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SEP
29
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Pro sports can connect kids to afterschool STEAM learning

By Guest Blogger

By Jesse Lovejoy, director of STEAM Education for the San Francisco 49ers and managing partner of EDU Academy. More information on 49ers STEAM programming is available here

On its best days, informal and afterschool education is cool. It’s different. It lights fires. For many kids, it’s a window into new way of thinking about subjects they either don’t know or think they don’t like. Sports can be a powerful connector of kids to content—one on which the San Francisco 49ers capitalize, through the organization’s education work in the Bay Area.

“Some kids think learning isn’t cool,” said George Garcia, lead STEAM instructor for Santa Clara Unified School District, “but you tie it into something they enjoy or see on TV and all of a sudden kids sit up straighter in the classroom and almost forget they’re learning.”

SEP
28
2017

LIGHTS ON
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America's #HealthiestSchools: 3 ways to team up for Lights On Afterschool

By Guest Blogger

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The 2017 America’s #HealthiestSchools campaign is grounded in the shared belief that every child deserves a healthy school. Afterschool leaders are essential partners for healthy schools.

America After 3 PM tells us that 73 percent of families report that their child’s afterschool program is located in a public school building. That is some serious overlap! As afterschool programs across the country prepare to celebrate Lights On Afterschool, this is the perfect time for school and afterschool to collaborate.

 

SEP
20
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 20, 2017

By Luci Manning

Best Speaks in Support of After-School Programs (Branson Tri-Lakes News, Missouri)

Last Tuesday, Branson Mayor Karen Best spoke at a congressional briefing organized by the Afterschool Alliance in support of federal funding for afterschool programs. Best emphasized afterschool programming’s benefits for childhood development. “I firmly believe if you have a passion, it’s your duty and obligation to fight for that passion,” Best told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “As the mayor of Branson, it’s my obligation to fight for the kids in our community.” After the panel, Best had a chance to meet with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).

SHINE for Girls: Middle School Students Dance Their Way to Better Math Scores (Pensacola News Journal, Florida)

The SHINE for Girls program aims to inspire confidence and improve math scores for middle school girls by helping them learn through dance. The program is run by two Pensacola High School seniors and gives students the opportunity to partake in interactive lessons rather than working through books or worksheets. “The idea of our program is to make it so that girls are able to do math problems and to know that just because they don’t understand right now doesn’t mean they won’t be able to in the future,” Laura Hagy, 17-year-old executive director of the Florida chapter of SHINE, told the Pensacola News Journal. Students in the program have improved their test scores by an average of 50 points.

Kids Klub Climbs into Saddle with Mid-Plains Rodeo Team (North Platte Telegraph, Nebraska)

Students in the Kids Klub Rough Riders afterschool program are learning about horse care, behavior, anatomy, nutrition and safety through a partnership with Mid-Plains Community College, Dusty Trails LLC and the West Central Research and Extension Center. Last week, Kids Klub students met with the MPCC Rodeo Team for a hands-on rodeo lesson and dinner with the crew. “This was an impressive lineup of programming and a night they won’t forget,” Kids Klub executive director Carrie Lienemann told the North Platte Telegraph. Thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Education, students will participate in horseback riding lessons and other activities centered around animals and agriculture throughout the fall.

Students Turn Classroom Lessons into Musical Masterpieces (Bowling Green Daily News, Kentucky)

Adairville Elementary School assistant principal Jonathan Stovall is helping students learn classroom lessons through music in a unique summer and afterschool program. Stovall and local musicians work with students Wednesday evenings at NF Records to produce songs with original rhythms and lyrics on topics from the water cycle to the U.S. Constitution. “I wanted to build something that was engaging to kids and met kids where they’re at,” Stovall told the Bowling Green Daily News.

 

SEP
13
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 13, 2017

By Luci Manning

Yoga Is for Keikei Too (The Garden Island, Hawaii)

Children are increasing their strength, balance, coordination, endurance, flexibility and more in afterschool yoga programs throughout Hawaii. Instructors believe that the breathing techniques and challenging poses in yoga help students learn to control their emotions, calm themselves down and support one another. “Children learn how to feel and process their emotions while in challenging poses,” Kauai Power Yoga owner and director Jessica Stein told the Garden Island. “This becomes training for life off the mat as well.”

Federal Funding Cuts Could Slash After-School Activities from Rugby to Robotics (San Diego Union-Tribune, California)

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program would strip $8.8 million from schools in San Diego County and leave nearly 6,000 students without access to afterschool programs. “Our students have a safe place to continue their learning, to connect and network with their peers and also with the community, beyond our school day,” Escondido Unified High School District assistant superintendent April Moore told the San Diego Union-Tribune. Schools across the county are looking into alternative sources of funding in order to keep the programs running even if the budget cuts go through.

A Community Garden Full of Education (MyWabashValley, Indiana)

The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has partnered with Benjamin Franklin Elementary School to start an afterschool gardening program that will hopefully increase access to fresh foods for Terre Haute residents. Through the two-hour afterschool program, students will maintain a school garden and eventually bring home the produce they’ve grown to share with their families. “That sense of sharing is something that just can’t be replaced…” Dr. Mark Minster told MyWabashValley. “You can buy stuff at a grocery store that you can share with other people but when you have that sense of ownership and responsibility it makes a big difference.”

