Bright House Networks is celebrating the 15th annual rally for afterschool programs by giving hundreds of afterschool youth an afternoon of fun, hands-on STEM learning at their local science centers. Grants of $1,500-$3,000 have been awarded to afterschool programs in seven communities across the nation to give underserved youth the opportunity to get excited and engaged in STEM learning. Programs are targeting the funds to serve kids who might not normally be able to visit the science centers. The STEM experiences will take place in October, as part of Lights On Afterschool festivities.
During their visits to the science centers, students will learn about topics such as solar energy and renewable resources, the history of the oil industry, and astronomy. They will conduct experiments, build robots, learn about STEM career opportunities, and more.
Bright House views the experiences as an investment in the company’s future. Said Kimberly Maki, corporate vice president, corporate communications and public relations, “We hope that by providing afterschool students with opportunities to participate in hands-on activities that teach science and math, we can encourage more young people to consider careers in these crucial fields.”
By Luci Manning
Derrick Rose Gives $1 Million to Chicago Charity (Chicago Tribune, Illinois)
Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is donating $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago charity that arranges out-of-school apprenticeships for teens. “When Derrick looks at the kids we work really hard to serve, he sees himself or saw himself as one of those kids,” Vice Chairman of After School Matters Robbie Robinson explains to the Chicago Tribune. Rose grew up in the same area and told the Chicago Tribune, “To have a strong community of people who believe in your potential can make all the difference in the world. So many people have invested in me and I want to do the same for Chicago’s teens.”
Students Show Love for Cops on Police Appreciation Day (The Daily Home, Alabama)
Afterschool Students from First Baptist Church’s Child Development Center in Talladega adopted a new tradition: Police Officer Appreciation Day. The afterschool students created “survival kits” filled with candy and treats. Students explained the special significance of each candy on the outside of the bag and presented the kits to the police officers, The Daily Home reports.
Kids 4 Kompany to Hold Food Drive (Times-Herald, Georgia)
Kids 4 Kompany Learning Academy in Newnan is organizing a food drive this month. Children in the academy are working on all aspects of the food drive: collecting non-perishable food items, organizing the food, and helping deliver it to a local organization in need. Denita Barnett, creator of the food drive, tells the Times-Herald, “I want to instill in the children here to give to others.” Barnett says she plans on making the food drive an annual event from here on out.
NOLA Access Grant Puts Technology Help Within Reach of Central City Youth, Adults (The Times-Picayune, Louisiana)
Thanks to a $19,600 NOLA Access Media Grant, students in Central City will get a chance to learn and develop their computer skills in a high-tech environment. The afterschool program at the Israelite Baptist Church rapidly grew after the program was one of the few able to stay open after Hurricane Katrina. Afterschool Program Director Eureka Harris told The Times-Picayune that the program aims to not only help students with homework and improve digital literacy, but also “to expand their belief in what is possible in their lives.”
Pres. Obama was joined by Former Pres. Bill Clinton last Friday for a special AmeriCorps swearing-in ceremony on the White House lawn in celebration of the program’s 20th anniversary. Several thousand AmeriCorps volunteers were sworn into service at more than 80 ceremonies across the country.
The first class of AmeriCorps volunteers were sworn into service on Sept. 12, 1994. Since that day, more than 900,000 volunteers have worked with community organizations across the country, particularly those providing afterschool and summer learning programs. AmeriCorps currently engages more than 75,000 men and women at more than 15,000 locations including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country. During their year of service, AmeriCorps members help communities with a wide range of issues including disaster services, economic opportunity, education and healthy futures. AmeriCorps volunteers are a key part of the afterschool workforce. They provide essential staffing for many programs, where they mentor, teach skills such as computer programming, and coach sports. AmeriCorps members make it possible for afterschool programs to serve children and youth in many communities.
