By Luci Manning
Thanks to a $6,000 donation, the GANAS (Guide, Advise, Nurture and Support) mentoring program opened a fifth site last month at the St. John’s Episcopal Church in San Diego, CA. At GANAS, youth aged 9 to 14 can participate in afterschool activities led by trained mentors and local high school students, who serve as positive role models and help steer youth away from gangs and drugs. The program provides snacks and encourages children to share news of the day and play brain games. Pat Braendel, the program’s founder, told San Diego Union-Tribune, “The program develops critical thinking and leadership skills that help kids build confidence and healthy, balanced minds and bodies.”
Vanisha Williams attributes her confidence and sense of pride to an African-American studies class she took in college. Hoping to pass on this eye-opening experience to younger students, Williams began an afterschool program called “Sons of Sankofa” to teach seventh through twelfth grade students about black history, hopefully giving them pride and a sense of self in their community. In the Akan language of Ghana, “Sankofa” translates roughly to “reach back and get it.” “It’s about taking what’s good in the past and bringing it to the present for positive progress,” Williams told Northern Valley Suburbanite. “I feel that’s necessary for any success.” Sons of Sankofa will incorporate technology and social media to better engage students as they learn.
Last week, Montrose, CO area elementary school students, with the help of park rangers, worked on hands-on projects to learn about the Colorado River system at their 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program. Students built a replication of the river system and subjected a model town to pollution and precipitation to demonstrate effects on the watershed. Teachers at the Montrose Elementary After-School Program have planned many other unique and highly creative projects for students, with titles like “Boredom Blasters” and “European Escapades.” “The growth and the quality that we’ve been able to build and establish, and… the amount of children we have every day in our program is amazing,” Director Erica Jiron told the Montrose Daily Press.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative encourages chefs to visit schools and educate children on healthy snack options. In that spirit, Duquesne University Executive Sous Chef Zachary Puhala recently taught fifth and sixth-graders in CASTLE—Clairton’s After-School Teaching & Learning Experience—how to make hummus and applesauce. Puhala believes the key to getting children to eat healthier is getting them engaged in cooking and finding ways to make nutrition fun – in this case, by letting them crush chickpeas and mash apples to make healthy snacks. CASTLE program coordinator Greg Spotti hopes the students will apply what they’ve learned at home, thereby promoting healthy eating in their communities. “It's not something that has to be done at school,” he told The Daily News. “They can take this learning and share with their family and pretty much everybody else.”
Close to 16 million children live in a food-insecure household, where they are without consistent access to food. Afterschool programs can—and do—play an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles for youth, in part by proving a nutritious snack or meal in the afternoon. The Afterschool Alliance is seeking to learn more about the state of afterschool meals through an online survey.
We need your help to better understand the landscape around providing meals after school. Complete a brief survey by Monday, Nov. 24—which is a follow up survey to one conducted two years ago—and you can help us identify how providing afterschool snacks and meals has changed over time, and what barriers programs face to provide afterschool snacks and meals. The survey should only take eight minutes to complete.
Check out our Afterschool Meals web page for more information on afterschool meals, nutrition education and physical activity in an afterschool setting.
By Luci Manning
CV CyberPatriots Test Skills Against Hundreds in Nation (The Spokesman-Review, Washington)
Central Valley High School students are learning to close computer network gaps that can allow hackers to sneak in thanks to the school’s CyberPatriots afterschool program focused on cyber security. CyberPatriot was created by the Air Force Association to encourage students to consider careers in cyber security and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. 17-year-old Riley Madrian wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Now, she’s hooked. “It’s like trapping someone who is super sneaky. It’s relevant,” Madrian told The Spokesman-Review. “It’s like what should be happening at Target and Home Depot to protect people from their identity being stolen.” Madrian had planned on a college major in music performance, but now she’s considering adding some computer science.
PS 39 Students Use Their Green Thumbs, Learn About Eating Well and Growing Heart-healthy Foods (Staten Island Advance, New York)
Students at PS 39 – many of whom were affected by Hurricane Sandy – are getting a hands-on lesson on growing, harvesting and eating healthy foods, the Staten Island Advance reports. Earlier this year the afterschool students planted the borough’s first teaching garden thanks to a partnership between the Staten Island YMCA and the American Heart Association. After planting tomatoes, mint, basil, squash, peppers and cucumbers, students made heart-healthy lettuce wraps from the freshly picked ingredients. PS 39 afterschool students were involved in the project from start to finish; they built and painted containers, filled them with soil, took care of watering and weeding, grew the various fruits and vegetables, harvested and ate them.
