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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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JUL
7

POLICY
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Senate bill recommends preparing students for career pathways through early support

By Jillian Luchner

Senator Kaine (D-VA) recently reintroduced the Middle STEP Act (S. 1609) and would like to have the bill included as an amendment in the ESEA reauthorization on the Senate floor this week. The Middle STEP Act, first introduced in September 2014, supports middle school students’ early exposure to career exploration programs including apprenticeships, experiential learning, individualized graduation plans, and career guidance and counseling in order to streamline transitions into high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. Co-sponsored by Senators Boxer, Casey, Whitehouse, and Warner, Middle STEP would allow the Department of Education to provide funds for pilot projects of up to four years for collaborative programs between institutions receiving Perkins CTE funding and local partners such as businesses or non-profit organizations. Programs taking place during out of school hours and open to all students of a middle school would also be included.

Kaine’s bill states that students engaged in CTE programs exhibit higher levels of college and career readiness and rates of graduation than students not similarly engaged. Moreover, the CTE programs provide important employability and academic skill training to participants. The importance of middle school programming in college and career success was highlighted in our 2011 issue brief Afterschool: Supporting Career and College Pathways for Middle School Age Youth. Friends of afterschool can weigh in here with their members of Congress in support of federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs, including these CTE programs.

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learn more about: Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUL
6

POLICY
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Report highlights need for federal investment in children

By Jillian Luchner

Between 2011 and 2015, federal spending on children’s issues decreased 9.4% in real (inflation adjusted) dollars according to bipartisan children and family advocacy organization, First Focus. In its recently published Children’s Budget 2015, First Focus provides an annual look at changes in federal budget spending allocations on children’s programs, breaking down allocations by category of children’s spending and tracing trends in mandatory and discretionary spending in both nominal and real (inflation adjusted) dollars over time. The report includes trend data on many of the federal funding streams that support afterschool and summer learning programs.

According to the report, two major factors have affected overall expenditure trends between 2011 and 2015. First, 95% of the 2009 stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding has been spent. Additionally, sequestration budget caps initiated in 2013 limit overall discretionary spending, establishing reductions of $54 billion in 2014 and $72 billion in 2015 compared to pre-sequester caps.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JUL
2

POLICY
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As ESEA heads to the Senate floor, let Senators know the impact of afterschool

By Erik Peterson

On Tuesday, July 7th, debate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—and 21st CCLC, which is part of the legislation—is scheduled to begin on the Senate floor for the first time in 14 years. For what is expected to be a multi-week process, the full Senate will debate and consider a large number of amendments to the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. The Every Child Achieves Act, authored by Senate HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) seeks to reauthorize ESEA and unanimously passed the Committee in mid-April.  The bill includes Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) amendment that passed by unanimous consent during Committee mark-up, strengthening 21st CCLC and helping ensure that 1.6 million young people continue to have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

The primary debate is expected to be around the accountability and testing provisions in the bill. A number of organizations and Senators have expressed concerns that without additional safeguards for disadvantaged students, the Every Child Achieves Act would not adequately serve and protect all vulnerable students. The 21st CCLC section, however, is not expected to be controversial. The language strengthens the 21st CCLC initiative by:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUL
2

IN THE FIELD
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Are you a rural afterschool program provider? We need your help!

By Nikki Yamashiro

Together with the Iowa Afterschool Alliance, we are calling on all rural afterschool program providers to complete a short survey on the challenges and opportunities unique to their program. By completing the full survey—which should take less than 10 minutes of your time—your program will be entered in a drawing for the chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card. It’s a win-win situation. Filling out the survey will make sure that your voice is heard as we work to better understand the issues providers face and practices they implement when it comes to reaching and serving children and families in rural communities, AND your program has a chance to win an Amazon gift card!

We ask that each afterschool program designate only one staff member to fill out the survey on behalf of the program.

The survey is open for just two weeks, and will close on Wednesday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

We’re excited to hear from you and learn more about all that you are doing for afterschool!

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learn more about: Rural
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JUL
1

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  July 1, 2015

By Luci Manning

Durango Girls Learn Elements of Science at Maker Camp (Durango Herald, Colorado)

Some girls use electric mixers to create cookies and cupcakes; the girls in the Girls Only DIY + Maker Camp, on the other hand, dismantle them to make steampunk jewelry. The camp, part of several weeklong sessions scheduled throughout the summer, encourages the girls to channel their inner inventor. “They begin to self-identify,” instructor Leisha Lawson told the Durango Herald. “At the end of the week it’s, ‘Oh, that’s what a scientist looks like – it’s me.” In addition to taking apart blenders and miniature cars, the girls made ‘cyborg masks’ out of paper-mâché-covered balloons.

Students Create Environmental Public Service Announcements (Austin American-Statesman, Texas)

Students in the Smithville ACE afterschool program are educating their community about how to dispose of household hazardous waste through creative public service announcements. Two students’ video ideas were chosen from more than 100 students who participated in a poster and essay contest about environmental messaging. One video, a 1920s-inspired silent film, depicts a villainous “Dastardly Dan” dumping hazardous waste into a river before the hero “Clean-up Kid” nurses harmed woodland creatures back to health. “All the students did an outstanding job,” afterschool technology instructor John Dees told the Austin American-Statesman. “They worked hard to learn about recycling and communicate their environmental message through posters and essays.”

