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NOV
17
2016

POLICY
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Congress begins lame duck session to address spending bills and more

By Erik Peterson

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This week Congress resumed its 114th session a week after the Congressional and Presidential election. The so-called ‘lame duck’ session is expected to last through mid-December with a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. The exact agenda for the session is still somewhat unclear but a number of activities are expected to be addressed.

The top priority is ensuring the federal government remains funded after the current FY2017 continuing resolution expires on December 9, 2016. While previously it appeared Congress would pass an omnibus spending bill or mini-bus spending bills, it now looks like Congress will pass a second short-term continuing resolution instead, funding the government through March of 2017.

House Republicans pushed the decision not enact full-year funding bills but to instead pass another continuing resolution (CR) through the end of March – half-way through the 2017 fiscal year.  President-elect Trump is reported to have favored this approach, which will let the Republican Congress and President finalize the remaining 11 appropriations bills, including the bill funding education programs. Senate Democrats and President Obama have reportedly signaled that they would accept a new CR if it was “clean” of policy riders. This second CR could include more changes in funding for specific programs (known as anomalies) and a different across-the-board cut to keep total funding under the defense and non-defense caps.  The final Labor-HHS-Education bill funding the second half of the year may look similar or very different from the ones approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees earlier this year. 

What does this mean for afterschool?

Funding for afterschool programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would be subject to the across the board funding cut in the new CR. Funding levels for these programs in the final spending bill in March when Congress takes up spending again will be uncertain. 

Additional legislation relevant to afterschool programs that could be considered during the lame duck include reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. All three of these have bipartisan versions alive in the Senate or House but would need additional work and time to advance to the President’s desk. Currently it appears none of these measures have the momentum needed to pass.  

Also during first week of the lame duck session, newly elected members of Congress participated in new member orientation, and House and Senate leadership for the 115th Congress was elected. Some committee assignments and leadership posts have begun to be posted as well. Among the changes so far, the new Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Committee will be Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) replacing retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).  Sen. Patty Murray (D0WA) will continue as both Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member and LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member. 

You can make an impact by introducing yourself to officials who have just been elected in your community. Use the sample letter available in our election kit to begin cultivating these lawmakers as allies for your afterschool program and plant the seeds of a valuable partnership.

NOV
16
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 16, 2016

By Luci Manning

Science Keeps Jr. High Students After School (Chico Enterprise-Record, California)

Students in the Bidwell Junior High School BLAST afterschool program don’t need encouragement to learn – they eagerly dive into the program’s hands-on science projects. Students from Chico State University lead experiments and teach the middle schoolers about topics ranging from hydrophobic molecules to how batteries work. Working with college students also exposes the children to the value of higher education, coordinator Stephanie Johnson said. “Hopefully it will give the kids another look at what hard work and dedication to education can get them,” she told the Chico Enterprise-Record.

‘Subway Sleuths’ Help the Autistic Learn, Grow (Daily News, New York)

An afterschool program for autistic children who love trains recently received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama to recognize its positive impact on students in Brooklyn. The Transit Museum’s Subway Sleuths program offers a chance for children to build train sets, make transit-themed art, go on museum scavenger hunts and build social skills as they share their love of trains with their peers. Parent Maria Farley said the program has helped her son Alastair learn to express himself. “He’s comfortable with speaking to me and speaking to other people about his interests and being able to express himself without any fear, without any reservations… it’s empowering,” she told the Daily News.

Through Art, Drama and Science, D.C. Schools Aim to Help Black and Latino Boys (Washington Post, District of Columbia)

Sixteen D.C. schools received grant money earlier this year to develop programs that will contribute to the academic and social success of young males of color in D.C. Public Schools. The Empowering Males of Color initiative supports afterschool programs that focus on science, art and more. “Our schools are excited about the activities and the supports that they have for our young men of color,” interim chancellor John Davis told the Washington Post. “It has generated an excitement and given them the support to be innovative.” The schools hope to give students skills that can lead them toward realistic and positive careers and help them to develop their social-emotional abilities.