Piedmont Middle School Offering Coding Class (The Anniston Star, Alabama)
Eighth grade student Chris Chandler has already programmed at least six games in his free time thanks to the skills he’s acquired during Piedmont Middle School’s afterschool program. In weekly afterschool sessions students are learning using Google Computer Science First’s curriculum via Scratch programming, which is a simplified version of the coding languages offered in upper-level classes. Superintendent Matt Akin told The Anniston Star, “The earlier we can expose kids to STEM fields—in this case computer science—the better.” He continued, calling the afterschool program, “a neat way to get kids attracted to programming where normally they wouldn’t be attracted.”
Carnival Mentors Help Students Cruise Into A Brighter Future (The Miami Herald, Florida)
Student Earl Generato from Pembroke Pines never imagined he’d be able to attend a private university because of the tuition bill. “My sister is going to college soon, too, and my parents wouldn’t be able to pay for both our college tuitions,” he told The Miami Herald. “I didn’t want to overburden them.” However thanks to The Carnival Foundation, the charitable branch of Carnival Corp., and the foundation’s scholarship and mentoring program, Generato was able to do just that. Now finishing his first year as a University of Miami Stamps Leader Scholar, majoring in English and biomedical engineering, he credits Carnival with enabling him to continue his education. The Carnival Foundation recruits students who attend the HEAT Academy, an afterschool program for kids in Little Haiti and Little Havana. Those who maintain good academic standing are invited to join the high school mentoring program, in which students are paired with a Carnival mentor. Students, like Generato, are also eligible for scholarships.
With Lights On Afterschool upon us and fresh on the heels of the new America After 3PM (AA3) data, two additional reports further make the case for supporting afterschool and summer learning programs. This week, Opportunity Nation released the 2014 Opportunity Index and the Children’s Leadership Council announced a new public opinion poll showing strong support for investing in effective programs that improve the lives of children and youth.
The Opportunity Index is an annual composite measure at the state and county levels of 16 economic, educational and civic factors that expand or restrict upward mobility. The Opportunity Index ranks all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and found that access to opportunity has increased by more than 6 percent nationwide since the first iteration of the Index in 2011. Much of this growth is due to large improvements on specific economic and educational indicators (such as the unemployment rate, Internet access and on-time high school graduation rate). There was less robust improvement on civic indicators such as access to healthful food, volunteerism and access to health care. In spite of gains in opportunity overall, the Index also shows that this progress is not enough to ensure that all Americans, particularly teens and young adults, get their fair shot at the American Dream. In particular, while the number of young Americans ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor working dropped significantly since 2013—from 5.8 million to 5.6 million in 2014—the four-year trend is more modest: there were 5.66 million disconnected youth in 2011. Afterschool and summer learning programs, particularly for older youth, can help close the opportunity gap by engaging young people through quality college and career readiness programs.
Nutritious meals provided to children during afterschool and summer learning programs have the dual effect of nourishing students while making them more apt to learn and benefit from enriching activities. And according to Baltimore’s Holabird Academy Principal Anthony Ruby, the shared meals also build a sense of community that helps foster student success. Legislation to strengthen out-of-school-time child nutrition programs could increase this positive impact on young people.
On Oct. 8, Mr. Ruby joined Crystal FitzSimmons of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Elena Rocha of the YMCA of the USA, and Terri Kerwawich of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department in addressing Congressional staff during a briefing on Capitol Hill focusing on feeding children year-round through the afterschool and summer meal programs.
A standing-room only crowd of policy makers, advocates and media heard about the vital role played by the At-Risk Afterschool Meals and the Summer Nutrition programs in providing nutritious food for hungry children when school is out of session:
By Luci Manning
New Bowie Library Program Stops the “Shushing” (The Gazette, Maryland)
The new Teen Zone program at the Bowie Branch Library is allowing students to play board games, eat, listen to music, and even talk with friends above a whisper. The free program launched in August and gives teens a supervised place to meet up after school to do homework or relax every day between 2:30 and 6:00 p.m. The library’s new Youth Services Coordinator Joslyn Jones tells The Gazette that since Teen Zone launched, there has been a reduction in students loitering outside the library unsupervised. “This is a space for them to decompress… we want them to feel welcome,” she said.
UGA Team Begins After-school Enrichment Program at Two Clarke County Elementary Schools (UGA Today, Georgia)
A partnership between University of Georgia (UGA) faculty and the Clark County School District is giving elementary students a chance to participate in a new afterschool program aimed at improving health and stimulating learning in math and reading. The Physical Activity and Learning program is funded from a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. A decade of research showing that children’s increased physical activity can lead to higher academic gains went into creating the program’s curriculum. “It’s fun to watch children learn and grown, and it’s an important opportunity for our UGA students to learn to engage in and evaluate experimental practices as teachers,” Paula Schwanenflugel, a professor of educational psychology and part of the interdisciplinary community service project at UGA, told UGA Today. The program aims to be completely sustainable at the end of the five year grant.
