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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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FEB
26

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Creating healthy spaces for kids during out of school time

By Rachel Clark

Katie Giles is a project manager at the Out of School Time Nutrition and Phsyical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), a project of the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center.

“Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen afterschool programs make are ensuring that drinking water is served to kids and setting program policies not allowing in unhealthy drinks and foods during their program.  The OSNAP Learning Communities give programs a feeling of support- that they aren’t making changes related to physical activity and nutrition alone.”  Max, YMCA

Afterschool programs provide children and families with many benefits—from a safe caring space to academic enrichment opportunities.  Afterschool programs also have the unique potential to be health-promoting environments for children.

We know that most children do not get enough opportunities to be active, eat and drink healthy foods and beverages, and spend time in spaces free of unhealthy advertisements on TV and the internet.  The time that children spend in afterschool programming can be time that they are physically active, drink water rather than sugary beverages, and eat healthy snacks—with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Afterschool providers can give children these health benefits and they can do it with minimal time and cost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Health and Wellness Nutrition
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FEB
26

POLICY
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Farm to School Act of 2015 introduced in Congress, would include afterschool programs

By Erik Peterson

The bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress yesterday by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).  The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program.  The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes afterschool programs and summer learning programs as well as preschools and tribal schools while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. 

The legislation has wide support from a variety of sectors for several reasons:

  • Farm to school is a proven method for improving the health of our nation's children.  Today, more than 23 million students are making healthier food choices at school, afterschool, and at home thanks to farm to school activities like school gardens, cooking classes and incorporating local foods in school meals. 
  • Demand for the successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program far exceeds supply.  In its first three years, the program received more than 1,000 applications but only had enough funding to award 221 grants.  In other words, just one in five projects was funded.

A complete summary of the bill and ways to take action in support of the bill can be found here. The Afterschool Alliance supports the bipartisan legislation and will be tracking the bill throughout the child nutrition reauthorization process this year. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition
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FEB
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 25, 2015

By Luci Manning

The 'T' in STEM: KidsTek Celebrates 15 Years (Denver Post, Colorado)

A small busload of well-dressed high school students arrived early at Mile High Station on Thursday with computers in tow. While a bit shy, any one of them could demonstrate how to troubleshoot a computer that stubbornly refused to get on a company network, thanks to the skills they learned at KidsTek, a nonprofit afterschool program that teaches technology to minority and lower income students. The program wants to steer high school students into computer careers, but they hope the skills they learn through the program can help them on whatever path they choose. “It’s not about getting them interested in technology. That is a byproduct,” executive director Richard Liner told the Denver Post. “We’re trying to give the kids the tech knowledge they need for any career they get into.”

Boise Rock School Rolls into Treasure Valley’s Cultural Scene (The Statesman, Idaho)

At 4 PM on any given weekday, a stream of kids rushes through the doors at Boise Rock School. The afterschool program teaches kids to rock like AC/DC or croon like Sam Smith, with classic rock, pop and indie folk music all mixing in the common area. What makes Rock School unique is that the students drive the curriculum – teachers are mostly there to coach and nurture, not push and prod. For kids who can’t make it to the actual Rock School, the program’s nonprofit arm, Rock on Wheels, visits schools, juvenile corrections facilities, homeless shelters and the Horseshoe Bend school district’s 21st Century Community Learning Center. “We throw around the word ‘cool’ a lot, but this really is,” program director Kim Hall told the Idaho Statesman. “This is an opportunity for these kids to shine that they might not get in other areas of their lives.”

Program Teaches About Girls Who Rock (Beloit Daily News, Wisconsin)

What do Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo and Bethany Hamilton – the surfer whose left arm was bitten off in a shark attack – have in common? They are strong women who overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams. They are the kind of women fifth graders learn about in the afterschool program Girls Who Rock (GWR) in Beloit. At GWR, girls chat with adult female mentors about self-esteem, friendship, good decision-making and more. Each session finishes with a large group circle where girls can discuss their lives. Founder and coordinator Jan Knutson said that fifth grade is the perfect time for girls to gain more self-esteem before entering middle school. “Role models are really important, especially for kids this age,” she told the Beloit Daily News.

After-School Programs a Big Hit in Westerly (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

At one end of State Street Elementary school, a small group of students is learning how to putt. Down the hall, another group is rehearsing lines for a play. In various classrooms in between, students are learning Italian, singing in a music ensemble, cooking, learning jazz dance and a little about nutrition. However, all of this takes place after the school day ends.  “It’s the second year the school has offered its afterschool enrichment program, and it’s thriving,” the Westerly Sun reports.  Organizers had to turn away 60 students who wanted to participate.

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learn more about: Science Arts
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FEB
25

POLICY
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Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act (HR 1042) in the House of Representatives.  The  legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill was announced at an event in Flint, Mich. last week and is companion legislation to bipartisan S. 308 introduced previously in the Senate.  A summary of the legislation is available here.

