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MAR
12

POLICY
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New afterschool report released at Congressional staff briefing

By Erik Peterson

New data, an update on the out-of-school time Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, compelling afterschool program profiles and a nutritious lunch were all highlighted in a briefing for Congressional staff on March 10 on Capitol Hill. The event served as the official release of the new America After 3PM report on afterschool programs’ efforts to keep students healthy and active, entitled "Kids on the Move: Afterschool Programs Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) kicked off the briefing with a passionate reminder about why afterschool programs are so critical to the success of young people, providing a brief history of how the federal government has helped build capacity for local afterschool programs and has spawned public private partnerships that have supported millions of young people over the past 20 years.

Moderated by Afterschool Alliance Board Treasurer Barry Ford, the panel provided an in-depth look at the wellness activities occurring in afterschool programs.

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learn more about: Congress Events and Briefings Health and Wellness Nutrition
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MAR
11

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup : March 11, 2015

By Luci Manning

After School Programs Promoting Healthy Lifestyles For Kids (WNEW, District of Columbia)

After school activities are beginning to emerge as an effective weapon in the battle against childhood obesity, according to a new survey conducted for the Afterschool Alliance.  Afterschool Alliance executive director Jodi Grant told WNEW’s Chuck Carroll that 95 percent of parents surveyed in D.C. said their child’s after school program involves some sort of physical activity.  The percentage was lower in Virginia and Maryland, with 87 percent and 77 percent of parents saying the same, respectively.  Despite these statistics, only about one out of five students is actually involved in an after school program.  The obesity rate among children continues to skyrocket, with one out of every three kids considered obese, but the survey suggests a simple solution could help curb that epidemic – after school programs.

Fitness Progress Tied to Nebraska After School Programs (WOWT, Nebraska)

A new household survey indicates that afterschool programs are an effective tool in the effort to prevent childhood obesity in Nebraska and nationwide.  The survey was conducted by Shugoll Research for the Afterschool Alliance.  A special report was included in the survey titled "Kids on the Move: Afterschool Programs Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity."  In the survey, most Nebraska parents (73 percent in Nebraska and 72 percent nationally) report that their child’s afterschool program provides children with beverages, snacks and/or meals, and 88 percent in Nebraska are satisfied that the food served is healthy.

Study Finds Afterschool Programs Help Promote Healthy Eating (Motherhood Through My Eyes, Florida)

Going back to my grammar school days, I recall staying in afterschool programs with one of my brothers because our school days ended at 2:30 pm and our mom worked across the street until 4:30, sometimes 5.  Aside from the obvious getting homework done, we had time to socialize and communicate with classmates.  Our parents would either pack us some snacks or we would save one or two from lunchtime.  One thing is for sure, whoever was watching us always made sure we kept busy and ate something.  Afterschool programs are still around today and, according to a special report from Afterschool Alliance, parents have expectations for these programs.  More than 70% of Florida parents said their child’s afterschool program provides beverages, snacks, and/or meals for the children in the programs.  In addition, 78% of them are satisfied that the food being served is healthy.

Healthy Habits: Afterschool Programs (Motherhood Moment, Minnesota)

Evidence is mounting that afterschool programs are an effective tool in the effort to prevent childhood obesity in Minnesota and nationwide, according to a household survey conducted by Shugoll Research for the Afterschool Alliance.  In the survey, most Minnesota parents (79 percent in Minnesota and 72 percent nationally) report that their child’s afterschool program provides children with beverages, snacks and/or meals, and 82 percent in Minnesota are satisfied that the food served is healthy.  Similarly, a strong majority of parents (82 percent) agree that afterschool programs should offer opportunities for physical activity, and 91 percent of Minnesota parents with a child in an afterschool program report that the program does just that.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Nutrition
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MAR
10

RESEARCH
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New report: Afterschool is a vital weapon in the battle against childhood obesity

By Jodi Grant

Afterschool programs have a critical role to play in building a strong future for our country by ensuring bright futures for our kids—and that includes fighting the nation’s ongoing battle against childhood obesity

We’ve known for a long time that afterschool, before-school, and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working parents.  Kids on the Move: Afterschool Programs Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, our new special report in the America After 3PM research series, reveals that they also do a tremendous amount to help keep kids healthy, now and for the future.  

Parents’ views about the role of afterschool programs in improving kids’ health and physical fitness are overwhelmingly positive:

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learn more about: America After 3PM Health and Wellness Nutrition
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MAR
6

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool advocates continue calling on Congress to save 21st CCLC

By Rachel Clark

With the Afterschool for All Challenge fast approaching and the future of ESEA reauthorization uncertain in the House, advocates have continued sending a strong message to Congress that children and working families can't afford to lose 21st CCLC.  125 supporters have signed on to our Thunderclap campaign, building a social reach of nearly 140,000.  To join this unified effort that will blast out across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr at 1 p.m. EST on the day of the Challengesign up now and tag your representatives in your post—and be sure to ask your friends and networks to join you.

