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DEC
7
2017

STEM
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Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

By Charlotte Steinecke

Keshia Ashe and a student at Tubman Elementary

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented communities in the STEM field.

In 2011, Keshia Ashe didn’t know she was starting a business. She just knew she saw a problem.

A graduate student at the time, Ashe was mentoring a group of tenth graders, many of whom were interested in pursuing medical school once they graduated. She reached out to friends in the field but kept hearing a familiar story.

“A lot of my friends said, ‘I can’t come, I’m busy, I don’t have the time to drive an hour to interface with the students,’” Ashe recalls. “At the time, Skype was really starting to gain some traction and not have so many technical difficulties, so my friends would Skype into the classroom to talk to the students. That’s really the nucleation site of ManyMentors. It was me trying to solve a problem with the students I was working directly with.”

ManyMentors is an organization that connects younger people to older people in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, using a hybrid strategy that combines face-to-face monthly mentoring meetings coordinated by onsite chapters with a mobile app that promotes sustained communication between mentors and mentees. In addition to more than 400 onsite mentors at six universities in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York, ManyMentors is opening a cohort of chapters in the D.C. region, with students from University of Maryland, Howard University, George Washington, George Mason University, and more.

DEC
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Los Angeles afterschool program builds 'a world fit for kids!'

By Matt Freeman

25 years ago, riots exploded in South Central Los Angeles in the wake of the acquittal of four police officers charged with beating a prostrate taxi driver named Rodney King. The event called attention to issues of race and economic inequities, one element of which was cutbacks in the L.A. school system that had resulted in the elimination of physical education and other programs.

From the ashes of the riot grew an innovative afterschool program called A World Fit for Kids! (WFIT), whose leaders were determined to give inner-city youth opportunities for physical fitness, wellness and self-esteem programming that had been lost to budget cuts. In the 25 years since, the program has touched the lives of more than 460,000 children and family members in the city, encouraging them to make healthy decisions over the course of their lives. Along the way, it has pioneered a research-based training model called Mentors in MotionSM that prepares high school “Coach-Mentors” to work with elementary and middle school children, helping both age groups achieve health and fitness goals and develop strategies for success in all aspects of their lives.

“We believe physical activity is a vital tool for personal growth,” says Normandie Nigh, the program’s CEO. “Traditional programs usually emphasize competitive sports and stand-alone recreational activities. But we take a more comprehensive approach, training our staff and Coach-Mentors to address the whole child by linking healthy bodies with healthy minds. We train them to help students increase their self-awareness, improve their capacity to self-manage, and take greater responsibility for the decisions they make.”

NOV
22
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 22, 2017

By Luci Manning

Program Helps Students Deal with Trauma, Stress at Home (Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada)

Nonprofit Healing Hearts’ afterschool program has made a big difference helping youths work through their stress, anger, anxiety and depression. The Teens in Action program addresses trauma and students’ emotional and mental issues by giving them an outlet for their frustration through fun activities, one-on-one counseling and group discussions. “A lot of them are broken, they don’t feel like they’re being listened to,” school counselor Annetta Bonner told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “They don’t feel like they’re loved; they don’t feel like anybody cares about them; they feel like they’re all alone. So we want to heal their hearts; we want to make them whole again.”

Big League Players Pitch in to Renovate Fields, Mentor Youth (Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Hawaii)

Three Major League Baseball players are getting their hands dirty to help children stay active by renovating the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s youth baseball fields. Through the nonprofit More Than A Game, which encourages professional athletes to pursue community service, the players have cleared out the overgrowth on the fields and will soon get to work repairing fences and replacing worn-out turf. “A lot of kids don’t have access to these opportunities,” Boston Red Sox infielder Mike Miller told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “It’s good to let them know there’s people out there rooting for them. I’ve seen kids take off with just a little bit of love.”