The reintroduction of the Afterschool for America’s Children Act comes as the full House of Representatives prepares to debate and vote this week on HR 5, a partisan ESEA reauthorization bill that would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that can be used for afterschool or in-school programming.

The House Afterschool for America’s Children Act:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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FEB
13

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Funding available for food skills education

By Rachel Clark

Duke Storen is the Senior Director for Partner Impact and Advocacy at Share Our Strength, whose No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Families on a tight budget report that the cost of healthy groceries is their biggest barrier to making healthy meals at home. But we know that with the right skills, shopping for and preparing healthy food doesn’t have to break the bank.

As part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, Cooking Matters is a free program that helps families shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget. Walmart, the national sponsor for Cooking Matters, makes this program possible.

Cooking Matters at the Store is a 1.5-hour grocery store tour in which participants learn four key food skills:

  • Reading food labels
  • Comparing unit prices
  • Finding whole grains
  • Identifying three ways to purchase produce

If you are interested in learning more about how Cooking Matters at the Store is making a difference in the lives of families in your community, visit www.cookingmatters.org/atthestore for an overview of the program.  It’s simple—a tour leader completes an online training, orders tour materials, recruits participants, and forms partnerships with grocery stores to host the tour.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Guest Blog Nutrition
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JAN
30

POLICY
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More than 260 groups call on Senate HELP Committee to support 21st CCLC afterschool

By Erik Peterson

Today a broad coalition of 266 local, state and national organizations urged the Senate HELP Committee to maintain the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative as a separate and specific federal funding stream for school and community partnerships to support students in grades Pre-K through 12 during the hours outside of the school day.  Quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs provide young people with the academic, social and emotional learning opportunities they need to be successful in school and in life.

Organizations ranging from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the Food Research and Action Center, to the American Heart Association and the National Education Association, all came together on the letter because of the broad value of afterschool and summer learning programs as a platform to make a difference in the lives of children.  Whether it is inspiring girls to pursue a STEM career or providing a venue to offer a nutritious meal and vigorous physical activity, comprehensive afterschool programs funded by 21st CCLC since 2001 positively impact more than 1 million school-age children each year.  The letter comes in response to Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander’s discussion draft ESEA bill, which would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that could be used for afterschool and summer learning or a variety of in-school student supports.  

The full text of the letter along with signing organizations including groups from 35 states and more than 50 leading national organizations can be viewed here and follows below.  Maximize the impact by emailing your Senators and urging them to support 21st CCLC—take action now!

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learn more about: 21st CCLC ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JAN
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the Senate

By Erik Peterson

With the Elementary and Secondary Education Action (ESEA) reauthorization process underway in the Senate HELP Committee, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced their bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act in the Senate today.  The Afterschool for America’s Children Act legislation reauthorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and builds on past afterschool and summer learning program success.  The bill was introduced this week in the wake of a proposal to eliminate 21st CCLC through ESEA.

 The bill:

  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
  • Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
  • Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education.  Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
  • Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time towards meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
  • Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
  • Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement, better alignment with state learning objectives and coordination between federal, state and local agencies. 
  • Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another. 
  • Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.

The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress as S. 326, signifying the hours from 3PM to 6PM when young people need access to quality afterschool programs that keep them safe and inspire learning.  Among the groups registering support for the bill in the 113th Congress were the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, American Camp Association, American Heart Association, A World Fit For Kids, Champions, Harlem RBI, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Collaboration for Youth, Save the Children and the United States Tennis Association. 

In addition to these organizations, it’s important that Congress see a strong showing of support from afterschool advocates across the country.  Your senators want to hear from you!  Take action now by urging your senators to sign on as co-sponsors to support the next generation of afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that are re-engaging children in their education and future.  Share personal examples or experiences that illustrate the importance of these out-of-school programs for enhancing learning, keeping kids safe and helping working families.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JAN
20

CHALLENGE
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Join us in Washington, DC for the 2015 Afterschool for All Challenge!

By Rachel Clark

This March, we’re teaming up with the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention and afterschool professionals from around the country to meet face to face with Members of Congress and urge them to support the millions of kids and families who rely on afterschool programs. In 2014, participants from 46 states met with their US Senators and Representatives—this year, bring your powerful story to our nation’s capital to share with 2,000 afterschool professionals and with our federal elected officials.

This spring will be one of the most critical times on Capitol Hill for friends and advocates of afterschool programs. Congress will likely be rewriting federal education, child nutrition, juvenile justice and STEM legislation this year, making decisions that will impact access to quality afterschool, before school, and summer learning programs for millions of children. Your elected officials need to hear your voice and story to fully understand the value that these programs have on the lives of young people.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool for All Events and Briefings
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