Nutritious meals provided to children during afterschool and summer learning programs have the dual effect of nourishing students while making them more apt to learn and benefit from enriching activities. And according to Baltimore’s Holabird Academy Principal Anthony Ruby, the shared meals also build a sense of community that helps foster student success. Legislation to strengthen out-of-school-time child nutrition programs could increase this positive impact on young people.
On Oct. 8, Mr. Ruby joined Crystal FitzSimmons of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Elena Rocha of the YMCA of the USA, and Terri Kerwawich of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department in addressing Congressional staff during a briefing on Capitol Hill focusing on feeding children year-round through the afterschool and summer meal programs.
A standing-room only crowd of policy makers, advocates and media heard about the vital role played by the At-Risk Afterschool Meals and the Summer Nutrition programs in providing nutritious food for hungry children when school is out of session:
With 12 days remaining in the current federal fiscal year, both chambers approved a continuing resolution (CR) late last week ensuring that the federal government will be funded and operational through Dec. 11. The stopgap measure is funded at $1 trillion, which is less than the Senate would like but more than the Budget Control Act actually allows. Once the bill expires in mid-December, Congress will have to decide whether to extend the CR a few more months until the next Congress gets organized, or to go ahead and fund federal operations for the remainder of the fiscal year. It's not too late to reach out to your representative and senators to encourage their support of afterschool programs.
Congress is now in recess until after the Nov. 4 election. The Senate has already announced its Nov. 12 return. When Congress returns it will resume as a lame duck session that could address a number of issues in addition to the CR. Many Members of Congress will be in their districts campaigning next month, which presents an excellent opportunity to invite incumbents and candidates to Lights On Afterschool celebrations as a way to raise awareness of the impact that afterschool and summer learning programs have on children, youth, their families and communities.
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.
Jim Jeffords: A founder of the movement to expand afterschool programs, a hero to children and families
By Jodi Grant
This post was originally published on Huffington Post's Education Blog. Read the original post and share your thoughts with the HuffPost community.
Before former Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont introduced the first legislation to provide federal funding for afterschool in 1994, the federal government played essentially no role in providing meaningful support and programming for young people in the hours after the school day ended and before parents arrived home from work. Sen. Jeffords, who passed away on Aug. 18 at the age of 80, was a pioneer in the national afterschool movement. He worked tirelessly to build congressional and presidential support for a national afterschool and summer learning program infrastructure that lives on today as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC).
Sen. Jeffords had many proud accomplishments, including chairing the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and helping to shape the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act. But advocates for afterschool remember him best as one of the original authors of the legislation that created the 21st CCLC.
By Luci Manning
The Sarah Burke House in the Bronx serves as a safe haven for kids and their moms to start a new life free from domestic violence. There, the children participate in theater, dance, yoga classes, and do arts and crafts after school and during the summer because as Ted McCourtney, director of the shelter, told the Daily News, “I think it is really important that we address the clinical aspects of what is happening in the children, but also that we just provide a fun, memorable, normal summer experience for these kids.” Mothers attend job training sessions while their children engage in safe surroundings, fostering the healing process.
High school students from Columbia Academy had a summer to remember as they travel
led to different locales as part of a summer learning programs geared toward s exploring the students’ passions, reports the Daily Herald. One student travel led to Los Angeles to study fashion, another went to North Carolina to study oceanography, while others traveled to Austria and Italy to learn more about history and European culture. The program was a smashing success as the globetrotting students returned inspired and more aware of what they want their future careers to look like.
Syracuse University opened its doors this summer to promote talented seventh and eighth grade girls
’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curricula. “The idea is that a lot of girls at that age turn away from science and math,” Project Engage Summer Program Coordinator Carol Stokes-Cawley told the Citizen, explaining how Project Engage is there to show the girls that STEM is for them. The students explored STEM topics to a greater depth of what they would in their schools’ science labs, pushing the limits of nanoparticles to determine their breaking points and creating prosthetics out of ordinary objects, afterwards calculating their properties, volume, flexibility , and strength.