Marble Falls ACE Program Helps Students Become Better English Speakers through Writing (River Cities Daily Tribune, Texas)

Spanish-speaking students in the Marble Falls ACE afterschool program are not only learning to speak English, but also will soon write and publish their own books in their second language. ACE uses the Write Brain program to help students get a start writing their books by providing them with pre-illustrated pages on which to base their story. First, they will write a Spanish book as a team, then next semester they’ll work on their own English stories, getting a hang of the nuances of the language and building their confidence. “Seeing their name on the book, being an author, that’s going to mean a lot to them,” site coordinator Amanda Fulton told the River Cities Daily Tribune.

Students Explore Arts, Careers and Recreation with In Real Life (Mountain Xpress, North Carolina)

After a 2007 listening tour about how to address Asheville’s juvenile crime epidemic, the nonprofit Asheville City Schools Foundation developed Lights On After School: In Real Life (IRL) to give youths a safe, enriching place to spend their time once classes let out, according to Mountain Xpress. Students in the program can engage in dozens of activities like Latin dance, pottery, physical fitness and engineering, allowing them to explore their existing passions and discover new ones. The program serves 250 students at Asheville Middle School and is a result of a partnership with area businesses, nonprofits and volunteers. 

OCT
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

By Guest Blogger

By Sarah McKinney, Content Marketing Producer at Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign.

 

Diana Amatucci volunteers after school and during the summers at her local Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville Virginia. A retired teacher, Amatucci knows that kids need more champions in their lives.

“For students who may not get support at home or who may struggle in the larger school setting, getting this one-to-one attention is invaluable,” she says. 

Millions of other adults over 50 have the skills, experience, and desire to influence young lives, transform communities, and strengthen the social fabric of America. 

How are you engaging people 50+ in your afterschool program? 

Encore.org — an innovation tank tapping the talent of the 50+ population as a force for good — launched the Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign to help. Gen2Gen’s goal: to mobilize one million people over 50 to help kids thrive.

So far, 110 organizations have joined with Gen2Gen — including the Afterschool Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National 4-H Council, VolunteerMatch and more.

OCT
11
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: October 11, 2017

By Luci Manning

Why Students Flip for Milton High’s Cirque-Inspired Classes (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia)

A unique elective at Milton High School is teaching students acrobatics and choreography based on the famous Cirque de Soleil circus performances after school. “My parents made me try out,” student Cole Dobbs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “At first, I was like, no way am I going to dance around on stage in silly costumes. But then I joined (the Cirque club) and I have loved it. It is extremely physically demanding and it’s my favorite part of the day.” The program is run by Larry Smith, a cirque and theatre teacher at Milton High School, whose goal for students is to work as a team while being creatively and physically challenged.

Afterschool Program Offers Assistance to Children of Farm Workers (Chico Enterprise-Record, California)

The MiCasa afterschool tutoring program boosts the academic abilities and confidence of children in the Farm Labor Housing Development who may have trouble with their English language skills. The program has seen a lot of success: MiCASA students typically score up to 20 points higher than other English learners and are in the top 10 percent of their class. “We are very proud of the children coming out of that camp because this is what America is all about; opportunity and creating constructive members of society who can communicate well and comport themselves well and contribute to society,” Butte County Housing Authority Director Ed Mayer told the Chico Enterprise-Record. The program was honored with the Agency Champion award from United Way of Northern California last month for its success.

Arkansan Who is Part Owner of Washington Nationals Uses Sport to Help Children (Arkansas Online, Arkansas)

The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy promotes sports-based skills that helps youth overcome poverty, improve their academics and more. “The objective is to really teach them life lessons through baseball,” Washington Nationals founding partner and Chairman of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy board of directors Rodney Slater told Arkansas Online. “We call them scholar-athletes because the emphasis is on scholarship. ... We also seek to positively impact their families as well.” Approximately 15,000 participants have been drawn to the thousands of events hosted since the Academy’s opening.

