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MAR
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: 3 years of resources for healthy out-of-school time in parks and recreation

By Rachel Clark

By Allison Coleman, program manager at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and Ava DeBovis, national network manager at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This post was originally published on NRPA's Open Space blog.

In February 2014, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) launched Commit to Health, a campaign devoted to creating healthier out-of-school time (OST) programs in local parks and recreation. This month, we’re celebrating three years of successful implementation, great partnerships, new resources, and stories from communities across the country!

Over the last three years, park and recreation agencies have committed to implementing the Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) standards at their OST sites. The HEPA standards are things like ensuring that a fruit or vegetable is served at every meal, making sure that kids are getting 60 minutes of physical activity in a summer camp program, and providing drinking water at all times to youth and staff. Through implementation of these standards, more than 1270 park and recreation sites have provided increased access to healthy foods and new opportunities for physical activity for more than 228,000 youth. 

While the impact numbers alone are impressive, there are many reasons to celebrate this initiative—new partnerships have been created, new resources have been developed, and families across the county are eating healthy and moving more.

Key partnerships have created even larger impacts

In parks and recreation, we know how important partnerships are to the success of a program. Commit to Health has helped to spark numerous partnerships and collaborations across the country. From local agencies working in collaboration with state health departments, school districts, volunteer groups, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs, to national partnerships with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Partnership for a Healthier America, new relationships have flourished. 

MAR
10
2017

POLICY
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How much of your federal tax dollar goes to education?

By Jillian Luchner

So you give a dollar (well, probably more than one) to the federal government in taxes. How does it get spent? 

It might surprise you to know that only about 2 cents of that dollar goes to education

How does the government arrive at that figure? Many of the expenditures in the federal budget are mandatory, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and servicing the national debt. The government does not need to make a budget for these items each year, but will spend as much as it needs to meet its obligations under current law. 

The remaining expenditures—including education funding—are known as discretionary spending, which means Congress, through its annual budget and appropriations process, must determine a top level of spending for the year and then let agencies and departments know how much they each will be able to spend. 

Combined, these two spending streams—mandatory and discretionary—make up all government spending. And when you give the government a dollar for this spending, it spends just 2 of your cents on education. Many Americans think this is not enough. If you're one of them, make your voice heard today.

In the 5 Cents Makes Sense Campaign, a group called the Coalition for Education Funding—of which the Afterschool Alliance is a member—is recommending that these 2 cents currently being spent on education increase to a commitment of 5 cents of every federally collected dollar. 

MAR
9
2017

RESEARCH
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Webinar recap: Let's hear it for the girls

By Leah Silverberg

A new research paper from the Girl Scout Research Institute suggests that girls are in a worse state than they were before the Great Recession. Released in February, the report outlined the trends in girls’ economic, physical, and emotional health, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and educational opportunities.

To further explore the state of girls, the Afterschool Alliance teamed up with Girl Scouts and Girls on the Run International for a webinar on February 23, digging into these emerging trends and what afterschool programs are doing to help girls. Moderated by Afterschool Alliance Director of Research Nikki Yamashiro, webinar attendees heard from Kamla Modi, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Girl Scout Research Institute; Suzanne Harper, STEM strategy lead at Girl Scouts of the USA; Audrey Kwik, director of STEM and Programs at Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas; and Heather Pressley, PhD, vice president of Programming at Girls on the Run International about the report and what programs are doing to support girls.

During the webinar, Kamla Modi highlighted the paper’s key findings, bringing attention to the disparities between the 41 percent of girls today that live in low-income families and their higher family income level peers. For example, girls in lower-income families are less likely to volunteer, participate in student council, and take part in sports than their higher-income peers. Kamla’s presentation highlighted the need to invest in afterschool and summer learning programs to ensure that all girls have the supports necessary to succeed.

Up next were speakers from girl-serving organizations committed to making sure that girls have opportunity to develop their full potential. These speakers shared hands-on programming tips and strategies to best support girls during the out-of-school hours.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings
MAR
8
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: An equity action agenda for youth development professionals

By Rachel Clark

By Jennifer Siaca Curry, Ed.D. Jennifer has worked in the afterschool and expanded learning field for over a decade, working with the statewide afterschool network in New York and ExpandED Schools. She explored afterschool programs delivered through school/community partnerships in her doctoral dissertation and is a member of the board of the NYS Network for Youth Success. This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Illustration via The Second Line Education Blog.

