program bowled and played laser tag with Lincoln County law enforcement officers, giving students the opportunity to build a positive relationship with police officers at a young age. “They help the community,” Kids Klub member Brooklyn Fries told KNOP. “They save the people who are getting hurt by bad guys.” 

OCT
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Success Story: Girls on the Run

By Faith Savaiano

Twenty years ago in Charlotte, N.C., a young woman began the first Girls On the Run (GOTR) team as an individual effort. But when the program was covered in Runner’s World, a running-focused magazine, the demand for this girls-specific running program exploded. Today, GOTR has more than 200 councils across all 50 states, serving more than 200,000 girls each year.

The program’s rapid growth presented the young organization with the challenge and opportunity to develop a more structured curriculum, according to Dr. Heather Pressley, senior vice president of mission advancement.

“The team at headquarters realized that the organic growth was great but it was very fast, [and] we needed to look into the quality and consistency of the program across sites where it was being offered,” Pressley said. “We took the original concept of building confidence through running and created an intentional curriculum with measurable physical, social, emotional, and life skills outcomes.”

SEP
20
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 20, 2017

By Luci Manning

Best Speaks in Support of After-School Programs (Branson Tri-Lakes News, Missouri)

Last Tuesday, Branson Mayor Karen Best spoke at a congressional briefing organized by the Afterschool Alliance in support of federal funding for afterschool programs. Best emphasized afterschool programming’s benefits for childhood development. “I firmly believe if you have a passion, it’s your duty and obligation to fight for that passion,” Best told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “As the mayor of Branson, it’s my obligation to fight for the kids in our community.” After the panel, Best had a chance to meet with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).

SHINE for Girls: Middle School Students Dance Their Way to Better Math Scores (Pensacola News Journal, Florida)

The SHINE for Girls program aims to inspire confidence and improve math scores for middle school girls by helping them learn through dance. The program is run by two Pensacola High School seniors and gives students the opportunity to partake in interactive lessons rather than working through books or worksheets. “The idea of our program is to make it so that girls are able to do math problems and to know that just because they don’t understand right now doesn’t mean they won’t be able to in the future,” Laura Hagy, 17-year-old executive director of the Florida chapter of SHINE, told the Pensacola News Journal. Students in the program have improved their test scores by an average of 50 points.

Kids Klub Climbs into Saddle with Mid-Plains Rodeo Team (North Platte Telegraph, Nebraska)

Students in the Kids Klub Rough Riders afterschool program are learning about horse care, behavior, anatomy, nutrition and safety through a partnership with Mid-Plains Community College, Dusty Trails LLC and the West Central Research and Extension Center. Last week, Kids Klub students met with the MPCC Rodeo Team for a hands-on rodeo lesson and dinner with the crew. “This was an impressive lineup of programming and a night they won’t forget,” Kids Klub executive director Carrie Lienemann told the North Platte Telegraph. Thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Education, students will participate in horseback riding lessons and other activities centered around animals and agriculture throughout the fall.

Students Turn Classroom Lessons into Musical Masterpieces (Bowling Green Daily News, Kentucky)

Adairville Elementary School assistant principal Jonathan Stovall is helping students learn classroom lessons through music in a unique summer and afterschool program. Stovall and local musicians work with students Wednesday evenings at NF Records to produce songs with original rhythms and lyrics on topics from the water cycle to the U.S. Constitution. “I wanted to build something that was engaging to kids and met kids where they’re at,” Stovall told the Bowling Green Daily News.

 

SEP
8
2017

RESEARCH
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Evaluating afterschool: What my toddler taught me about evaluation

By Guest Blogger

By Allison Riley, PhD, MSW, Senior Vice President, Programming and Evaluation at Girls on the Run International. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the seventh installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at the firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, and sixth posts of the series.

My two-year-old daughter and I like to take walks together when I get home from work. Whether we are headed to see the neighbor’s chickens or visit a friend, we always have some goal in mind when we walk out of the door, though my toddler typically doesn’t take the most direct path. Even if I try to rush her along so we can more quickly reach our destination, she is sure to pause when a good learning opportunity comes her way. When I follow my daughter’s lead, our walks are purposeful yet flexible, and I always learn more, too.

As it turns out, my daughter’s approach to a walk translates well to my workday world. As someone who’s spent my career evaluating youth programming, I have learned the importance of having a clear purpose and goals for a project while being flexible and responsive to information gathered during the evaluation process. Let’s look at a recent Girls on the Run study as an example.