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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
OCT
31
2014

IN THE FIELD
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Focusing on the role of afterschool programs during bullying prevention month

By Erik Peterson

While Bullying Prevention Awareness Month concludes today, thousands of afterschool programs nationwide will continue to play an important role in helping to combat bullying among students.  One of our 2011 MetLife Foundation issue briefs outlines strategies that schools and communities can use to help combat bullying through quality, effective afterschool programs. The brief, entitled “Afterschool: A Strategy for Addressing and Preventing Middle School Bullying,” exhibits how afterschool programs that provide access to caring adults and offer a more informal environment that is distinct from the school day allow children to feel safe from peer pressure, build confidence and learn how to deal with bullies.  

The brief delves into every aspect of bullying, including cyber-bullying, and displays the potentially damaging future effects that peer intimidation can have on both the person being bullied and the bullies themselves. In particular, it highlights how dangerous the middle school years can be for children, showing that middle school students—who are undergoing physical, social and emotional transitions—are particularly vulnerable to teasing and intimidation. However, the brief counters with successful examples, showing that afterschool programs can have immense benefits on children’s social and emotional well-being by offering them a sense of community, a chance to develop leadership skills and a safe place to go once the school day ends. Beneficial programs across the country are aiding in the fight against bullying and teaching children that aggressive and detrimental behaviors are not something to be taken lightly.

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
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.

JUN
11
2014

CHALLENGE
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Youth advocates hone their skills at the Afterschool for All Challenge

By Melissa Ballard

We welcomed more than 30 youth from across the country to this year’s Afterschool for All Challenge. Half came from science center afterschool programs, thanks to our partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). Youth from this year’s MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award-winning programs also attended. These young advocates visited Congressional offices along with their state teams and shared personal stories of how afterschool has impacted their lives. But before they got started, we helped prepare them in an intensive workshop.

The workshop started with the students brainstorming ideas about what advocacy is and how it’s done. The group focused in on one aspect of advocacy—that it gave voice to those that don’t have one—thinking about other kids in their home communities. Then, we discussed what kinds of "asks" state teams would make and how advocacy through Capitol Hill visits fits into the legislative process (and of course, we had to show the classic School House Rock video).

To prepare for their turn to speak in the next day’s Capitol Hill meetings, we spent time crafting and practicing talking points. The task was to come up with a short, succinct way to describe what they did in their afterschool programs; why it mattered to them; and to concretely describe the effect participation has had on their interests, behaviors, knowledge and skills. Our last task for the workshop was to translate these talking points into a memorable document to leave behind with Congressional staff after the meetings. Check out all the youth’s handouts in America’s Afterschool Storybook.

Feedback from both the youth and their adult leaders was overwhelmingly positive. Leaders reported that the youth’s compelling personal stories were a great impact at each office they visited. ASTC is currently working on a video capturing the reactions of the science center youth—we’ll post that next week. We’re looking forward to an even bigger and better Afterschool for All Challenge in 2015!

MAY
30
2014

CHALLENGE
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Preeminent afterschool researcher and 10 state education leaders honored as Afterschool Champions

By Sarah Simpson

As part of the Afterschool for All Challenge, last week Judge Glenda Hatchett joined some 250 parents, children, educators, lawmakers and advocates from around the country at the “Breakfast of Champions” on Capitol Hill to honor Members of Congress and state champions for afterschool programs. We were proud to give our National “Afterschool for All” Champion Award to Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine, for her powerful and growing body of research that has been used to improve programs and measure their impact.

Dr. Vandell was one of the first researchers to assess afterschool programs and has been presenting findings to her peers on afterschool choices and outcomes for more than 20 years. She has released more than 30 papers and articles reviewing the academic and social outcomes associated with participation in quality programs. She is a preeminent researcher on afterschool programs and outcomes, and her work has informed program and policy development at the national, state and local levels.

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.

JAN
28
2014

FUNDING
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Q&A on afterschool and the Common Core

By Sarah Simpson

Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards in both English Language Arts and Math, with the majority of these states expected to implement the standards by the 2013-2014 school year. As more schools begin to implement the Common Core standards, afterschool programs are well-positioned to support the learning that takes place during the school day and to align afterschool programming so that it bolsters students’ academic growth and engagement in learning.  

The Afterschool Alliance recently released an issue brief describing how afterschool programs are an ideal partner for schools and teachers in their work with the Common Core standards.

Below is a short Q&A on the intersection of afterschool programs and the Common Core standards.

 How can afterschool learning contribute to student achievement under the Common Core standards?

  • Across the country, afterschool programs are helping students develop the critical thinking, problem-solving and communications skills that the Common Core emphasizes.
  • Afterschool programs create engaging, fun, thoughtful and relevant learning experiences for children, allowing them the opportunity to produce and create, delve deeper into projects, collaborate with their peers, and focus on the learning that takes place throughout projects, rather than solely on the end result.
  • Working in partnership with schools and teachers, afterschool programs hold infinite potential to prepare children for college and the workforce, and have the competencies necessary to be successful, productive and engaged citizens.