We are living in an important moment in time (an understatement!), and recommitting ourselves to equity and inclusion for all in the youth development field is a must. Youth programs have a long history of responding to social needs—sheltering kids from war in the early 20th century, providing child care as women entered the workforce in the 1970s, extending academic learning time in the No Child Left Behind-era.

I argue that today we are preparing for a new focus: the social and emotional needs of young people, and that this new opportunity is incomplete without an antidiscrimination framework. The youth development field is poised to protect children and youth of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, appearances, and abilities - to embrace their identities and lift their assets to support them in becoming productive, engaged, and successful adults.

And the good news? You don’t need a grant to make this happen. Here are six things you can do today to have a positive impact on the youth you serve.

Build a personal understanding of the history of oppression.

Experts agree that having deeper knowledge about our country’s history is central to weakening racism. While it’s certainly easier to leave the past behind us, building an understanding of the events, constructs, and people who laid the foundation for today’s discriminatory structures and beliefs will make you a stronger advocate and enable you to pass accurate historical knowledge on. One of my favorite anecdotes is from Marian Wright Edelman: a Texas student recognized his social studies textbook ignored the brutality of the slave trade, which he had learned in his Children’s Defense Fund program. Not only did he educate his classmates, but his protest led to McGraw-Hill issuing an apology and an updated version of the textbook!

Mind your words—they matter.

First, I recommend youth development professionals subscribe to a philosophy of multiculturalism rather than color blindness. Saying things like, “I don’t see color” or “I treat everyone the same” may feel innocuous, but research and experience suggest that people primed to have a color-blind perspective display more explicit and implicit biases than those primed with a multicultural perspective. When it comes to specifics, the Opportunity Agenda has curated a list of words and phrases that impede equity and inclusion, as well as replacement terms to use instead. It's a great document to use as required reading for new staff.

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learn more about: Equity Guest Blog
MAR
8
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 8, 2017

By Luci Manning

Chefs of the Future Contest Has Kids Cookin’ Good (Daily News, New York)

Thirteen youths competed this weekend to see who could come up with the healthiest, most interesting recipe in the Recipe Rescue competition, part of an afterschool program run by the Department of Youth and Community Development and Compass. The students chopped, mashed, baked and diced their ingredients to cook up recipes like basil chicken burgers and baked sweet potato fries. The aim of the competition was to develop student interest in culinary arts and dietary awareness, according to the Daily News.

Big City University Provides Academic Enrichment Fun (Cleveland Daily Banner, Tennessee)

An afterschool program is helping struggling students in Bradley County Schools rediscover the fun in academia. The program, Big City University, focuses its attention on students from low-income families and those who are failing two or more subjects at school, pairing them with academic tutors and leading fun enrichment classes in science, art and physical education. “We focus on character education, academics and on building and growing the community,” director Stephanie Reffner told the Cleveland Daily Banner.

It’s Full Steam Ahead for Kids (Daily News of Los Angeles, California)

Robots, catapults, miniature tanks and other clever inventions were on display at Los Angeles Unified’s Northwest STEAM Fest 2017, a tech showcase for students in San Fernando Valley Schools. Students from more than 100 schools in the area came to the event to show off their creations from their extracurricular science, technology, engineering, art and math programs. “It’s all in the name of science. Engineering. What I think is cool,” 15-year old Amanda Basinger, who built a da Vinci-inspired machine that fires off ping-pong balls, told the Daily News of Los Angeles.

Mayor Meets with K.E.Y. Zone Girls’ Group (Duluth Budgeteer, Minnesota)

Young women in the K.E.Y. Zone afterschool Girls’ Group had the chance to meet with a female role model last week, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. Mayor Larson spoke to the girls about her job and what it’s like to be a woman in a leadership position, bolstering their self-confidence and encouraging them to pursue whatever career they want when they grow up. “For the past several weeks we’ve been talking to the girls about what it means to be a leader and how you can become a leader for something that you’re passionate about,” Girl’s Club leader Shelby Chmielecki told the Duluth Budgeteer. “I think it’s really important for the girls to see a woman leader who works at the local level and to see that it’s an attainable goal.” 

