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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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Recent Afterschool Snacks
FEB
26

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Creating healthy spaces for kids during out of school time

By Rachel Clark

Katie Giles is a project manager at the Out of School Time Nutrition and Phsyical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), a project of the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center.

“Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen afterschool programs make are ensuring that drinking water is served to kids and setting program policies not allowing in unhealthy drinks and foods during their program.  The OSNAP Learning Communities give programs a feeling of support- that they aren’t making changes related to physical activity and nutrition alone.”  Max, YMCA

Afterschool programs provide children and families with many benefits—from a safe caring space to academic enrichment opportunities.  Afterschool programs also have the unique potential to be health-promoting environments for children.

We know that most children do not get enough opportunities to be active, eat and drink healthy foods and beverages, and spend time in spaces free of unhealthy advertisements on TV and the internet.  The time that children spend in afterschool programming can be time that they are physically active, drink water rather than sugary beverages, and eat healthy snacks—with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Afterschool providers can give children these health benefits and they can do it with minimal time and cost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Health and Wellness Nutrition
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FEB
19

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Grants available from KaBOOM! support creative play in afterschool settings

By Rachel Clark

David Flanigan is Director of Operations for Program Management at KaBOOM!

Are you looking to bring unique and innovative play opportunities to the kids that you serve? KaBOOM! is now accepting applications for their Creative Play grants. Made possible by their generous funders, they are now able to provide Imagination Playground and Rigamajig grants to eligible child serving nonprofits and schools that are seeking to ensure all children are getting active and balanced play so that they can thrive! Nonprofit afterschool providers are eligible! Click here to apply for this incredible opportunity.

Imagination Playground is an innovative design in play equipment that encourages creativity, communication, and collaboration in play. With a collection of custom-designed, oversized blue foam parts, Imagination Playground provides a changing array of elements that allow children to turn their playground into a space constantly built and re-built by their imagination.

Rigamajig is a collection of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts and rope allow that children to follow their curiosity while playing. There are no wrong answers, and while the pieces can come together as a crane used to convey buckets or materials, they can also become a giraffe, monster, robot, airplane or just a "thingy." 

Act now! The deadline to get in your application is March 4, 2015.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Guest Blog
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FEB
18

STEM
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Guest blog: Help advance STEM education by participating in a brief survey

By Rachel Clark

Kelly Riedinger is the Director of Research and Evaluation at David Heil & Associates.

While there is a wealth of research-based knowledge in STEM education, there is currently no easily accessible, user-friendly resource for practitioners that bridges formal and informal (i.e., out-of-school) settings.  The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Association for Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) received an NSF Grant (Award No. 1420262) to develop, pilot, and evaluate a new resource that seeks to better connect practitioners in these settings with each other, and the rapidly growing research and knowledge base about STEM learning.  The proposed new resource will highlight successful curricula and programs that are based on STEM education research across formal and informal, out-of-school STEM education communities.

In collaboration with the NSTA and ASTC, David Heil & Associates, Inc. (DHA) is conducting a front-end study to gain insight regarding the potential for such a resource.  As part of this study, we are administering a survey to gather data and feedback. If you are a STEM afterschool program provider, we would like to invite you to participate in this survey.

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FEB
13

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Funding available for food skills education

By Rachel Clark

Duke Storen is the Senior Director for Partner Impact and Advocacy at Share Our Strength, whose No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Families on a tight budget report that the cost of healthy groceries is their biggest barrier to making healthy meals at home. But we know that with the right skills, shopping for and preparing healthy food doesn’t have to break the bank.

As part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, Cooking Matters is a free program that helps families shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget. Walmart, the national sponsor for Cooking Matters, makes this program possible.

Cooking Matters at the Store is a 1.5-hour grocery store tour in which participants learn four key food skills:

  • Reading food labels
  • Comparing unit prices
  • Finding whole grains
  • Identifying three ways to purchase produce

If you are interested in learning more about how Cooking Matters at the Store is making a difference in the lives of families in your community, visit www.cookingmatters.org/atthestore for an overview of the program.  It’s simple—a tour leader completes an online training, orders tour materials, recruits participants, and forms partnerships with grocery stores to host the tour.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Guest Blog Nutrition
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JAN
21

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: FIU's After-School All-Stars program helps middle school students excel in school, life

By Rachel Clark

Natalia Sol is the Vice President of External Relations for After-School All-Stars, dedicated to supporting the South Florida chapter of the organization.

Pictured:  Left to Right: JJ Calvo (NY Life Hispanic Initiative), Natalia Sol (ASAS SF), Dean Delia Garcia (FIU, College of Education), Pat Mccraw and Tom Krach (NY Life, an ASAS National Partner), President Mark Rosenberg (FIU), and Ben Gilbert (ASAS SF, Board Chair)

For the parents of countless Miami-Dade middle school children living in at-risk communities, the end of the school day can be filled with worry.

Did my son make it home safe?  Is my daughter really doing her homework?  Are they getting enough exercise?

