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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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SEP
30
2014

RESEARCH
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Just released - Afterschool in Action: Promoting Middle School Success Through Innovative Afterschool Programs

By Nikki Yamashiro

The Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation are proud to release “Afterschool in Action: Promoting Middle School Success Through Innovative Afterschool Programs.”  Released last week at the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Multi-State Conference in Louisville, Ky., this year’s compendium takes a reflective look at the six rounds of the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards; features an in-depth profile on each of the five most recent MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winners, highlighting each program’s mission and goals, activities, history, evolution and expansion; and includes MetLife Foundation issue briefs covering the topics of the Common Core State Standards, supporting students with disabilities and other special needs, keeping kids safe and supported in the hours after school, and using data to better serve students.

It’s inspiring to view the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards in its entirety—where close to 100 afterschool programs across 30 states and more than 60 cities have been highlighted for their work supporting middle school students,  their families and their community.  At the Afterschool Alliance, we know that this is a small sampling of the thousands of afterschool programs across the county that are providing integral supports to kids of all ages—exciting kids about learning, providing healthful snacks and meals, encouraging students to explore their interests and discover new skills, and providing supportive mentors. 

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learn more about: Issue Briefs MetLife Innovator Awards
SEP
15
2014

POLICY
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Sen. Kaine introduces Middle STEP Act to boost middle school career exploration

By Sophie Papavizas

Last week, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced the Middle School Technical Education Program or Middle STEP Act (S. 2788).  The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Boxer, Casey and Warner and is intended to increase the exposure of middle school students to careers outside of traditional pathways through career and technical education.  When introducing the bill, Sen. Kaine said:

“Career and technical education, CTE, are a proven way to help students explore their own strengths and preferences, as well as how they match up with potential future careers. However, limited funding for middle school CTE programming often means students have to wait until high school for this exposure.

Studies have found that middle school students greatly benefit from career and technical education development programs that promote career exploration skills, as well as increase knowledge of career options and career pathways. Middle school is an important time for students to explore their own strengths, likes, and dislikes, and career and technical education exploration programs are great tools to educate them about the type of course or training that goes into a career field that matches their interests.”

AUG
5
2014

RESEARCH
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New MetLife Foundation issue brief: Afterschool Programs Using Data to Better Serve Students

By Nikki Yamashiro

FUSE, an afterschool program in Chicago, Illinois, uses the student participation information they’ve collected—through their Web platform, in-person observations, video observations and student surveys—to determine what activities are most appealing to their students, why they sustain student interest, and then designs new activities that can better support the development and continuation of students’ learning pathways.

BUILD, a 2014 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winner, developed a new program aimed at addressing their students’ mental health, physical health and overall wellness after they discovered through program data that 10 percent of their students identified as LGBTQ and 40 percent were unsure if they had health insurance. 

These are just a few examples of afterschool programs that are using data to improve programming and are featured in the final issue brief of our latest MetLife Foundation issue brief series. “Looking at the Data: Afterschool Programs Using Data to Better Serve Students” was released today at the National Summit on Authentic Youth Engagement in Chicago, where our Field Outreach Manager Alexis Steines and Dr. Roslind Blasingame-Buford, executive director of BUILD, spoke about how afterschool programs can engage youth by connecting them to a network of supports.

MAY
21
2014

RESEARCH
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New MetLife Foundation issue brief: Keeping Kids Safe and Supported in the Hours After School

By Nikki Yamashiro

In New Britain, Conn., New Britain YWCA STRIVE is the only program in the area that provides academic enrichment, health and wellness programming, and positive youth development during the after school hours to middle school girls identified as at-risk.  A program alumnus from YWCA STRIVE shares:

“Growing up in New Britain can be tough [sic.] there are many factors that can distract a young person and guide them through the wrong path.  The transition from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school can be rough on pre-teens and teens…The pressure to fit in for young people is very strong, especially for girls.  During my middle school career, I found comfort in a wonderful program offered at the YWCA STRIVE…This program helped me blossom… STRIVE became my safe zone… STRIVE was more than a program.  It was a sisterhood.”

