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JUN
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Postcard project connects program providers with policymakers

By Guest Blogger

By Sara Beanblossom, Director of Communications and Special Events at the Indiana Afterschool Network

As part of our program provider advocacy initiative, the Indiana Afterschool Network is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to share stories about the power of afterschool. Based on conversations we’ve had with program providers and policymakers, we embarked on a project that would most efficiently:

  1. Create an opportunity for providers, parents, and kids to share their voices on why afterschool is essential to them
  2. Create an opportunity for policymakers to easily hear the feedback from their constituents

Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse suggested a postcard campaign with clear and compelling messages. We borrowed imagery from the Afterschool Alliance’s clear and energetic infographics and worked with Burness, a global communications firm, to repurpose and customize the infographics to tell the specific stories of Indiana. The postcards were designed with clearly-marked blank spaces for personalized feedback and the exact name and location of each program provider.

MAY
11
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Apply to be a National Afterschool Matters Fellow

By Leah Silverberg

If you’re a committed mid-career out-of-school time professional who’s looking for your next professional development opportunity, the National Afterschool Matters (NASM) Fellowship could be right for you.

The NASM Fellowship is a two-year professional and leadership development training program. Through a partnership with the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, The National Writing Project, and funding from the Robert Bowne Foundation, the Fellowship offers a space where you can learn to “reflect on, study, improve, and assess your work” to generate an even greater impact.

Fellows will participate in hands-on inquiry-based research, learning, and writing under the guidance of experienced mentors; receive leadership development training; participate in a study of community of out-of-school-time professionals; and participate in two retreats at Wellesley College, let by NIOST and NWP. Participants receive a participation stipend for the two-year fellowship and travel stipends to attend the retreats.

Fellowship requirements

Applicants are required to:

  • Have access to reliable high-speed internet, technology equipment, and a Google email account
  • Attend a retreat from September 24 to 26, 2017 in Wellesley, Mass., and another in the fall of 2018 (dates TBD)
  • Participate in monthly virtual meetings
  • Produce a final project that may include a manuscript for journal publication, conference presentation, blog, recorded webinar, etc.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher

How to apply

Submit a complete application by May 31, 2017, including the online application, the online reference form, and a resume emailed to asm_nationalfellowship@wellesley.edu with your name in the subject line and in the file name.

MAY
3
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 3, 2017

By Luci Manning

Council Bluffs Schools to Expand Grant-Funded Before-, After-School Clubs After Seeing Benefits (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

A study by the Iowa Department of Education showed that participation in afterschool programs leads to increased attendance, better behavior and improved academic performance for students. Thanks to the favorable review, the Council Bluffs Community School District will receive additional funding to expand its afterschool and summer programming this year. “I’m amazed and thrilled because the data we’re getting is right in line with what people are seeing, which is increased achievement and attendance and decreased behavior,” 21st Century Grant Program Director Sandra Day told the Daily Nonpareil.

After-School Programs Help Nebraska Thrive (North Platte Telegraph, Nebraska)

In the North Platte Telegraph Nebraska State Board of Education member Molly O’Holleran and Beyond School Bells network lead Jeff Cole discuss that afterschool programs like Kids Klub in North Platte benefit not just students, but also parents and businesses: “Over half of the elementary school students in North Platte Public Schools are registered in KIDS Klub. These families depend on KIDS Klub to bridge the gap between the end of the school day and the end of the workday. The parents and guardians of these registered students are employed by over 350 local businesses. These Lincoln County businesses depend on KIDS Klub so their employees can come to work with the peace of mind they need to focus on their jobs. The evidence is clear and demonstrable: After-school programming benefits all Nebraskans, urban and rural alike.”

All-Girls Group at D.C. High School Aims to Build Confidence (Washington Post, District of Columbia)

At Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, 13 girls meet once a week after school to discuss how they’re feeling, how their schoolwork is coming along, and how things are going at home as part of the H.E.R. Story afterschool club. H.E.R. Story, which stands for Helping Empower Regalness, is a space for girls to come together to support one another in the hopes of boosting their confidence and their academic achievement, according to the Washington Post. D.C. Public Schools is planning to implement similar support groups for girls of color in schools across the city this summer.

Students Plant, Give Marigolds to Older Residents (Sunbury Daily Item, Pennsylvania)

A group of children in an afterschool program planted marigold flowers to give to residents of the Maria Joseph Manor nursing home last month, according to the Sunbury Daily Item. The program, Heeter’s Little Hearts, leads students on community service projects to develop compassion and caring for others. 