A Denver Native Brings the Vast Outdoors to at-Risk Youths (Christian Science Monitor)

Denver nonprofit cityWILD is enabling low-income and marginalized students to enjoy outdoor opportunities in Colorado’s vast wilderness through a free afterschool program. Low-income students often don’t have access to outdoor activities, so the group organizes overnight and day trips where students can raft, backpack, mountain-bike, hike, snowshoe and explore nature in a safe, supportive environment. The program also offers academic assistance, leadership development and general support to the community. Executive director Jes Ward said the positive effect on students is clear. “[I] see the transformation in young people when they do have access to the outdoors and nature: It is incredible,” she told the Christian Science Monitor. “They are not the same young people that walk in the doors the first time.” 

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learn more about: Science Arts
NOV
15
2016

POLICY
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Guest blog: How the election played out at the state level

By Robert Abare

Written by Ashley Wallace, Program Manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures

The Minnesota State Capitol. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In the past week since Election Day, the top of the ticket has certainly garnered a lot of attention and discussion. However, state legislative races and state ballot initiatives also made their mark, as voters in 35 states decided 154 statewide ballot measures and chose from among more than 10,000 candidates seeking state legislative seats.

Republicans will control 66 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers. Democrats will control 30 chambers and one chamber will be tied. The New York Senate is still undecided. This means Republicans will control both chambers in 32 states, which is an all-time high for the party. Democrats will control both chambers in 13 states and three states will split control or be tied. Overall, turnover in the state legislatures this election was about 25 percent, which is about average.

Here are the chambers that changed hands

Three chambers switched from Democratic to Republican control:

  • Kentucky House
  • Iowa Senate
  • Minnesota Senate

Four chambers switched from Republican to Democratic control:

  • New Mexico House
  • Nevada Assembly
  • Nevada Senate
  • Washington Senate (Republicans, however, will have functional control as one Democrat will caucus with the Republicans.)

And one chamber, the Connecticut Senate, will be tied.

There are also a few chambers across the country who have a more complicated future. The Alaska House will be governed by a coalition that gives Democrats functional control of the chamber, despite Republicans leading the chamber numerically. And Democrats now control every seat in the Hawaii Senate, the first time one party has completely controlled a chamber since 1980. However, the big takeaway of the legislative races is that Republicans exceeded expectations in a year when many expected Democrats to net seats and chambers.

Republicans entered the elections having 31 governors and managed to pick up three by winning in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. This will mean the most Republican Governors since 1998. Republican pickups in governor’s races means fewer states under split control. Republicans will have full control of state government in 24 states, Democrats will have full control in six and only 17 states will split control.

The outlook on education and afterschool

There are a few education-related approved ballot initiatives that may be of note to the afterschool field. Oregon passed Measure 98, requiring the legislature to fund dropout prevention and career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools, and Measure 99, creating a fund to provide outdoor school programs statewide through the Oregon Lottery Economic Development. Meanwhile, Mainers approved a new 3 percent income tax for incomes of more than $200,000, with revenues going to K-12 education.

Finally, those in the afterschool field may recognize Nebraska’s newly elected state senator, Anna Wishart. Ms. Wishart is a former White-Riley-Peterson fellow.


For more state-focused election analysis, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures. To read more on how the 2016 election will affect education policy and afterschool, see the Afterschool Snack's breakdown of Donald Trump's record on education, and what to expect from his administration and the 115th Congress.

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learn more about: Election Guest Blog State Policy
NOV
11
2016

POLICY
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Looking toward a new year, administration and Congress

By Erik Peterson

The results of the 2016 presidential race, as of November 11, 2016. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

With the election behind us, many are asking what's next with regard to the next administration and Congress. While it's too soon to answer all the questions, it is a good time to think through timelines and strategies for working with the transition team for the new administration as well as the new 115th Congress.