From Recycling to Stacking Books, Elementary School Students Lend Their 'Helping Hands' (Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee)

Helping Hands is a new afterschool program at Kid’s Place Sequoyah that teaches students about community and citizenship. Kindergarteners through fifth graders take part in community service activities like helping teachers at school and sorting through recyclables, showing students that it’s important to give back and serve others. Students “understand that regardless of your background, you might need some help one day… and that helping others is a part of life,” Kid’s Place at Sequoyah Director Dana Gamby told the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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SEP
27
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 27, 2017

By Luci Manning

Georgia Students Learn Pre-Engineering as They Revamp Shipping Containers for Haiti (Youth Today, Georgia)

Marietta High School students in the school’s civil engineering club and afterschool design class are designing a community center out of shipping containers to help communities in Haiti. The designs will include features like solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and a waste recycling system. Teacher Leon Grant and local architects will work with students to build the structures, while also teaching basic engineering principles. “I want a creative environment where young people can utilize [the math and science] they learn,” Grant told Youth Today. While the designs will be sent along to Haiti, the structure will remain at the school as an innovation laboratory for future students.

Green Bay's Boys & Girls Club to Open College and Career Center (WFRV, Wisconsin)

Last Friday, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay opened their new College and Career Center for Teens to give young people a safe space to learn and explore future job opportunities. "Teens get a bad reputation, but they are up against some horrific odds. So, we knew a space needed to be made just for them where they can feel heard, motivated, encouraged, and like someone believes in them,” Club Director of Communications Stephanie Nespoli told WFRV. The center will offer internship and job placement services; provide free tutoring, job training, workforce etiquette lessons and academic mentoring; and give students the chance to listen to guest speakers, go on college visits and shadow adults in various industries.

Death of A’yanna Allen Sparks Local Girls to Create a Program to Help Youths Learn Life Skills (Salisbury Post, North Carolina)

A new afterschool program started by three nine-year-old girls aims to solve violence and improve life skills for children in the Salisbury community. A Bridge 4 Kids was started by three elementary school students in response to the death of their seven-year-old cousin, A’yanna Allen. “We are trying to get kids out of the streets. We don’t want them to be a follower but be a leader,” co-founder Invy Robinson told the Salisbury Post. The program includes three stages with unique goals and programming geared towards different age groups. “We want them to be able to get a job instead of fight,” co-founder India Robinson said.

Kids Learn to Grow Together (Great Falls Tribune, Montana)

An afterschool and summer gardening program is hoping to increase access to fresh foods for Westside Community residents and promote healthy eating habits among youths. Students in the Sunburst Unlimited gardening program maintain a community garden, learn about gardening techniques like composting and bring home the produce they’ve grown to share with their families. “Watching them brush off the dirt, take a bite and then to see their eyes light up – they like vegetables,” Sunburst Unlimited Director Mike Dalton told the Great Falls Tribune. “That’s what makes my heart smile. To see their joy exploring out in the garden every day.”

SEP
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Michigan Engineering Zone

By Marco Ornelas

As the home of the American auto industry and birthplace of Motown, Detroit has always been a hub for American ingenuity and creativity. But in 2013, Detroit became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy after decades of economic. The city officially exited bankruptcy in 2014 following a debt restructuring plan, but many feel that the work to get the city back on track has just begun.

Still, the transformation that’s begun in the heart of downtown Detroit, which city leaders and residents are working to channel into the outer neighborhoods, signals hope. The residents of Detroit have worked hard to fight widespread economic hardships and earned their home the nickname “Renaissance City.”

What is catalyzing the economic revival of this city? Efforts like the University of Michigan’s Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) are definitely a helping hand in restarting the economic engine.

SEP
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Standing up for immigrant kids

By Guest Blogger

By Sil Ganzó, executive director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, ourBRIDGE for KIDS is an afterschool program focused on helping newly-arrived and first-generation American children achieve academic success and integration into the community through innovative instructional methods and a celebration of cultural diversity. Our students represent more than 20 cultures from Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.

In my role as executive director, I often have the opportunity to present our work to representatives of various corporations and foundations and meet potential advocates, volunteers, and donors who will further our mission of creating a community that embraces refugees and immigrants. The questions, feedback, and constant surge of ideas improves our program and makes my job truly exciting, and I love it. I like to think of myself as a fearless, outspoken advocate, but recently this notion was put up to the test.