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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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APR
20

STEM
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Enter the STEM Uncovered video competition

By Melissa Ballard

Every day a light goes on in a young person's head as they grasp new concepts in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM), all because an afterschool or summer learning program has created a hands-on experience where interests are sparked and passions are fueled. Now is the time to tell that story!

Afterschool and summer learning STEM programs are invited to enter the STEM Uncovered: Telling Our Afterschool Stories video competition, a national video competition sponsored by the Noyce Foundation with support from the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Create a short (3 minute) video highlighting the impact of your program—students should creatively communicate what they love about their afterschool and summer STEM learning programs and how it inspires their future plans.

Deadlines:

  • June 15 (for school-year afterschool programs)
  • August 1 (for summer programs)

Six winning videos (3 videos from each category) will receive:

  1. An award of $1,000
  2. Recognition at a national STEM Summit in September 2015 in Washington D.C.
  3. The opportunity to work with media consultant Mobile Digital Arts to edit and refine submissions for broader dissemination

Visit www.stemvideocompetition.org for more information about the competition and video guidelines.

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learn more about: Science Arts
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APR
17

LIGHTS ON
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The 2015 Lights On Afterschool poster contest is open for submissions!

By Shaun Gray

Calling all afterschool artists! Your artwork could be displayed at more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events around the world!

We’re looking for the best artist to showcase their creativity on this years’ Lights On Afterschool poster!  Last year we received thousands of youth artwork submissions from afterschool programs across the nation.  Once again for 2015 we’re encouraging all of your program participants to submit artwork that celebrates afterschool programs and conveys the importance of keeping the lights on afterschool.   We all know how afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire kids to learn. Have your youth participants show the world how their afterschool program has benefited their lives.

The 2015 Lights On Afterschool Poster contest is also a great opportunity for an afterschool program to gain national recognition for the great enrichment opportunities it offers since the winner’s afterschool program will be credited on the poster, too!

The winning poster design will be printed on tens of thousands of posters and mailed to more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events worldwide.  The winning artist will also be featured on our website, blogAfterschool Storybook, and a national press release.

The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.  Contest details and submission guidelines are available for download now.  Keep in mind that the winning artwork will need to be scanned to become a digital image, so avoid using textures or raised materials.  We love bright colors that jump off the poster so materials that won’t smear or rub off—like markers, paint and pens—often work better than crayons, watercolors or chalk.  Feel free to get your future graphic designers and computer programmers involved by encouraging them to submit their artwork in the digital form.  Be creative as possible!

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learn more about: Media Outreach Arts
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APR
15

POLICY
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Afterschool Alliance lauds HELP Committee vote to save afterschool funding

By Jodi Grant

The Senate HELP Committee’s vote today to preserve dedicated funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative is a huge victory for the nation’s children and families, and a testament to the dedication and leadership of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Committee’s vote to amend the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by reinstating 21st CCLC is powerful evidence that senators on both sides of the political aisle understand the vital role that high-quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs play in the lives of our children, families and communities. Senators rightly concluded that funding for afterschool is essential, and came together to preserve it.

New language in the amendment will allow afterschool funds to be used to provide enrichment activities as part of expanded day programs that add at least 300 hours to the school day. This compromise ensures that expanded day programs tapping into 21st CCLC funds will provide care to students during the hours when parents are at work and students would otherwise be unsupervised; it also provides an opportunity for the high-quality learning experiences that are the cornerstone of quality afterschool programs to reach students in expanded learning programs. This compromise helps us continue serving students already in afterschool and it paves the way for even more champions to work together to expand support and leverage resources so we can reach more students and families with high-quality afterschool activities, whether it be part of a traditional afterschool program, a community school or another model like expanded day.

None of this would have happened without parents and afterschool educators across the nation who rallied to the defense of afterschool funding. They know better than anyone that afterschool programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn, and are a lifeline for working families. And they rose to this challenge by sending a clear message to lawmakers — in personal visits, phone calls, emails, petitions, Twitter storms and more.