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learn more about: Budget Rural Community Partners
APR
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Keys to program success from afterschool professionals

By Charlotte Steinecke

This Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we’re celebrating you: the educators who dedicate your careers to teaching and supporting youth during the out-of-school hours. To highlight the expertise of a few leading professionals in our field, and foster widespread sharing of best practices, we asked four afterschool leaders from across the country to share their keys to success and sustainability.

Have your own pro-tip to share? We want to hear it!

Find ways to serve many needs at once.

“I teach sophisticated language, because it’s a key part of the success we’re having and a reason the engagement we have is so broad-based: people want to be empowered by words. You have to pull kids up—our program is based on research that low-income children have a 30-million-word deficit in oral communication by the time they’re four years old. And when we combine that with gardening, we’re connecting to so many family histories and cultural heritages, and at the same time we’re teaching biology, botany, chemistry, vocabulary, and community service.

“By connecting our work that way, by empowering kids with this rich oral vocabulary, we’re increasing literacy significantly. For a school like mine, which is underachieving, that gets you some buy-in!

“Parents say ‘Oh, wow! They’re doing better in reading and math! I’m going to encourage my kids to go to your summer program and afterschool program.’ But if we were to distance ourselves completely from the academics, they would say, ‘We need you to help meet the school needs, not just babysit the kids after school!’ So we need to give them the academic boost they need.

“Be independent of the curriculum, but honor the need for the literacy and math, and tie it into what the kids love. Give kids choice about how they use their time, in physical activity or gardening or service as teachers to younger kids.”  

– MaryAnn Bash, director of Each One Teach One: No More Gap in Colorado

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices
APR
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating the professionals at the heart of afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

From April 24 to 28, it's Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week! Sponsored by the National Afterschool Association, the week "is a joint effort of community partners, afterschool programs, youth and child care workers, and individuals who have committed to declaring the last full week of April each year as a time to recognize and appreciate those who work with youth during out-of-school hours." It's the ideal opportunity to thank and celebrate the nation’s roughly 850,000 dedicated and passionate afterschool professionals who work with our youth during out-of-school time.

Head over to the website to learn more about the week, spread the word, and join the celebration

From the Afterschool Alliance, thank you to the afterschool professionals who enrich the lives of their students and communities every day!

APR
6
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Tools to Build On: Creating constructive climates in out-of-school time

By Jillian Luchner

The recent national dialogue and policy landscape has exposed children of all ages to complex discussions about immigration, religion, diversity, safety, and community. In a climate of uncertainty, students can end up feeling frustrated, hurt, alienated, or confused if these often-taboo subjects are not confronted thoughtfully by adults.

Many tools of the trade exist to help students engage constructively and understand themselves, their peers, their community, and their country. When led by trained, well-equipped staff, afterschool and summer programs can provide ideal settings with the necessary time and structure for students to work through complex thoughts and emotions and develop their roles in safe and welcoming communities.

Over the next year, the Afterschool Alliance and a broad range of partners will present “Tools to Build On,” a webinar series of expert testimony, discussions, resources, and firsthand accounts on how to bring out and build up supportive climates during out-of-school time. The first four topics are:

  • Supporting immigrant students, families, and communities: Best practices for afterschool programs interacting with immigrant students and families (Wednesday, April 12 at 2 p.m. EDT). Register now.
  • Understanding and responding to identity-based bullying: Current frameworks and strategies for educators and youth bystanders (May 2017).
  • Building community between police and youth: Working to build positive and productive relationships between children and teens and law enforcement (June 2017).
  • Engaging the tough conversation: Learning the skills and tools to help students confront complex issues and feelings in a safe space (July 2017).

All kids deserve to feel welcome, valuable, and safe without exception. These four webinars are just a start, and we’ll be offering more webinars, practical tools, and resources in the coming year. Please join the Afterschool Alliance for this important series.

MAR
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club

By Elizabeth Tish

This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants, and providers of afterschool programs. This post is also an installment in our Afterschool & Law Enforcement series, which explores the ways afterschool programs are partnering with police to keep communities safe and growing strong. Our latest installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series highlights three recommendations for police officers working with afterschool programs.

Liam McEvilly, Program Director of the Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club, is a former police officer. While serving in the police force in the United Kingdom, McEvilly often worked with youth development organizations, inspiring him to make a career change and work with children full time.  