Does your afterschool program provide service-learning opportunities? Now through Nov. 4, middle- and high-school students who volunteer can apply for 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The program honors students in grades 5-12 who make meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service. Top honorees earn cash prizes and all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events.
Over the past 19 years, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to more than 100,000 middle and high school students across the country for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, and serving their communities through many other volunteer activities. Today, the search begins to identify thousands more who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the awards program kicks off its 20th year.
By Luci Manning
New Bowie Library Program Stops the “Shushing” (The Gazette, Maryland)
The new Teen Zone program at the Bowie Branch Library is allowing students to play board games, eat, listen to music, and even talk with friends above a whisper. The free program launched in August and gives teens a supervised place to meet up after school to do homework or relax every day between 2:30 and 6:00 p.m. The library’s new Youth Services Coordinator Joslyn Jones tells The Gazette that since Teen Zone launched, there has been a reduction in students loitering outside the library unsupervised. “This is a space for them to decompress… we want them to feel welcome,” she said.
UGA Team Begins After-school Enrichment Program at Two Clarke County Elementary Schools (UGA Today, Georgia)
A partnership between University of Georgia (UGA) faculty and the Clark County School District is giving elementary students a chance to participate in a new afterschool program aimed at improving health and stimulating learning in math and reading. The Physical Activity and Learning program is funded from a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. A decade of research showing that children’s increased physical activity can lead to higher academic gains went into creating the program’s curriculum. “It’s fun to watch children learn and grown, and it’s an important opportunity for our UGA students to learn to engage in and evaluate experimental practices as teachers,” Paula Schwanenflugel, a professor of educational psychology and part of the interdisciplinary community service project at UGA, told UGA Today. The program aims to be completely sustainable at the end of the five year grant.
UC Offering After-School STEAM Program (The Register-Herald, West Virginia)
Middle- and high-school students are being offered an afterschool program that incorporates science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts (STEAM) working with student mentors from the University of Charleston-Beckley campus. The Science Behind the Art Experience (SBAE) will engage students in integrated science lab activities, art-making sessions, writing and critical reflection. “For the southern West Virginia youth, SBAE will fulfill a need for supplemental art education and will contribute to the increase in science literacy,” Dr. Aida E. Jimenez Esquilin, assistant professor of biology, told The Register-Herald. The program is funded with a Beckley Area Foundation grant and also supported by funds from the Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
Soccer Teams to ‘Snack it Up’ With Veggies, Fruits (Associated Press, New Hampshire)
New Hampshire soccer coaches are receiving coupon booklets for discounted fruits and vegetables thanks to the new “Snack it Up” program designed to stress more healthful eating options. Eric Redder, technical director of New Hampshire Soccer Association, tells the Associated Press, “We are thrilled to participate in Snack It Up so that our coaches can help youth athletes fuel up on healthier snacks more affordably.” Snack it Up was created as an initiative of ChildObesity180 at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition to help coaches and afterschool program coordinators prepare better snacks through a supportive team of community partners.
Last night the House of Representatives passed S.1086–The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Amended Version. The bipartisan, bicameral bill represents a compromise of the legislation that passed the Senate in March by a vote of 96-2. Due to the changes in the House version, the Senate will need to pass the bill again before it can go the president’s desk to be signed into law. The Senate is expected to take action this month. This marks the first time in 18 years that comprehensive Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization legislation has passed both the House and Senate.
The bill that passed last night reflects a bipartisan agreement reached by Congressional leaders last week to reauthorize CCDBG after several months of negotiations by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa), as well as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care for children of low-income families aged birth to 13.