That advocacy must continue. Today’s victory doesn’t mean that afterschool funding is out of danger. Funding must still survive on the Senate floor, and then in a conference committee. The House’s version of ESEA reauthorization, which was pulled from floor consideration earlier this year, would eliminate separate funding for 21st CCLC. If the House reauthorizes the legislation without restoring afterschool funding, the nation’s families will have to rely on to a House-Senate conference committee to do the job.

More than 1.6 million children are in afterschool programs across the nation because of the 21st CCLC initiative. They are the winners today. Lawmakers must ensure they continue to have access to high-quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.

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APR
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Programs know what makes 21st CCLC work and have data to back it up

By Jen Rinehart

A few weeks ago we began highlighting stories of how 21st Century Community Learning Centers are providing high quality after school learning and enrichment for children and youth across America. We started with a story from Kingfisher, Oklahoma followed by Deborah Vandell highlighting the growing afterschool research base. This week, Ed Week jumped in on the action with a story about the 21st CCLC program in Walla Walla, Washington. Below is the latest in the series from Shannon Stagman, Program Director of Evaluation Services at TASC (The After-School Corporation). TASC, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing education and enrichment opportunities to kids in underserved schools, serves as an external evaluator to nearly one-third of 21st CCLC programs in New York City.

As longtime evaluators of numerous 21st Century Community Learning Centers, TASC has seen many programs in action. Features that are always present in high-quality programs include strong school partnerships, dedicated staff and a deep commitment to the academic success and social-emotional wellbeing of students. We asked the directors of two of the grants we evaluate to share their perspective on what makes for a great program.

“A great 21st CCLC program is a vibrant, safe space for creative learning,” said Rachel Chase, Program Director of Hunter CASE, which provides 21C programming at three elementary and middle school sites in the Bronx. “After-school programs offer opportunities for self-expression via art, theater and dance; physical activity via sports and games; and academic support offered with fun, skill-building learning. 21st CCLC allows us to expand learning beyond lectures and examinations; we have the freedom and flexibility to teach students about engineering careers by creating polymers, instill a lifelong relationship with books by traveling to our local library, and learn math skills by breaking codes.”

This flexibility and creativity in programming leads to strong outcomes, with participants at two sites performing three times better in math and two times better in English Language Arts in comparison to students in similar after-school programs.

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APR
15

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  April 15, 2015

By Luci Manning

Students Showcase Robotic Creations for Medical Use (Bristol Press, Connecticut)

At this year’s Bristol Middle School Robotics Challenge, themed “Med-Bots: Robot Transfer, Transport and Transplant,” teams of fifth through eighth graders in afterschool robotics clubs programmed robots to perform heart transplant surgery, guide an ambulance to pick up a patient, and move patients in a hospital to the appropriate departments. The students worked through trial and error to guide their robots through mazes and to perform surgery simulations. Although they didn’t always succeed the first time, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Northeast Middle School technology teacher Vince Jennetta. “In engineering terms failure is an important thing, but how you work through it – that’s how you get the grit and determination,” he told the Bristol Press.

Circle de Luz Helps Latina Girls Aim Toward College (Charlotte Observer, North Carolina)

Circle de Luz, a mentoring program in Charlotte, is trying to reverse the trend of Latina high school dropouts. Each year, the program selects a group of middle school girls who need assistance and continues mentoring them throughout high school with monthly in-school and afterschool programs. The activities include art and educational enrichment, as well as life skills like cooking, financial literacy and health and wellness. Circle de Luz also aims to inspire Latina students to head to college by pairing the girls with adult mentors who guide them the application process. Program manager Mary Kathryn Elkins told the Charlotte Observer that it is a six-year process that begins with “teaching (the girls) what college is and then having them believe it can be part of their future.”