From Potatoes to Robotics, 4-H Aims to Meet Children Where Their Needs Are (Bangor Daily News, Maine)

In the past several years, 4-H has moved away from its agricultural roots to increasingly prioritize STEM education. In Maine, 4-H programs reach 28,000 children, with only 3,000 participating in the traditional dairy and steer clubs. Many of the rest are conducting scientific research with graduate students, learning about marine life, programming robots and participating in other engaging, hands-on STEM activities through summer and afterschool programs. “4-H has always been about teaching kids life skills,” Maine’s 4-H program administrator, Lisa Phelps, told the Bangor Daily News. “Now those skills are going to be valuable whether you’re learning how to take care of an animal, or whether you’re learning to build a robot.” 

SEP
8
2017

RESEARCH
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Evaluating afterschool: What my toddler taught me about evaluation

By Guest Blogger

By Allison Riley, PhD, MSW, Senior Vice President, Programming and Evaluation at Girls on the Run International. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the seventh installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at the firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, and sixth posts of the series.

My two-year-old daughter and I like to take walks together when I get home from work. Whether we are headed to see the neighbor’s chickens or visit a friend, we always have some goal in mind when we walk out of the door, though my toddler typically doesn’t take the most direct path. Even if I try to rush her along so we can more quickly reach our destination, she is sure to pause when a good learning opportunity comes her way. When I follow my daughter’s lead, our walks are purposeful yet flexible, and I always learn more, too.

As it turns out, my daughter’s approach to a walk translates well to my workday world. As someone who’s spent my career evaluating youth programming, I have learned the importance of having a clear purpose and goals for a project while being flexible and responsive to information gathered during the evaluation process. Let’s look at a recent Girls on the Run study as an example.

SEP
6
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 6, 2017

By Luci Manning

Bluffs Summer School Collaboration Proves a ‘Match Made in Heaven’ (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

Thanks to a record number of community partners, funding from multiple grants and new creative programming, the Council Bluffs Community School District reached more than 1,000 students through its summer school program this year. According to the Daily Nonpareil, the district joined with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program and the Iowa Reading Research Center to assemble a well-rounded program for students of all ages. Through the program, youths had a chance to interact with local businesses, program robots, and visit the zoo to learn about biology.

Mayor Curry Tours After-School Program at Pinedale Elementary (WJXT, Florida)

After committing a total of $13 million of extra funding to afterschool programs several weeks ago, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took a trip to Pinedale Elementary School last week to see one of the programs in action. Mayor Curry had a chance to speak to several educators who conveyed how important afterschool is for their students. “The students actually receive an extension of the school day in those skills that they are primarily showing some areas of weakness, or concern, so the academic hour is based on their needs,” Pinedale Elementary School Principal Alicia Hinson told WJXT. The extra funding will give more than 8,000 Jacksonville students access to afterschool programs.

Making Afterschool Programs Work (Jackson Free Press, Mississippi)

Afterschool Ambassador Amber May was interviewed by the Jackson Free Press about her afterschool and summer program at Operation Shoestring and how it benefits Jackson’s youths. “It's about making sure the children are safe, first off,” she said. “It's about helping working families (so) they're able to work with the peace of mind of knowing that child is not only safe but that the child is getting the assistance they need on their homework assignments, they're getting any other type of academic help they need, a nutritious snack. And then also it's about inspiring children to learn.” The nonprofit works with pre-kindergarten and elementary school students on a variety of academic subjects, with a special emphasis on literacy.

An After School Program That Offers Structure, Down Time and Karate (Bangor Daily News, Maine)

Stacy Kim’s Kuma Fitness and Leadership program gives students a place to unwind after school, work on homework and get active. Each day at the program, youths enjoy a healthy snack, do some work, draw or participate in other quiet activities, then spend half an hour practicing karate or partaking in another fitness class. The karate classes teach students confidence, discipline and respect, according to Kim. “I truly feel like [Stacy’s] focus is on building better little people who will grow into better adults versus just teaching karate,” parent Anne Thurlow told the Bangor Daily News

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AUG
25
2017

LIGHTS ON
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What's happening for Lights On 2017?

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is less than eight weeks away and lots of programs have started planning their events! From marches and rallies to scavenger hunts and STEM lessons, the possibilities for a successful event are endless.

Looking for inspiration for your event? Check out the revamped Event Ideas & Activities page, where you can search by theme, activities, planning time, difficulty, partnerships, state, and audiences to find the pitch-perfect idea for your program.

For 2017, here’s what programs around the country are planning:

AUG
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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New resource: “STEM and Wellness: A Powerful Equation for Equity”

By Julie Keller

Would you rather have the students in your program learn to code or be able to run a 5K?

That question focuses on one of the main issues that face afterschool programs every day: how do we give our kids more, with less? Everyone wants healthy, active kids who are also receiving important academic enrichment they may not find in the school day. With STEM and wellness both on the rise in popularity and importance while funding and resources are slashed, how are out-of-school time (OST) providers to prioritize one or the other?

The National Afterschool Association (NAA), Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Afterschool Alliance, and National Girls Collaborative Project (NCGP) have collaborated to come up with a solution. “Imagine the potential of empowering the 10.2 million children in afterschool programs with science, technology, engineering, and math skills, while providing them with opportunities to eat healthy and stay active,” reads the first sentence of “STEM and Wellness: A Powerful Equation for Equity.”