President-elect Donald Trump's transition transition team has been quietly working in Washington for the past several months (as had Hillary Clinton's transition team), reviewing potential cabinet position nominees and developing plans for the first 100 days of Trump's presidency. While some potential cabinet members have been discussed in the media, there has been little speculation about a possible Secretary of Education, though former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has been floated as a possibility. President-elect Trump has also suggested that he might pick someone from business for the post. Williamson M. Evers and Gerard Robinson are on the Trump transition team, and have been developing possible education policy positions. Evers is a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, and Robinson, who was Florida’s commissioner of education for a year, is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Robinson also served as principal investigator on the 2007 Mott-funded study “More than homework, a snack, and basketball: Afterschool Programs as an Oasis of Hope for Black Parents in Four Cities,” published by the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

The Afterschool Alliance submitted a memo to the Trump transition team calling for continued support of children and working parents through leveraging federal funds used by local school and community based-afterschool and summer learning programs. Additionally, the memo calls for the following:

  • Set a date and agenda for a White House summit on the role community programs, faith-based organizations and supports beyond the school day can have in keeping young people safe and secure from crime and preparing young people for jobs and careers.
  • Participate in the April 5, 2017 Ready to Work Summit to be hosted by the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute on the role of afterschool in preparing our students for the future, by sending an official representative.
  • Appoint a Secretary of Education that is a champion of school-community partnerships. A good leader understands the importance of partnerships, listens to the voices of young people and communities, and is aware of inequities that must be met head on to close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps. Our next Secretary of Education must focus on opportunities for every American student and lift up school-community partnerships such as those employed in afterschool programs and community schools as vehicles to do so.

During the campaign for the presidency, President-elect Trump put forth federal policy proposals that support afterschool programs for children, as part of his child care plan.

NOV
9
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 9, 2016

By Luci Manning

‘The Most Fired-up Kids’ (San Antonio Express-News, Texas)

Thanks to a donation from the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, some 500 students will learn how to play music on refurbished violins and cellos in the Winston Strings Program. The program teaches string instruments to students of all grade levels during and after school. While the orchestra in the past has lent instruments and sent in teaching assistants, this is the first time they have fully donated instruments to the program. “We’re not trying to make them into musicians; we’re trying to help students have a large sense of their own potential,” orchestra music director Troy Peters told the San Antonio Express-News.

Late Artist’s Foundation Gives Core Academy Students at West Prep a Place to Showcase Art in Las Vegas (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada)

An afterschool program is bringing art and creative opportunities to underprivileged students from fifth grade through college. Core Academy offers students afterschool enrichment opportunities and homework help, as well as support for basic needs like food, school supplies and health care, to help students find their way through high school and eventually make it to college or a successful career. “I knew from the students that I was working with that it was going to take a lot more than mentoring and tutoring to truly break the cycle of poverty,” chief inspiration officer Lindsay Harper told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Not every kid has the same opportunity in this community, and so we are here to inspire and empower.”

NASA to Help Local Kids with Projects (Great Falls Tribune, Montana)

Students from nine Montana schools will spend the next few months collaborating with NASA to design drag devices and pressurized containment suits as part of the Montana 21st Century Community Learning Center program. The engineering design challenge will give students in fifth through eighth grade the chance to employ their STEM skills in afterschool science clubs to build interstellar equipment to better protect astronauts and support space exploration. “These students will get a firsthand look at how science, technology, engineering and math can create real solutions for space exploration,” superintendent of public instruction Denise Juneau told the Great Falls Tribune. “Getting students excited about the STEM fields is how we’ll continue to be a worldwide leader in research and discovery.”

Kids Bring Garden Project to Life (Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico)

Fifteen children between the ages of four and 11 showcased their knowledge of road runners, scorpions, butterflies and more at the Kiwanis Learning Garden through “The Synergy of Animals and Plants” project. Students in the Family Stewardship Collaborative, an afterschool program through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, each selected an animal as their research subject. They then put together mosaics depicting the animal and a report describing how the animal interacts with plants, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The project, funded by a grant from the American Forest Foundation’s Project Learning Tree, will be on display at the garden indefinitely. 

NOV
9
2016

POLICY
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Donald Trump won. What's next for afterschool?

By Rachel Clark

Photo by Michael Vadon

After a marathon campaign, property developer and reality television personality Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States with 279 electoral votes to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 228—31 electoral votes are still up for grabs.

