By Luci Manning
Patrick Henry Middle School is doing its part to close the technological skills gap in South Dakota with an afterschool class for middle school girls. The computer coding class follows the curriculum outlined by national nonprofit Girls Who Code, which builds young girls’ interest in web development, cyber security, information systems and computer programming. The class is trying to break down the barriers that keep women from entering tech fields. “Mostly there’s boys or men that do coding jobs and I guess girls don’t know that the opportunity’s out there,” sixth-grader Ava Bouwman told the Argus Leader. “You don’t have to be a certain gender to do something.”
For 50 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County have given kids a safe place to do their homework, play sports, exercise their creativity and make new friends. The clubs care for nearly 5,000 children, many from low-income families, offering fun, character-building activities during the after school hours. Seventeen-year-old Stephen Kalokoh was initially hesitant to join the club five years ago, but quickly came to see it as a “big family” and credits the club for his leadership skills. He told the News & Observer that while some of his peers from middle school are now in jail, his friends from the club have college and careers in their future.
An afterschool program at Twain Elementary School is helping Spanish-speaking children build pride in their heritage while giving University of Iowa students a chance to practice their language skills. The goal of Spanish Buddies is to help the kids, many of whom grew up speaking a mixture of English and Spanish, learn a more grammatically correct version of Spanish and show that their language is part of their identity. “These native speakers should be proud to speak two different languages, though some of them aren’t,” Before and After School Programs director Steve Nordlund told the Daily Iowan. “For a lot of these kids, this afterschool program is a confidence boost to them, and they’re starting to realize that it’s something they shouldn’t be ashamed of."
Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas makes the case for a continued investment in afterschool programs in the Orange County Register: “After-school and summer programs make sure students are safe, healthy, supervised and engaged in learning activities and develop the skills they need to succeed in life…. Not only does [the Santa Ana Police Athletic & Activity League] help keep kids safe and on track academically, it’s building community trust with daily positive connections between youth and law enforcement.... However, funding for the After School Education and Safety program has remained static for a decade…. Increasing state funding for existing ASES grants now will ensure quality programming continues to keep California’s youth off the street and out of trouble.”