MAR
3
2014

RESEARCH
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New MetLife Foundation issue brief: Afterschool Supporting Students with Disabilities and Other Special Needs

By Nikki Yamashiro

At the Afterschool Alliance we constantly work to provide information and research that is most relevant and pressing in the afterschool field.  Last week, our communications manager posted a blog that shared our most popular documents in 2013 and the document that took the number two spot was our 2008 issue brief, “Afterschool Benefits Kids with Special Needs.”  I’m happy to share that our latest MetLife Foundation issue brief, “Afterschool Supporting Students with Disabilities and Other Special Needs,” is an update to our 2008 brief.

This issue brief provides new statistics and research on students with disabilities and other special needs, highlighting the benefits of inclusive learning environments and the role that afterschool programs play to help students of all abilities grow academically, socially and emotionally.  Although students with disabilities and other special needs face their own set of challenges as they move through school and on to adulthood, providing opportunities to participate in activities in a meaningful way, learning side-by-side with peers without disabilities, developing friendships and other life skills, and feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance, are all ways that can help them address and overcome the challenges in their life.  The brief discusses the variety of ways afterschool programs provide an inclusive learning environment and features afterschool programs across the country, from Unified Theater in Hartford, Connecticut—a program fostering inclusion and developing student leaders through the arts, to Thriving Minds After-School in Dallas, Texas—an afterschool program that uses parent feedback to tailor their programming to best support their students.

We released this issue brief at the National AfterSchool Association’s Annual Convention in New York City over the weekend.  If you attended, I hope that you were able to stop by our booth and pick up a copy.

FEB
28
2014

FUNDING
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This is what your colleagues are reading

By Sarah Simpson

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to the huge library of research and reports we publish on our website.  To help you out, we’ve compiled a reading list of the top 10 most-downloaded documents from our website in 2013. 

Even if you’ve read them all before, now is a great time to brush up on these popular afterschool topics for 2014:

  1. Afterschool Outcomes 1-pager 
  2. Afterschool Benefits Kids with Special Needs (2008)
  3. Afterschool: A Key to Successful Parent Engagement (2012)
  4. Afterschool: A Strategy for Addressing and Preventing Middle School Bullying (2011)
  5. Aligning Afterschool with the Regular School Day: The Perfect Complement (2011)
  6. English Language Learners: Becoming Fluent in Afterschool (2011)
  7. Quality Afterschool: Helping Programs Achieve it and Policies Support it (2011)
  8. The Importance of Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs in Africa-American and Latino Communities (2013)
  9. Afterschool: Providing Multiple Benefits to Middle School Students (2010)
  10. Arts Enrichment in Afterschool (2012)
FEB
25
2014

STEM
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STEM webinar re-cap: Engineering and Computing in Afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

To celebrate last week’s national Engineers Week, the Afterschool Alliance hosted a webinar featuring three incredible afterschool programs engaging students in engineering, computing and technology education. We were joined by:

  • Jen Joyce, Director of Professional Development at Techbridge in Oakland, CA
  • Andrew Coy, Executive Director of Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, MD
  • Maureen Psaila-Dombrowski, Program Coordinator at the Santa Fe Institute, representing Project GUTS

All three were featured in our latest issue brief on computing and engineering, and they were able to provide a clearer picture on what has made their afterschool programs successful. Program profiles in our Afterschool STEM Storybook provide additional information. You can watch the full recording and view the slides on our webinar archives page. Below is a quick re-cap!

FEB
18
2014

STEM
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STEM learning across settings: Cultivating learning ecosystems

By Anita Krishnamurthi

There has been a lot of talk recently about learning across settings and constructing or cultivating “ecosystems” for learning.  This refers to the notion that there are many influences and supports a young person draws on; when we put the learner at the center rather than the institutions where learning might occur, we see that schools, while crucially important, are not the only player in this system.  While the notion of such “learning ecosystems” has been around for many decades, it's gaining renewed attention as we try to truly rethink how we approach (STEM) education improvement.  Afterschool programs are very much at the heart of this debate. 

As part of my work to highlight the potential of afterschool programs as partners in STEM education, I have been part of a few recent efforts to increase the discussion of this idea.  We hope that we can foster a robust debate and change some of the policies and funding streams to allow such ecosystems to thrive.  But first, we have a lot of work to do to think through what this might look like and what issues we need to consider.