UC Offering After-School STEAM Program (The Register-Herald, West Virginia)
Middle- and high-school students are being offered an afterschool program that incorporates science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts (STEAM) working with student mentors from the University of Charleston-Beckley campus. The Science Behind the Art Experience (SBAE) will engage students in integrated science lab activities, art-making sessions, writing and critical reflection. “For the southern West Virginia youth, SBAE will fulfill a need for supplemental art education and will contribute to the increase in science literacy,” Dr. Aida E. Jimenez Esquilin, assistant professor of biology, told The Register-Herald. The program is funded with a Beckley Area Foundation grant and also supported by funds from the Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
Soccer Teams to ‘Snack it Up’ With Veggies, Fruits (Associated Press, New Hampshire)
New Hampshire soccer coaches are receiving coupon booklets for discounted fruits and vegetables thanks to the new “Snack it Up” program designed to stress more healthful eating options. Eric Redder, technical director of New Hampshire Soccer Association, tells the Associated Press, “We are thrilled to participate in Snack It Up so that our coaches can help youth athletes fuel up on healthier snacks more affordably.” Snack it Up was created as an initiative of ChildObesity180 at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition to help coaches and afterschool program coordinators prepare better snacks through a supportive team of community partners.
By Luci Manning
Commentary: The Importance of Afterschool Programming (The Palm Beach Post, Florida)
Mayors Karl Dean and Betsy Price are asking their fellow mayors, city council members and other community leaders to take action to make afterschool programs a priority. In The Palm Beach Post, Dean and Price write, “Participating in high-quality afterschool programs has been shown to promote positive behaviors such as school attendance, and may help boost academic achievement, civic engagement and self-confidence, while reducing such dangers as obesity and juvenile crime…we need more cities to get on board. We urge city leaders to bring together key stakeholders to talk about—and take action on—local afterschool needs. Mayors and city council members can lead key players to work together effectively. And we need cities, businesses and private funders to invest more in afterschool. Such an effort will change young lives, help families and strengthen neighborhoods.” Mayors Dean and Price are on the Afterschool Alliance Board of Directors and received funding from The Wallace Foundation to expand afterschool opportunities in Nashville, Tenn., and Ft. Worth, Texas.
Theresa Horton Aces Courtrooms and Kitchens (Greenville Online, South Carolina)
An afterschool program from Resurrection Power Ministries in Travelers Rest is teaching children, ages 6 to 10, how to be self-sufficient in the kitchen. In the program’s first year, students learned how to boil an egg, chop vegetables, and ultimately made a Nicoise salad at the end of term for their parents. Instructor Theresa Horton tells Greenville Online that she’s teaching the young kids about nutrition and cooking, one skill at a time. She said the afterschool program shows students “order and caring and discipline and that work is part of life.”
Flamingos in Payette (Independent Enterprise, Oregon)
Payette Primary School’s teachers have people flocking to donate to their cause. Educators are helping raise money to support the Payette Primary School 21st Century Community Leaning Center kindergarten program and fix the school playground by temporarily migrating a flock of flamingos to yards across Ontario. These quirky birds will roost in anyone’s yard for a day or two if a friend pays the school to place the birds there, the Independent Enterprise reports.
TPS Seeking to Expand Community Hubs (The Blade, Ohio)
Despite funding cuts, Toledo Public Schools and United Way of Greater Toledo are trying to continue expanding the successful “community hubs” they created three years ago. The community hubs coordinate afterschool programs, medical and dental health programs, and social services to address the whole scope of problems that can inhibit a child’s ability to learn. Last week leaders at United Way held a strategic planning session to develop a sustainable way to spread community hubs throughout Toledo. George Chapman, former chief executive of Health Care REIT Inc., has been pitching donations for the concept, saying this money would make a real difference and told The Blade, “Equal opportunity is what this country is about.”
In many parts of the country, summer is drawing to a close as many kids are heading back to the classroom during the final days of August. For children that rely on federal child nutrition programs, back to school also means back to consistent, healthful and nutritious meals, including those provided by the Department of Agriculture’s At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program.
If you're not already serving afterschool meals in your program, consider participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program. Afterschool programs with more than 50 percent of their students receiving free and reduced price school lunches are eligible to serve these meals. Participating in the program is easy and it gives you the opportunity to build community partnerships with your school district’s school nutrition department and anti-hunger advocacy organizations.
Whether you're just starting to serve afterschool meals or are looking to increase participation in your program, the following tips should help you successfully maximize participation: