Weak financial management stops too many afterschool and youth-serving nonprofits from winning grants, planning realistically, and doing all they can to fulfill their missions. Organizations with strong financial management are better able to fulfill their missions as well as plan and deliver high-quality services.
The Northeast Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks would like to invite you to attend a free webinar in partnership with Fiscal Management Associates (FMA), a leading financial management consultant for nonprofits, and The Wallace Foundation. This webinar is designed to help you learn how to build your organization's fiscal strength and that of your provider network through a new, free suite of online resources at StrongNonprofits.org.
You will hear from the creators of the website how to tailor it to your needs, and you'll also get advice from a leading expanded learning non-profit organization.
Date: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Parents are the natural advocates for their children, but they are also one of a school’s most prized resources and can be an afterschool program’s strongest supporters.
According to Parents for Public Schools, a national organization working to elevate the role of parents in public schools from passive consumers to active participants, “parent advocates raise school standards, solve problems and advocate for their community." Principals and teachers have long known they can accomplish more of their goals faster when parents become their advocates.
Parents advocating for improved conditions and better accountability for their children’s schools are also the best equipped and most engaged supporters for quality afterschool programs. In October 2012, the Afterschool Alliance researched parent engagement in afterschool programsand found that “engaged parents bolster participation of youth in programs, support the quality of afterschool programs, and are a constructive influence on parent involvement at home and at school.” Parents are assisting as volunteers, voicing their concerns and developing a culture of support for the community. Perhaps most importantly, though, parents are mobilizing as advocates, and their mobilization is effectively sustaining or increasing the financial support for both schools and afterschool programs.
- Receive health and safety trainings in specific areas
- Comply with applicable state and local fire, health and building codes
- Receive comprehensive background checks (including fingerprinting)
- Receive on-site monitoring
With the sequester now in effect, 3,400 AmeriCorps positions are expected to be cut. A recent story in the Baltimore Sun illustrates the concern that many afterschool providers have about the implications these cuts might have for their programs. At the Mother Seton Academy, a school for low-income children in Baltimore, AmeriCorps members serve in a number of vital roles, including helping out the afterschool program. As the school faces budget constraints and teachers are overworked, AmeriCorps members expand the capacity for schools and nonprofits to serve.
During a time of budget cuts, AmeriCorps members make all the difference in overcrowded classrooms, afterschool programs that keep kids safe or in tutoring programs that lower dropout rates. A recent blog post on Service Nation argues that the small living stipend offered to AmeriCorps members costs the country far less than the price of a teenager who drops out of school. With the wide range of services that AmeriCorps members offer, cuts to the program will undoubtedly have a large impact.
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.
This week is National Volunteer Week, a special time to recognize the extraordinary contributions of volunteers across the country.
Afterschool professionals understand the importance of volunteers. These dedicated individuals are key to ensuring all children have access to high quality afterschool programs. Volunteers fulfill a number of different roles, from serving as tutors and mentors to educating students on specific subjects. They also fundraise for these programs and can manage certain aspects of program operations Without volunteers, many afterschool programs would not be able to serve the 8.4 million students they reach.
Community volunteers are not the only people afterschool programs rely upon. Volunteers from the major national service programs, including AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA, also play important roles in many afterschool programs. During their year-long service commitments, AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members manage volunteers, fundraise, promote program sustainability and work directly with enrolled students. These volunteers are critical to the day-to-day operations of many afterschool programs.
If you are an afterschool program volunteer, thank you for all that you do! If you manager or work for an afterschool program, be sure to take some time this week to thank your volunteers.
This week, 20 youth finalist teams will meet at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, for the Conrad Foundation’s 2013 Innovation Summit. Teams will present their designs of a “global innovation product” developed for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge to a panel of scientists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and government officials. Challenged to create commercially viable products to address issues of global sustainability, teams applied their STEM knowledge in innovative ways, developing products for one of four categories—Aerospace and Aviation; Cybertechnology and Security; Energy and Environment; and Health and Nutrition. These young entrepreneurs will undergo a tough evaluation on technical content and market viability from an expert panel, and the winning team in each category will receive a $10,000 grant to continue their product development.
I spoke with one of the teams, Chicks in Space, a subset of the Neighborhood After School Science Association (NASSA) from Ava, NY. MaryAnn, Lillith and Adia—ages 17, 14 and 12, respectively—are among the 5 teams competing in the Aerospace and Aviation category. Their product, the Garden of ETON (Extraterrestrial Organic Nutrition), provides a way for astronauts weary of dehydrated foods to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Through a series of experiments on plant growth in microgravity conditions, Chicks in Space developed a hydroponic gardening system that can be used in space! Their original submission video, below, follows the research and development process of the Garden of ETON.
Christina Schock, AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer, Nevada Afterschool Network
Afterschool Alliance AmeriCorps VISTAs are making a difference across our country. They’re working on projects involved with helping programs write sustainability plans and getting afterschool meals. VISTAs have been placed all across the country including Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, California, Ohio, New Mexico and many more. Along the way, while working directly with programs and networks, we have learned how to overcome many of the issues they face in today’s political and economic reality. Having worked with a gamut of different programs including rural, urban, elementary education programs, secondary education programs, resource rich programs and non-resource rich programs, we are looking to share those experiences and pass them along to programs outside of our reach.
We are introducing a new webinar series to pass along the tools, resources, experiences and lessons learned along the way. Each webinar will address an issue all programs face when looking at long term sustainability, such as grant writing, finding/retaining volunteers, building partnerships, diverse funding, marketing, core messaging, fundraising and events. Guest speakers and experts from the field will also be available to offer their advice and answer questions. Participants can register to participate in upcoming webinars or view/download past webinars for free at www.NevadaAfterschoolNetwork.org. We recommend passing along the webinars to programs that might benefit from them. This series is free thanks to the Afterschool Alliance, Nevada Afterschool Network and the many VISTAs working in the field. For more information and to register for an upcoming webinar you can visit the Nevada Afterschool Network's website.
On March 14, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui announced a plan to develop a new statewide initiative to enhance the learning experience of intermediate and middle school students during the afterschool hours. According to the lieutenant governor’s office, the Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge will provide a comprehensive social and educational foundation that will enrich the lives of intermediate/middle school students throughout Hawaii through a broad base of programs and activities, outside of regular instructional hours. The program seeks to include academic enrichment, arts and culture, and sports and will be designed to help prepare students for high school, college, the workforce and their communities.
The new initiative addresses the need to keep young people safe and engaged during the hours immediately following school. Afterschool programs are shown to increase or improve school attendance, behavior and coursework—all key indicators in whether a middle school student will graduate. Furthermore, studies show that crimes committed by or against juveniles occur with greater frequency on schools days and roughly between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m.
The Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge was inspired by After-School All-Stars Hawaii, a comprehensive, high quality afterschool program for middle school students that provides free, engaging afterschool programming that helps young people succeed in school and in life. The program serves middle school youth ages 12-15 during the afterschool hours of 3 to 6 p.m. at eight middle schools on Oahu. Students from After-School All-Stars joined the lieutenant governor for the announcement.