Despite dominating the headlines for the last 18 months, the race for the White House has devoted little attention to key domestic policy issues like K-12 education and child care, thus leaving many voters wondering what to expect under a Trump Administration.

We examined Trump’s proposals and public statements, as well as the Republican Party platform, to get a sense of what the afterschool community can expect from the next president.

The Republican platform

The Republican Party platform emphasizes “choice-based, parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling.” It promises to repeal the Common Core State Standards, and supports a constitutional amendment affirming parents’ rights to “direct their children’s education, care and upbringing.”

The platform prioritizes building a “choice-based” education system that gives families a range of educational options, including homeschooling, career and technical education, private and parochial schools, charter systems, online programs, and early college high schools. It also recognizes teachers’ role as partners in children’s education and the importance of supporting teachers while maintaining accountability, proposing merit pay structures to recognize effective teachers, as well as background checks for all personnel who interact with children.

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learn more about: Obama
NOV
7
2016

STEM
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New partnership will advance afterschool STEM policies

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The Afterschool Alliance is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Overdeck Family Foundation to advance afterschool STEM policy. We will be working with the statewide afterschool networks to achieve this goal, as many networks are already engaged in advancing afterschool STEM learning opportunities in their states. This new project will help us amplify our support to the state afterschool networks so they can advocate for a strong role for afterschool programs in their state’s ESSA implementation plans. 

The Overdeck partnership also allows us to support a smaller subset of statewide afterschool networks to deepen their work on advancing policies to support afterschool STEM programming via state level initiatives. We are thrilled to announce that we made awards to the following organizations for this initiative:

These six state networks demonstrated that the policy environment in their states is conducive for advancing afterschool STEM. We are partnering with the STEM Education Coalition, an influential national advocacy group for STEM education, to provide technical assistance to the statewide afterschool networks for this project. Through this collaboration, we will be providing regular STEM policy updates to the networks and working with them to provide tailored resources, such as the recent set of advocacy resources for afterschool/informal STEM. We will also broker partnerships between the Coalition’s members and state afterschool advocates, an often stated need of the networks. We are anticipating that these new partnerships will bring new influential STEM allies and voices into the afterschool conversation.

We are excited about this project and look forward to supporting the afterschool field with strong policies that will provide young people with greater access to high-quality afterschool STEM programming.

NOV
4
2016

LIGHTS ON
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This program used Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on health and wellness

By Robert Abare

For the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles (BGCELA), encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles goes hand-in-hand with the other areas of the organization’s mission: building students’ academic success and developing their character. For Lights On Afterschool 2016, BGCELA celebrated its achievements in keeping kids healthy by embracing a fun and unusual theme: bubbles.

BGCELA hosted a community 5K “Bubble Run” for Lights On Afterschool last month, providing a fun outlet for kids, their families, and local celebrities to get active while celebrating the importance of health and wellness education. Participants in the Bubble Run walked or jogged through mountains of bubbles at various checkpoints along the run, where local radio stations also filled the air with their music.

Happy memories lead to lifelong healthy habits

“It basically looked like a washing machine exploded,” said Anna Araujo, Executive Director of BGCELA and former Afterschool Ambassador. “We wanted to use this event to make healthy habits as fun and interactive for the kids as possible. That way, we give kids happy memories related to healthy activities, and those practices become lifelong habits.”

The event was emceed by Peter Daut, a local news anchor, and celebrity appearances were made by Luis Guzman of Code Black, Boxer Victor Ortiz, DJ Cece The Mamacita of KDAY, telenovela actor Adriana Fonseca, singer Miguelilto and actor Anthony “Citric” Campos of The George Lopez Show.

In keeping with the theme, kids also played “Bubble Soccer” at BGCELA’s Lights On Afterschool event, thanks to a local vendor. A local Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fitness program also led the event’s warm up activities, and various vendors offered samples of healthy foods and drinks (and water was provided at no cost).

Boxer Victor Ortiz races with singer Miguelito. Actor Luis Guzman signs a student's Bubble Run t-shirt.