Erik Torres, however, isn’t worrying at all.  Instead, he’s dreaming about all the things his 13-year-old daughter Victoria could do with a college degree thanks to preparation for high school and college success she receives South Florida branch of the After-School All-Stars program (ASAS), which recently partnered with FIU’s College of Education.

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JAN
20

STEM
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Guest blog: Student and families coding & making together

By Melissa Ballard

Ricarose Roque is a PhD candidate with the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab.  She leads the Family Creative Learning project, a program that engages whole families to learn together with creative technologies.  She is also a member of the MIT Scratch Team, which designs and develops the Scratch programming language and online community for kids.  Previously, she helped to coordinate the Project GUTS afterschool program in Chicago, IL and worked on other educational technology projects such as StarLogo TNG, a programming and simulation environment for kids. 

With our rapidly changing world, how can we engage our youth and our communities as creators and inventors to shape an increasingly digital society?  I believe that engaging whole families in creative learning experiences with technology can build a necessary network of support as youth participate and pursue their interests in an ever-changing landscape.

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DEC
19

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Every Hour Counts, a report from Vermonts PreK-16 Council

By Erik Peterson

Dr. Holly Morehouse is the Executive Director of Vermont’s statewide afterschool network. Vermont Afterschool, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit that supports organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

 

 

For every $1 invested in quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont sees a return of $2.18 in long-term benefits and savings.

This is just one of many findings in a new report, Every Hour Counts: Vermont’s Students Succeed with Expanded Learning Opportunities, from Vermont’s Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time.

The Working Group formed last June as a subcommittee of Vermont’s PreK-16 Council upon direction from the state legislature to evaluate issues of equity and access in Vermont’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), including afterschool and summer learning programs. The group was charged with identifying:  key elements of quality ELOs; ways to increase access and remove barriers to ELOs across the state; and recommendations for how ELOs can support student success in Vermont.

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Caption: Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Executive Director Holly Morehouse (center in blue) presenting the Every Hour Counts report to Vermont’s PreK-16 Council.

Making the case for ELOs

With only six months to collect data, outline our findings and develop meaningful recommendations, time was short. It helped our work immensely to be able to draw on existing research and advocacy materials. Instead of trying to come up with separate quality standards, the Working Group adopted the Afterschool Alliance’s principles for effective ELOs. We also greatly benefited from the release of the America After 3PM report and data, and built off of the Afterschool Alliance’s talking points to emphasize that afterschool and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire learners and help working families.

Connecting to broader conversations in the state

The Working Group was sensitive to concerns over rising costs and increased pressures on Vermont’s education system. Instead of portraying ELOs as something added on top of these demands, we included a section highlighting how ELOs help schools and communities do what they’ve already been asked to do. In particular, the Working Group focused on how ELO programs support Vermont’s education vision by addressing the academic achievement gap and summer learning loss; supporting schools in meeting Vermont’s new Education Quality Standards; and providing opportunities in line with Vermont’s recent “Flexible Pathways” legislation.

Recommendations

Particularly exciting is the report’s recommendation to ensure that by 2020 children and youth in every Vermont community have access to quality Expanded Learning Opportunities. Getting buy-in around that statement is a big step forward for afterschool and summer learning in Vermont.

Even though we included data on how ELOs can save Vermont money over time, the Working Group decided not to include a specific financial request in the report. We wanted to avoid the cost debate that could have distracted from the message. The Working Group felt it was most important to get broad-based buy in behind the report and recommendations first. Now that the PreK-16 Council has approved, the report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Vermont House and Senate Education Committees in mid-January. In the following months, the network will develop a corresponding proposal about what it would take in funding and infrastructure to meet the goals presented in the recommendations (i.e., access in every Vermont community).

Thank you to our funders

Key to the success of the working group was analytical support that the network was able to provide through a Network Data Grant from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the C.S. Mott Foundation. The goal of this grant initiative is to help statewide networks collect relevant out-of-school time data and effectively share the data with state legislators and legislative staff, as well as other key state policy makers. 

 

blogphoto1
Caption: Students engaging in STEM activities at Winooski, VT’s 21st Century Community Learning Center summer learning program.

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DEC
18

STEM
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Guest blog: New insights for improving afterschool science

By Melissa Ballard

Dr. Ann House is a researcher and evaluator who works on projects that explore innovative schools, science and STEM education, and out-of-school learning settings. She is based at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, a nonprofit, independent research organization. Currently, Dr. House is leading the “Afterschool Science Networks Study” which explores the state of science offerings and the external sources of support for science in California’s public afterschool programs.

How can students keep learning science when the school day ends? Afterschool programs are a natural fit for hands-on science and the development of inquiry skills, like posing questions, designing scientific investigations, and creating explanations based on observations. Afterschool programs have the potential to boost students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To understand the support networks underlying current afterschool science offerings, SRI conducted a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the state of science learning opportunities in California’s After School and Education Safety (ASES) program.

 

 

 

 

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Policy Community Partners
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