By Luci Manning
Commentary: The Importance of Afterschool Programming (The Palm Beach Post, Florida)
Mayors Karl Dean and Betsy Price are asking their fellow mayors, city council members and other community leaders to take action to make afterschool programs a priority. In The Palm Beach Post, Dean and Price write, “Participating in high-quality afterschool programs has been shown to promote positive behaviors such as school attendance, and may help boost academic achievement, civic engagement and self-confidence, while reducing such dangers as obesity and juvenile crime…we need more cities to get on board. We urge city leaders to bring together key stakeholders to talk about—and take action on—local afterschool needs. Mayors and city council members can lead key players to work together effectively. And we need cities, businesses and private funders to invest more in afterschool. Such an effort will change young lives, help families and strengthen neighborhoods.” Mayors Dean and Price are on the Afterschool Alliance Board of Directors and received funding from The Wallace Foundation to expand afterschool opportunities in Nashville, Tenn., and Ft. Worth, Texas.
Theresa Horton Aces Courtrooms and Kitchens (Greenville Online, South Carolina)
An afterschool program from Resurrection Power Ministries in Travelers Rest is teaching children, ages 6 to 10, how to be self-sufficient in the kitchen. In the program’s first year, students learned how to boil an egg, chop vegetables, and ultimately made a Nicoise salad at the end of term for their parents. Instructor Theresa Horton tells Greenville Online that she’s teaching the young kids about nutrition and cooking, one skill at a time. She said the afterschool program shows students “order and caring and discipline and that work is part of life.”
Flamingos in Payette (Independent Enterprise, Oregon)
Payette Primary School’s teachers have people flocking to donate to their cause. Educators are helping raise money to support the Payette Primary School 21st Century Community Leaning Center kindergarten program and fix the school playground by temporarily migrating a flock of flamingos to yards across Ontario. These quirky birds will roost in anyone’s yard for a day or two if a friend pays the school to place the birds there, the Independent Enterprise reports.
TPS Seeking to Expand Community Hubs (The Blade, Ohio)
Despite funding cuts, Toledo Public Schools and United Way of Greater Toledo are trying to continue expanding the successful “community hubs” they created three years ago. The community hubs coordinate afterschool programs, medical and dental health programs, and social services to address the whole scope of problems that can inhibit a child’s ability to learn. Last week leaders at United Way held a strategic planning session to develop a sustainable way to spread community hubs throughout Toledo. George Chapman, former chief executive of Health Care REIT Inc., has been pitching donations for the concept, saying this money would make a real difference and told The Blade, “Equal opportunity is what this country is about.”
By Luci Manning
“With school starting again, it’s a good time to remember the important role after-school programs play in helping students succeed,” Afterschool Ambassador and Vice President of Youth Development Services at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City Pam Watkins wrote in a letter to the editor in the Kansas City Star. She continued, “Quality after-school programs, such as the YMCA of Greater Kansas City Y Clubs, are a lifeline for working parents. They give our youth a chance to engage in hands-on, experimental learning in a safe and structured environment, exposing students to possible careers in the sciences or other fields, teaching them the value of community service and providing them with mentors, meals, physical activity and more… Many more students in the Kansas City area should have after-school programs available to them. We need lawmakers and others to fund after-school programs so all our children can have access to the support they need.”
Albany Crime Stoppers board members learned about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children and some tips for preventing trafficking at abuse. David McCleary, a representative of Rotary International, gave an overview of how young at-risk girls can fall prey to predatory adults. “McCleary said communities can help guard against the threat of human trafficking by providing mentors for the children, summer lunch programs, after school programs and homeless shelters,” the Albany Herald reports.
United Martial Arts Center (UMAC) in Ardsley is celebrating its first anniversary next month. In addition to the full course of Taekwondo training for all ages, UMAC Ardsley also offers an afterschool program with transportation for local elementary students. "We have a Martial Arts Reading Program, where the children are reading at home, and relating the books to Taekwondo values," master instructor Vinny Bellantoni told the Rivertowns Daily Voice. He continued, "Every 10 books that they read, they earn a ‘next level’ patch, eventually becoming a ‘black belt’ in the Martial Arts Reading Program. The reason has even more purpose than just to get children excited to read, it actually helps them start to understand how these values relate to their every day lives."