MAR
7
2017

POLICY
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House hearing highlights value of career and technical education

By Jillian Luchner

On February 28, House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chair Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Ranking Member Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) hosted a hearing entitled "Providing More Students a Pathway to Success by Strengthening Career and Technical Education." The hearing highlighted both the demand for career pathways that meet modern needs and the residual barriers to entry into career and technical education (CTE) programs that reflect old patterns of thinking.

Chairman Rokita began and ended the hearing by expressing his optimism that the time is right for passage of updated legislation to reauthorize the outdated Perkins CTE law last authorized in 2006. He categorized an update to the law as a “common-sense bipartisan reform” that deserves priority.

Rep. Polis honed in on statistics about the future needs of the workforce, which will require a much higher proportion (65 percent) of employees with postsecondary credentials as soon as 2020. Polis highlighted dual and concurrent enrollment programs as a solution, citing that students in dual enrollment programs are 23 percent more likely to continue on to postsecondary education after high school. Programs that are fully funded, locally flexible, and labor market-driven to ensure effectiveness and relevancy could act as a “ladder to lift students to the middle class” and “reconnect disconnected youth” in all communities, Polis explained over the course of his statement.

The hearing's panel included Glenn Johnson, workforce development leader at BASF; Janet Goble, a CTE director from Utah; Mimi Lufkin, CEO of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE); and Mike Rowe, CEO of the MikeRoweWORKS Foundation and former star of the TV show “Dirty Jobs.” Panelists discussed a range of ideas, including the importance of local partnerships, the skills gap, the importance of real connections to employment opportunities in local areas, the effects of baby boomer retirement, the reputation of skilled labor, the higher than average starting salaries of CTE-trained workers, the importance of data collection and reporting, and the need to encourage students into non-traditional fields—such as men in health care or women in construction.

MAR
3
2017

STEM
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Afterschool's role in preparing a STEM Ready America

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Afterschool STEM programming shone brightly under the spotlight this week with the release of a research study on outcomes and a compendium of articles presenting research and examples of effective afterschool STEM programming.

STEM Next at the University of San Diego (carrying on the work of the Noyce Foundation) and the Mott Foundation partnered to host an event at the National Press Club on March 1 celebrating afterschool STEM programming and its role in preparing young people for the workforce. Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr., an extremely distinguished scientist and professor at the University of Maryland gave the keynote address. Dr. Gates was also on President Obama's Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, where he played a key role in advocating for STEM education.  It was in this latter capacity that Dr. Gates discussed his belief in the value of informal and afterschool STEM learning, recognizing that drawing young people into STEM fields is often more of an emotional issue than an intellectual one.

This last point is a special strength of afterschool programs, evident in the findings from an 11-state study conducted by Dr. Gil Noam and his team at Harvard’s PEAR Institute and Dr. Todd Little and his team at Texas Tech University’s Institute for Measurement, Methodology, Analysis, and Policy (IMMAP).  They gathered and analyzed outcomes reported by 1600 students and nearly 150 facilitators in 160 afterschool programs. The data show that afterschool STEM programs substantially increase young people’s interest in STEM fields and STEM careers and can also help students to think of themselves as capable of doing science.  You can read more about these findings.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Science
MAR
2
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: 5 things to consider when buying software for your afterschool program

By Rachel Clark

By Megan Guerin, Product Specialist at Amilia.

There are a lot of software options out there that offer a variety of solutions to help your afterschool program operate more efficiently—but searching for software can be overwhelming. It’s a big investment and there is a lot to consider.

If you’re considering a new software purchase in the coming months, bookmark this blog for some handy guidelines to consider and questions to ask as you search for the right solution to fit your program’s unique needs.

Your current issues

Before you even start evaluating software, you need to have a clear understanding of the current issues you are looking to resolve. This will allow you to ask the right questions.

The kinds of questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • What organizational goals are tied to a new software solution? These might include reducing administrative work or increasing programming.
  • What are the specific problems you are looking to solve? These could involve staff management, marketing, registration, online payment of program fees, etc.
  • Do you have any specific rules that would affect the problem you are trying to resolve? These could range from registration restrictions to multiple locations to accounting processes.

Do your research

Most companies offer a lot of information on their websites and have sales or customer success representatives available to help assess your needs, product fit, and answer your questions. It’s a good idea to make sure to do your research and narrow down your choices to just a few vendors that meet your needs.

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