When he found a home on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, McEvilly wanted to reach out to the local police department to let them know that they were welcome to stop by the program when on duty in the area. A parent in the program connected him with Officer Carla Sias, who works on community relations for the Bainbridge Police Department.

Officer Sias began coming to the Boys & Girls Club weekly to talk and play with the kids. Sometimes she brings in other officers from her department as well—in December, they threw an ice cream party for the club. When Officer Sias is there, she joins the kids in their daily activities. That might mean joining a game of pool, coloring, or walking students to a close by senior facility to read to residents. She sometimes talks to the kids about public safety or answers their questions about police while they play.

For many kids, playing with an officer after school allows them to learn more about a profession they have not learned a lot about. Afterschool often provides a casual environment for officers and kids to get to know each other as people. It is an opportunity for students’ typical interactions with officers to be positive experiences, rather than only encountering police officers if a negative situation occurs.

For others, interacting with an officer might be more challenging. On her first day at the Boys & Girls Club, Officer Sias met a middle school student who had faced a negative experience with a police officer when she was young. Seeing an officer in her afterschool program made the student uncomfortable.  Officer Sias was able to talk with the student about her past, answer questions about the role of police, and connect with the student’s school guidance counselor to make sure the student was getting the support that she needed. The two were able to form a bond and they now check in on each other when they see each other at the club.

In addition to spending time with kids at the club and forming their image of police through positive interaction, Officer Sias has seen her involvement with the Boys & Girls Club affect other interactions outside of afterschool. Now when she visits schools, she is able to greet the kids she has spent time with afterschool, forming a stronger bond.

Officer Sias tries to develop a relationship with the staff, as well as the kids. She works hard to make sure she is an asset to the club, providing them with resources and support they might not otherwise have. She is happy to step in where she is needed and step out where she is not. Soon, when she has had time to identify the needs of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, she might collaborate with staff to create a more structured public safety-focused program and curriculum.

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learn more about: Youth Development Community Partners
MAR
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 15, 2017

By Luci Manning

Catonsville Elementary School Community Service Group Expands (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

Over the course of the school year, Westchester Elementary School students have run a candy drive for troops overseas, written thank-you notes to their teachers and compiled goodie bags for firefighters and police officers as part of a community service-focused afterschool program. EPIK Kids in Action shows the children ways they can give back to their community, preparing them for the 75 hours of service they need to log before they graduate high school. “Watching them serve and be excited about serving others is really cool,” teacher Maria Buker told the Baltimore Sun. “To see the big heart that’s inside of them, the fact that they want to do this and not run home and play video games, to make a human impact, you can’t put words on that.”

Citywide Poets Helps Detroit Youths Discover Themselves (Detroit Free Press, Michigan)

A poetry-focused afterschool program is building Detroit-area teens’ self-confidence by giving them a creative outlet and training them in writing and public speaking. Citywide Poets runs writing workshops after school and during the summer, offering students performance opportunities, pairing them with mentors and even helping them publish their poems. “I was a very shy child that didn’t like speaking or talking,” 16-year-old Wes Matthews told the Detroit Free Press. “I didn’t like my own writing. But after a while, I… [believed] in myself and the power of expressing yourself through poetry.”

Acquiring Hockey Skills and a Sense of Community, Youngsters Warm to Golden Knights (Las Vegas Sun, Nevada)

More than 60 After-School All-Stars students had a chance to learn hockey skills from the Vegas Golden Knights at a special event last week. Students met with team executives and played street hockey, oversized Jenga and beanbags with the NHL players. The Golden Knights partner with Toyota to run a youth hockey clinic in the area, and this event was another way for the team to engage with the community. “It has been a tremendous experience for the students,” ASAS executive director Jodi Manzella told the Las Vegas Sun. “For them to experience what it’s like to have partners in the community like the Golden Knights and Toyota to show the kids that there are people, businesses and organizations that want to invest in them. It’s truly priceless for the students.”

Oakley Library Haven for Teens at Afterschool Program (East Bay Times, California)

Students in Freedom High School, and their younger siblings and peers, now have a safe space to decompress after a long week at Oakley Library’s Teen Haven. The Friday afterschool program provides snacks and activities for the students before they head home for the weekend, giving them a place to spend time with their friends, meet new people and relax by playing games, doing crafts or watching movies. According to the East Bay Times, the program is free for students from sixth through 12th grade and is run by the Oakley Library Youth Squad.