We've also made progress toward our goal of sending 10,600 emails to Congress on behalf of the 1.6 million kids at risk of losing programs if 21st CCLC goes extinct—more than 3,200 emails have reached policy makers across the country, and in many states, hundreds of emails have been sent.  But in this critical time in Congress, it's key that advocates continue to flood policy makers' inboxes.

This week in the spotlight for going above and beyond in support of afterschool programs: On Tuesday, more than 400 advocates will share their stories with Members of Congress face-to-face on Capitol Hill.  It's crucial for Members to hear from the experts in their districts with firsthand knowledge of afterschool's local impact, and participants in the Afterschool for All Challenge will deliver that message.  If you can't be in DC, you can still take part using the tools in our revamped social media kit.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA
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MAR
6

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate the fourth annual Digital Learning Day on March 13th!

By Dan Gilbert

The fourth annual Digital Learning Day is coming up next Friday, March 13th!  Digital Learning Day is a showcase of the most innovative educators, programs, and schools across the country and a celebration of the innovative ways that educators have used technology to improve instruction.  Our friends at the Alliance for Excellent Education, which hosts Digital Learning Day, believe that high-quality digital learning opportunities should be available to all youth every single day.

While news outlets may tend to focus on district-level efforts, OST programs around the country have been developing, finessing and perfecting innovative digital learning strategies for years.  There is no better time than Digital Learning Day to celebrate the successful practices that need to be shared and scaled to reach more students, especially those with the greatest need.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Events and Briefings
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MAR
6

STEM
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Take the STAR_Net STEM Professionals Survey!

By Dan Gilbert

Do you do STEM activities in your programs?  And have you participated in a Community of Practice or other professional learning group?  The STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) is revamping their Community of Practice for librarians interested in STEM activities and STEM education professionals, and wants your feedback!

Take the survey now!  It should only take about seven to ten minutes to complete and will help to determine what works and what doesn’t work in a Community of Practice.

The NSF-funded STAR Library Education Network (Science-Technology Activities and Resources) is the product of collaboration between the Afterschool Alliance, the Space Science Institute’s (SSI) National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI).  In addition to the Community of Practice, the STAR_Net project provides museum-quality exhibits to public libraries.  If you’d like your local library to host an exhibit, see how you can get involved here.

For more information, visit www.STARnetLibraries.org or www.community.STARnetlibraries.org.

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learn more about: Science
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MAR
5

POLICY
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Guest blog: Former Secretary of Education emphasizes importance of afterschool in education reform

By Rachel Clark

Cathy Stevens is the Program Director for the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship at the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Dick Riley told an audience of decision-makers charged with undoing decades of educational inequities in South Carolina that afterschool and expanded learning are a key part of the comprehensive, “collective impact,” education reform needed for rural and poor school districts.

In late 2014, after a 21-year lawsuit, Abbeville v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state is failing to provide its students with an minimally adequate education as required by the state’s constitution. To say this was a long time coming is putting it mildly. In response to this lawsuit, a new 17-member legislative task force began meeting in February to develop plans for revamping the school system, especially for the 33 largely poor and rural plaintiff school districts. Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina native, Richard W. Riley, opened the task force’s first meeting on February 23rd with commentary that emphasized the value of afterschool and expanded learning as part of the broader legislative response.

“Engaging, hands-on academic enrichment opportunities are needed in each elementary and middle school to help struggling students. Such opportunities also should leverage the inspiration of master teachers and the community spirit of mentors and tutors from youth, arts, culture, faith-based, science, community and business organizations,” he emphasized.

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learn more about: Education Reform Guest Blog State Policy
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MAR
4

POLICY
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Bipartisan Summer Meals Act introduced in Senate to help close hunger gap

By Erik Peterson

Child nutrition program reauthorization efforts have taken a strong step forward with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introducing the bipartisan  Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613). The legislation would significantly improve the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs so more children can access healthy meals in supportive summer learning and afterschool programs. The bill would also simplify the administration of the program for sponsors.

The bill proposes the following improvements:

  • Improve the area eligibility test to allow community-based organizations to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Currently, a summer meal site must meet a 50 percent threshold which keeps many communities from participating. This change would make summer meals eligibility consistent with 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative guidelines. Maps have been developed for each state to show how many more areas would be served under this proposed change.
  • Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round—afterschool and in the summer—through a single Summer Food Service Program process. This would remove duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
  • Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to participation, especially in rural areas.
  • Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and run all day and for extended hours, but are only able to serve a maximum of two meals with federal funds.

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program over the summer period, provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. They provide children the nutritious meals they need to keep hunger at bay and remain healthy throughout the summer. They also support summer learning programs and help draw children into educational, enrichment, and recreational activities that keep them learning, engaged, active, and safe during school vacation.

A companion bill is expected to be re-introduced shortly in the House. The Afterschool Alliance has joined dozens of other groups in support of the legislation. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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