Education Program Spreads Love of Music (Visalia Times-Delta, California)

A 12-week afterschool program is teaching violin to 25 second graders at Woodville School – very slowly. It wasn’t until week four that the students even got to hold an actual violin. They had been spending nearly two hours every day learning rhythm with clapping and egg shakers, singing to learn notes, and exploring the parts of the violin on blue “paper violins.” The Tulare County Symphony HEARTstrings afterschool program aims to reach rural children who rarely get a chance to play music. “The goal is not merely musical skills, but life skills,” Tulare County Symphony music director Bruce Kiesling told the Visalia Times-Delta.

Chess Club Benefits Students (Philadelphia Daily News, Pennsylvania)

When science and math teacher Jason Bui started the Minor Threats chess club, he – and the students who joined – had no idea that chess would have such an impact on their minds, their attitudes and their families. Bui said the members have gained increased focus, enhanced confidence and mended temperaments, and many of them have improved their academic performance. Chess teaches the kids to handle defeat and find solutions to problems. “[Chess] helped me to interact more at school,” 11-year-old Tahvon, who described himself as “not the nicest person” before he joined the club, told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’m still a little to myself, but I’m getting better with it. Chess is helping me more.” 

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APR
15

STEM
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Connect & collaborate with STEM programs through The Connectory!

By Rachel Clark

With the launch of The Connectory, it's easier than ever for kids to connect with STEM programs and opportunities, and for STEM practitioners to collaborate, develop partnerships, and share resources.  This free online collaboration tool gives STEM program providers a chance to find partners based on interests as well as a platform to showcase STEM opportunities to families.  Families, in turn, have a free, go-to resource to connect the children in their lives to STEM learning opportunities in their community.

More than 5,000 programs in all 50 states are already included in the database, representing a full range of topics in STEM, including coding for girls, robotics competitions and science summer camps.  Add your program today to showcase your work, connect to families and partners, and share information and ideas with fellow practitioners!  

To learn more about The Connectory and connecting with community partners in general, join the National Girls Collaborative Project and Click2SciencePD for the Connecting with Community Partners webinar on April 23 at 11AM PDT (2PM EDT).

The Connectory was made possible by support from Time Warner Cable and is managed by the team behind the National Girls Collaborative, in collaboration with Association of Science Technology Centers, Afterschool Alliance, Educational Development Center, Inc., Maker Education, the National Afterschool Association, and Zozude.  Help make the connections for youth to discover STEM: register your program today.

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APR
14

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate National Library Week: Build a partnership with your local library

By Rachel Clark

Libraries are valuable partners for the afterschool field, and there’s no better time than National Library Week to explore opportunities for collaboration with libraries in your area—with 7 percent of kids attending afterschool programs at libraries, there’s tremendous room for growth in these partnerships.  This year’s National Library Week, which runs through April 18, is focused on the theme “Unlimited possibilities @ your library,” and is the perfect occasion to encourage your local library to partner with out-of-school time program providers in their communities.     

Libraries all over the country have had success offering a wide variety of expanded learning opportunities—there’s plenty of room to get creative and build partnerships in any number of areas!  For example:

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APR
14

POLICY
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Baldwin introduces Afterschool and Workforce Readiness Act

By Sophie Papavizas

Yesterday, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Afterschool and Workforce Readiness Act (S. 899), which was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).  Baldwin is co-chair of the Senate Committee on Career and Technical Education and sits on the Senate HELP Committee.  The act amends the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by incorporating learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and career-technical education (CTE) subjects and giving high school students the opportunity to explore careers.

Specifically, the Afterschool and Workforce Readiness Act amends the 21st CCLC program by:

  • Involving local businesses and workforce boards as partners with 21st CCLC programs to improve college and career readiness and help immerse high school students in real-world work experiences
  • Helping high school students think about planning their futures by encouraging 21st CCLC programs to focus on college and career readiness in addition to academic excellence
  • Ensuring that afterschool programming offers a wide array of learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields as well as in career and technical education (CTE) subjects
  • Aiding states in identifying workforce-critical subjects in order to align their limited resources toward community needs and provide students the knowledge they need to get good jobs or pursue higher education

You can read more about the new bill in a one-pager released by Senator Baldwin’s office here.

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