Fifteen rising second graders from Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary sang proudly at their Seaside Teaching and Reaching Students (STARS) summer program graduation ceremony this week. The six week program, hosted by Seaside United Methodist Church, helped young students develop a love of reading. Program Director Mary Ellen Good boasted to the Brunswick Beacon, “The changes I saw in their reading ability, their desire to read. When they first came in reading was the last thing on their mind. Toward the end of the program they were asking to read. They found joy in going to the library each week. They were so proud of the fact that they had library cards.”
By Luci Manning
This year, New Mexico State University’s STEM Outreach Center expanded, giving more students the opportunity to participate in fun summer STEM activities. Susan Brown, director of the NMSU STEM Outreach program, explained to Las Cruces News how crucial it is to get kids excited about STEM, and that out of school programs are the way to truly engage them because, “summer camps give students a real-project based, problem-solving, inquiry-based approach to the STEM fields.” NMSU STEM also runs an afterschool program during the school year.
Two rising sixth graders at Desert Academy are doing all they can to help the environment through their Global Warming Express! Marina Weber and Joanna Whysner created Global Warming Express and enlisted supportive adults to raise awareness about climate change. The camp takes a hands-on approach to teaching elementary students about biology, earth science and sustainability and public speaking, so students can effectively advocate for their cause. So far the students have gotten their school to remove a vending machine to cut down on plastic bottle waste and presented before Environmental Protection Agency officials in Denver, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. They hope to expand the camp into an afterschool program.
Kids at the Jessye Normal School of Arts are getting a library! The school teamed up with The Book Tavern to collect books this month to build a school library. Collin Segura, counselor and publicity representative for the school, told the Augusta Chronicle that “the reading program would be a good way to prevent summer brain drain,” and has already been successful in getting its 27 participants to read 63 books in just three weeks.
The award winning Teens as Teachers program helped nearly 300 elementary and middle school students throughout South Dakota to “Take A Stand” against bullying, reports the Rapid City Journal. Teens taught younger students about conflict-resolution including lessons on communication, teamwork, social skills, empathy and cultural awareness and gained valuable inisight into teaching as a career. The South Dakota State University Extension 4-H Youth Development partnered with the South Dakota Coordinated School Health and the South Dakota 21st CCLC on the anti-bullying program.
By Luci Manning
Once again, students in the Art Activism summer program displayed a wide range of artistic abilities at the annual MGR Youth Rally for Change. The program provides free academic and artistic instruction for Pittsburgh students in grades K-8 and encourages them to pursue the art form they find most appealing. Some chose to sculpt and take photographs, others, dance. Art Activism does more than help the students learn these mediums, but also promotes using these new tools as a way to express themselves, giving them a voice or an outlet with which to cope with problems, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Pittsburgh Public Schools' Summer Dreamers Academy offers free academic and arts instruction for k-8 students seeking to close the summer learning gap for children from economically disadvantaged families.
Middle school students in Silver Spring discovered this summer that it’s never too early to start thinking about college. The new Go2College summer program introduced the students, many of whom would be the first in their families to go to college, to everything from college lingo and dorm rooms to questionnaires designed to help the students decide what careers would best suit them. Cynthia Rubenstein, executive director of Passion for Learning, one of the nonprofits supporting Go2College, told The Gazette that the program is intended to help the students understand what a college experience entails and what they can do to prepare for it, saying, “It’s become less abstract for them.”
Lakeview Park is the place to be for kids in Nampa. Through a combination of community efforts, the students get free lunch and entertainment to fill both summer nutrition and learning gaps. After dining on nourishing lunches provided by Oasis Food Center, the Nampa Public Library’s Summer Literacy in the Park begins story time and other fun activities including science experiments and jump-rope. The Idaho Statesman reports that the Summer Literacy in the Park has been so successful that it has expanded beyond Nampa, and now operates in 26 sites in Boise and Garden City.
George Garrow is the executive director of Concerned Black Men National.
This week, the CBM Summer Camp Experience comes to an end. Concerned Black Men National sponsors a “camp” for low-income elementary school kids in the nation’s capital every year. The children who attend the five week, day-long sessions come from families whose parents otherwise might not be able to afford to send their kids to a summer program that offers free meals, safety and structure, and equally important, a quality out-of-school-time experience. The young people in our program are wide-eyed and curious about the world like those who attend summer camps throughout the country. They join the tens of thousands of children who attend a variety of camps or similar events during the summer months.