Blog Connects Kids to Nature (Salem Gazette, Massachusetts)

Thirty Salem students spent the past year learning about the wonders of the natural world located right in their backyard. Kids in the Expanding Horizons afterschool program’s Outdoor Science Adventure section took field trips to parks and conservation areas throughout Salem then shared their findings with the world through the program’s blog. In addition to learning more about nature, ecology and the layout of their city, students gained leadership skills by managing the blog and participating in other aspects of the program. “Each student takes on different jobs – editor, photographer, safety… equipment manager and sketch artists,” Jessica Kagle, founder and director of Kestrel Educational Adventures, which runs the program, told the Salem Gazette. “We give them all different avenues to find their strength in the team.”

FUNdamental (Newton Kansan, Kansas)

Fourth and fifth graders at Latchkey’s summer program recently got the chance to experiment with ‘flubber,’ a thick goo-like substance they created out of water, glue and borax. They poked and prodded the goo to see what kind of noises it would make, smiling and laughing the whole time. The most positive thing we do is keep them up on the educational things,” afterschool instructor Nicki Van Der Weg told the Newton Kansan. “They don’t lose that over the summer.” The program rotates children through creative learning stations in science, art and reading, allowing students to build social skills, character and knowledge while playing and learning in a safe and fun environment. “

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learn more about: Digital Learning Science
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JUL
1

IN THE FIELD
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Recognize students' achievements with new digital badges resources

By Dan Gilbert

For today’s youth, learning takes place everywhere. We all know that there are a wealth of opportunities for youth to develop new skills and produce knowledge in afterschool and summer learning spaces, yet recognition of learning and skill development is all too often confined to the classroom, failing to recognize the valuable experiences and knowledge that students gain after the school day ends. A promising new movement to address this problem is gaining traction around micro-credentials called digital badges. Digital badges provide afterschool and summer learning programs with unique opportunities to recognize students’ achievements outside of the classroom.

Our new set of resources, “Digital Badges In Afterschool: Connecting Learning in a Connected World,” details digital badging efforts around the country. With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the resources include short case studies of badging efforts coordinated by statewide afterschool networks in Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Maryland, along with examples of digital badges issued in programs, recommendations for programs that are interested in introducing badges, and lessons that network and program staff learned along the way.

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learn more about: Digital Learning
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JUN
30

IN THE FIELD
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Check out our new look @ afterschoolalliance.org

By Ursula Helminski

Last week, we rolled out a new look at afterschoolalliance.org.  Don’t worry, all the resources you’ve come to expect on policy, research, advocacy, funding and communications are still here – but in a new and improved format. 

We’ve worked hard to make it easier to find the information you need, with brand new search features to make our best research more accessible and a revamped Afterschool Toolbox full of practical tools to strengthen (or start!) a program. We've also added new visuals to make your visits to our site more enjoyable.

There will be a few hiccups here and there during this transition.  We thank you in advance for your patience.  If you notice something awry while you're exploring, post a comment or drop us a line at info@afterschoolalliance.org so we can address it right away.

We hope you enjoy surfing around the new afterschoolalliance.org, and we want to hear from you! Do let us know what you think in the comments section below, and provide any suggestions you have for our site.  We will be rolling out more improvements throughout the summer!

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JUN
29

POLICY
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Afterschool policy advancing in state legislatures nationwide

By Sophie Papavizas

While Congress continues to struggle to pass federal spending and policy changes advancing afterschool and summer learning programs, advocates have been busy building support for local and state efforts to expand access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. From Vermont to California, friends of afterschool coordinated by Statewide Afterschool Networks have succeeded in fighting back cuts and laying the groundwork for new investments in out of school programming that keep young people safe, help working families and inspire learning. Below are a few highlights of them many actions taking place at the state level.

Vermont

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently signed H. 480, a Miscellaneous Education bill, into law as Act 48.  The Act, supported by Vermont Afterschool inc., established the Expanded Learning Opportunities Special Fund at the Vermont Agency of Education.  No money was budgeted for the new fund but having it established means the state can start raising money for Expanded Learning Opportunities through grants, donations and contributions.  Read more on the Vermont Afterschool blog.

Maryland

Early this month Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake began fulfilling her campaign promise to double afterschool funding by announcing $4.7 million in additional funds for afterschool programs in the city.  The Maryland Out of School Time Network worked closely with a number of state and local partners to build support for the funding. These funds will support community based organizations including Associated Black Charities, the Family League of Baltimore and the Baltimore City Community Schools’ afterschool initiatives.  Rawlings-Blake stated the recent uptick in violence in the city following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody makes investing in young people and keeping them safe in the hours after school more important than ever. Read more on the Baltimore Sun website.

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learn more about: State Policy
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