How is your afterschool program creating opportunities for disadvantaged youth? There's still time to share your story!
The White House initiative My Brother's Keeper is focused on creating opportunities for boys and young men of color. To help the White House better understand the important role that afterschool programs are playing in supporting boys and young men of color, we've been gathering stories from the field to share with the White House. We may also ask you to share additional details in a guest blog or on a conference call or webinar.
Guest blog: Building collaboration among afterschool and school-day educators at the Next Steps Institute
By Taylor Moore
Emily Vercoe is the director of the Next Steps Institute, a professional development program of Earth Force. Earth Force engages young people as active citizens in their communities by providing educators with tools, relevant resources, and support to inspire the next generation. Prior to her current role, Emily developed expertise in formal and informal science and STEM through work with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, the Colorado Youth Program and the Boulder Valley School District.
The idea of partnerships is not a new one: we get by with a little help from our friends; it takes a village; many hands make light work. Phrases like these indicate the importance of building communities of support to achieve a common goal. At Earth Force, we believe the power of partnerships can create an enriching and interactive experience within STEM education. This is why this year’s Next Steps Institute (NSI) in Washington, D.C., will focus on Integrating STEM into Communities.
Ellie Mitchell is director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), a statewide youth development organization dedicated to more and better opportunities in the out of school hours for all of Maryland’s young people.
The afterschool field has long embraced the idea that learning happens all the time and in many different settings and environments. We constantly seek new ways to capture, share, encourage and reward the learning that happens outside of the school day and school year. The growing Open Digital Badges movement offers an innovative, technology-based tool to make visible the learning and skill development happening in afterschool and summer programs. The Smithsonian, Providence After School Alliance and the Chicago Summer of Learning provide excellent pioneering examples of how to use digital badges for engagement and recognition with young people in the out-of-school-time space.
Mary Sutton is the executive director for the Michigan After-School Partnership (MASP). MASP provides statewide leadership to build and sustain high quality, after-school programs for children and youth in all communities throughout Michigan.
Don’t you just love it when some of the diverse multitudes of things we work on throughout the year seem to fall into place in a strategic way? Here in Michigan we’re happy to take advantage when there’s a “perfect storm” like that. Like lots of you, we work with many partners to help ensure that all children have the opportunity to experience high-quality and engaging activities to help them become excited and prepared adults, ready for careers and to contribute to their communities. However, exploring ways to connect more strategically with the formal education system and looking for avenues for recognition as imperative partners in helping kids succeed has been a challenge in our work.
Our STEM work over the last several years, facilitated by our Noyce Foundation grant, has created deeper and stronger relationships, and opened avenues of communication to help move these conversations forward. At a time when our governor has proclaimed a need for an education system that recognizes learning “Any time, any place, any space and any pace”—joined with the Department of Education’s focus on competency-based education and Michigan’s recent acceptance as an Achieve state—conversations began focusing on new pathways to help achieve the goal that all students graduate from high school ready for college, careers and citizenship. The premise of Achieve is that by enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems create multiple pathways to graduation, make better use of technology, support new staffing patterns that utilize teacher skills and interests differently, take advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students. This emerging Department of Education interest—joined with our work with the Michigan STEM Partnership and the Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network—gave us the opportunity to combine these conversations into the potential development of a digital badge pilot system that was met with great enthusiasm by everyone.
Michelle Un and Alexis Stern are project managers for the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance, an education initiative of United Way of Rhode Island that leads policy, practice and systems change to ensure that all of Rhode Island’s children and youth have access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities.
Out-of-school time and other expanded learning programs are increasingly recognizing the potential of digital badging to help make learning consequential for their students. In Rhode Island, several organizations, such as the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), have already successfully piloted the use of digital badges with their students and are now entering exciting new phases of development and complexity. While digital badges have great potential to recognize and reward students for their learning within programs, the real value of digital badges is what they mean to the rest of the world, including employers and institutions of higher education. Can statewide badging systems help us to make these connections and meet this need in our states?
Liz Nusken is director for the Ohio Afterschool Network, a program of the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, which supports children, youth, families, and communities in Ohio by advocating and building capacity with a unified voice for sustainable investments in safe, healthy, and nurturing afterschool experiences.
Afterschool professionals know that learning takes place at all times of the day and year and in all settings. Digital badges are gaining momentum as a way to recognize learning that takes place in and out of school.
The Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN) is one of five statewide afterschool networks that received a grant from the Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, to pilot a digital badge initiative.
OAN will partner with the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA); Starting Point, the Cleveland-area child care resource and referral agency; and Case Western Reserve University to conduct a pilot project that focuses on digital badges and adult learners.
By Taylor Moore
This post originally appeared on the National AfterSchool Association’s Tip of the Week page.
Feeling like integrating STEM into your current curriculum is an unsolvable equation? STEM doesn't have to intimidate or overwhelm you; it's an essential component of every afterschool program. So to help, here are eight tips to help you start the process.
Bob Seidel is the senior director of strategic initiatives and policy at the National Summer Learning Association. For more ideas on addressing policy makers about summer learning, contact Bob Seidel at email@example.com.
Summer Learning Day is June 20! But you can celebrate it locally anytime during the summer. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the students, educators and their community partners who are making summertime an exciting period of growth and learning.
It’s also an important occasion for calling attention to the challenge that summer learning loss poses to our communities. Mayors, council members, superintendents, principals and other local leaders need to understand that summer learning loss can undermine academic success and, with it, the community’s future, but that expanding summer learning opportunities can support and accelerate education goals.