The Expanding Minds and Opportunities compendium highlights persuasive evidence on the effectiveness of expanded learning (afterschool, summer, inter-session, etc.) opportunities. In one article, the authors state:
“…Quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities work. We know that quality expanded learning programs are associated with increased academic performance, increased attendance in school, significant improvement in behavior and social and emotional development, and greater opportunities for hands-on learning in important areas that are not typically available during the school day” (Peterson, Fowler, and Dunham, p. 357).
Lisa Mielke, a former zookeeper, is the Science Manager at TASC (The After-School Corporation). She leads STEM training and professional development for directors and front-line staff at out-of-school-time programs throughout New York City. One of the ways TASC supports schools and community partners to expand learning opportunities is to build the capacity of staff members to lead STEM inquiry.
This post originally appeared on TASC’s blog on Feb. 27, 2014.
As someone who trains hundreds of New York City out-of-school-time program directors and frontline staff every year, I’m excited about the best resource I’ve seen in ages for supporting more and better STEM learning. It’s a new, interactive professional development website called Click2Science.
Alberto Cruz is the Senior Youth and Family Director for the West Side YMCA in New York City and an Afterschool Ambassador emeritus.
Through the generous support of the Robert Bowne Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance, teens from the West Side Y’s Teens Take the City (TTC) program headed off to Washington, D.C., last month to meet with our elected officials to speak on behalf of YMCA of Greater New York afterschool and youth programs.
West Side Y teens set out to take over D.C. and were led by former Afterschool Ambassador and current West Side Senior Youth and Family Director Alberto Cruz and Teen Program Director Johann Dubouzet. While learning about the political landscape in Washington, teens had the opportunity to meet with legislative aides from Reps. Rangel, Serrano and Engel and with aides in Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand to speak about the importance of supporting teen programs and in particular the Teens Take the City program. TTC gives teens the opportunity to learn and participate through mock proposal writing, research and presentations about city government.
Patrick Pinchinat is the Beacon Director at the Queens Community House in New York City. He was previously an Afterschool Ambassador.
I’ve always promoted the importance of afterschool. Before I became Beacon Director at the Queens Community House, I participated in an afterschool program as a youth. Even as a young person participating in an afterschool program, I found ways to advocate for afterschool. For the last few years, I’ve led an advocacy campaign to promote afterschool programs at Queens Community House, as well as advocate for out-of-school-time programs throughout New York City as a member of Campaign for Children.
During my year as a Bowne Foundation sponsored Afterschool Ambassador, I’ve been able to bring our advocacy campaign at Queens Community House Beacon to the next level. I organized several different events to help promote our afterschool programs and increase the momentum of our projects.
When possible, we always included students in our activities. For example, we’ve put on a talent show and an advocacy “carnival” in which our afterschool participants were able to showcase what they were learning. It was a great way to show off our afterschool program in action and demonstrate how afterschool programs help to inspire creativity. We invited elected officials to the carnival so they could spend time with our students and see first-hand all of the great activities our kids take part in every day.
Esther Grant-Walker is the Program Director of School Aged Childcare at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in New York City. Esther previously served as an Afterschool Ambassador.
A sustained advocacy campaign is key to raising public perception and awareness of afterschool programs. Planning an advocacy campaign does not need to be time consuming or costly. A very simple campaign can be as effective as an elaborate one.
During the past year, with the support of the Bowne Foundation, I began to develop a sustained advocacy campaign to promote my afterschool program. New York City afterschool program funding was threatened with cuts during the past few city budget cycles. As the Program Director of School Age Childcare at the Isaacs Center Afterschool Program, I can see that there is a need for increased afterschool advocacy to promote not just my afterschool program, but programs across the city.
I decided focus my campaign on bringing parents and schools together to support afterschool. Many of our parents take our afterschool programs for granted because they are funded by the city. They assume that funding for afterschool will always be in place. In reality, city funding is never guaranteed. To educate parents, I decided to launch an advocacy campaign that would not only teach them about the challenges facing afterschool programs, but would also train them and other community members to be active advocates for afterschool.
Jillien Meier is a Program Manager with the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices at Share Our Strength and oversees the Center’s work on afterschool meals, WIC and health care. Additionally, she supports No Kid Hungry Partnerships in Colorado, Connecticut, and New York City.
According to a recent survey of low-income parents, 81 percent report interest in having their children involved in fun, recreational, creative, or physical activities after school. Even better, interest in afterschool programming increases with the addition of free, healthy food.
Afterschool Ambassador Deepmalya Ghosh is the director of youth development programs at the Child Center of New York, Inc.
Increasing public awareness of your afterschool program is an important key to running a successful advocacy campaign. While traditional media sources, such as newspaper articles and TV news stories, are great ways to increase visibility, afterschool programs are increasingly turning to social media as a way to build support and momentum. One of the benefits of social media is that it is a low-cost, effective way to reach a large number of people.
During my term as an Afterschool Ambassador sponsored by the Bowne Foundation, I found great success using social media to build momentum for an afterschool advocacy campaign. I am the Director of Youth Development for the Child Center of NY, an organization that provides afterschool programming, among other services, to children in New York City. Realizing we needed to reach beyond traditional media sources when promoting our programs, we developed a campaign to leverage social media to maximize our advocacy efforts. There was a sense of joint purpose among other afterschool providers in the city, so I often shared what they were doing to advocate for afterschool with our team.
This guest blog is by Usha Chidamber, a D.C. Schools certified educator and management consultant working on education research and policy issues.
Fall’s familiar sight of yellow school buses ferrying students heralds the start of a new school year of activity, learning and challenges. For high school seniors the school year brings college applications, senior projects, proms and graduation! But not for the 1 million students who fail to graduate each year. Sadly, it’s common to see students skipping school, hanging out at street corners and edging toward juvenile crime. In support of September being Attendance Awareness Month, the Afterschool Alliance is releasing the issue brief, Preventing Dropouts: The Important Role of Afterschool that shines a light on the national dropout problem and the increasingly important role of afterschool in helping kids stay in school.
While encouraging progress has been made on increasing the national graduation rate over the last decade (now 78.2 percent), graduation gaps remain among racial minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged students. Dropping out, first and foremost, represents a significant loss for the individual who drops out. And for the nation, dropping out represents lost productivity, taxes, earnings, savings, and increased costs due to unemployment and crime.