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JUL
31

IN THE FIELD
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Social media advocacy day for summer meals a huge success

By Lindsay Damiano

 
Photo via Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Yesterday, thousands of advocates joined together on social media to send a loud, strong message to legislators: summer nutrition programs are essential.

We know that nutrition programs in schools keep children nourished and able to focus on their learning. But for many kids, summertime is anything but a relaxing break when they aren’t sure where their next meal will come from. That’s why we partnered with the YMCA, the National Recreation and Park AssociationBoys & Girls Clubs of America, the National AfterSchool Association, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Summer Learning Association and others to spread the word about the importance of reauthorizing child nutrition legislation and passing the Summer Meals Act. Summer learning and summer nutrition programs go hand-in-hand in supporting children; both deserve sustained investment.

For yesterday’s day of action, summer learning programs large and small shared what summer meals mean for the kids in their programs – and their stories were inspirational. The Texas Hunger Initiative wrote about how Canyon, Texas community organizations, from the police department to Master Gardeners, are each “adopting a week” this summer to provide enrichment activities at a new summer meals site, making sure kids’ minds are nourished as well as their bodies. The National AfterSchool Association explained that low-income children are less likely to have access to summer learning programs, where they would receive the summer meals they need and are eligible for—having summer learning and summer meals at the same site doubly benefits these underserved kids.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning Community Partners
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JUL
31

IN THE FIELD
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This summer, every child should be able to learn and explore with summer learning programs

By Jodi Grant

It’s 2 p.m. on a hot, humid DC summer day. Like most moms, I’m busy at work, and I’m so grateful to know that while I am focusing on how to advance afterschool and summer learning opportunities for all kids, my daughters are having an incredible time, making friends and learning in a safe, supervised environment.

Finding summer programs for opinionated and active tweens and teens is no easy matter—they would be perfectly content spending the day texting and playing video games. But today’s programs are exceptional. The perfect combination of learning, youth development and fun, summer becomes a chance for my daughters to learn and explore—getting out of their comfort zones and at the same time developing relationships with other students who share their interests.

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learn more about: Science Summer Learning Arts
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JUL
30

IN THE FIELD
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Congress heads home for August recess: Time to take action for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

The time is here when Congress goes on a month-long recess and senators and representatives return to your home town eager to hear your voice. The House recess begins this week and the Senate in early August. Plan now to reach out to your Members of Congress through meetingssite visits,  emaillettersand town halls  to emphasize the need for continued federal support of afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. We give you details on these five actions to take and why to act now.

Did you know the Congress is close to completing the reauthorization of the country’s largest federal education legislation, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind?

The Senate and House both passed versions of the act, but they are not the same. The Senate version carefully included the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) which help fund afterschool programs for over 1.7 million children in low-income communities nationwide. The House version left the program out.

But, even getting language for 21st CCLC isn’t enough! Supporting low income children and working families requires funding and the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed cutting the Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative by $117 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUL
30

POLICY
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Join us in celebrating #summermeals & #summerlearning today!

By Erik Peterson

In the summer of 1993, I worked as a staff member at the DC Schools Project’s Summer Enrichment Program hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, DC. That summer (and the next), a small staff of college students and I had the absolute honor of working closely with about 100 amazing DC middle school students, for whom English was not most of the students’ first language. I have a number of memories from that summer from helping students write, direct and act in their own original play to taking them to the beach in Delaware—for most, their first time to ever visit the ocean.

While there was a lot of fun and studying during those six-hour days, what sticks out the most was lunch time. It was over lunch that I got to know the teens and they got to know and respect each other. The opportunities for mentoring and relationship-building had a tremendous impact on the students and the staff, and it was the noontime meal that broke down the barriers between staff and participants and forged those connections.

Today, the Afterschool Alliance is joining forces with the YMCA, the National Recreation and Park AssociationBoys & Girls Clubs of America, the National AfterSchool Association, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Summer Learning Association and others to celebrate the power of linking summer nutrition programs with summer learning programs. While logistics and access issues associated with these programs are not always easy for providers, we know that providing nutritious meals through the USDA Summer Food Program is a critical part of successful summer learning programs. For some young people, meals are the hook that helps them get in the door and unlocks experiences like swim lessons, reading groups and robotic teams. For others, a nourishing meal silences a grumbling tummy and helps them focus on the learning at hand.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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JUL
29

STEM
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Tell us your thoughts on computer science in afterschool!

By Melissa Ballard

We need your help to better understand what the afterschool field thinks about computing and computer science education. Don’t know what those terms mean? That’s okay! We are looking for a range of practitioners to respond to this survey—from those with no familiarity, all the way to those who would consider themselves experts!

Because we value your time and expertise, we’re giving away some prizes! Complete the survey before August 7 to be in the running for a brand-new iPad Air. If completed before the final deadline of August 14, you will be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

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learn more about: Science
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JUL
29

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: July 29, 2015

By Luci Manning

High Schoolers Use Their Noodles at Engineering Summer Program (Washington Post, District of Columbia)

Local high school students spent a recent Friday morning putting their engineering skills to work by building bridges with dry spaghetti – and almost immediately destroying them. The teens in the Johns Hopkins University Engineering Innovation summer program were testing how much weight their noodles could support before collapsing. The engineering summer program aims to spark student interest in science by illustrating principles through hands-on projects, program director Karen Borgsmiller told the Washington Post. It’s an opportunity to explore how what they learn in their high school physics class applies to the real world. In addition to the spaghetti bridges, students in the program also build model cars and create traps to capture table-tennis balls.

Bringing Art to ‘Every Child’ (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Florida)

More than 150 children are spending their summer exploring beat box music, Latin dance, drama, drumming and hip-hop through an eight-week summer program put on by the Association of Florida Teaching Artists. Each day, homeless and underserved students get lessons in music and the arts from local professionals in an attempt to broaden their artistic horizons, build their confidence and keep them learning throughout the summer in a creative, interactive way. On a recent day, kids recorded their own songs using instruments they built from various household items. “This is my passion and my heart,” executive director Mary Kelly told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “Because I feel every child deserves quality art experiences.”

CRUSADing for Kids: Activists Seek Support in Campaign Against Child Poverty (Marin Independent Journal, California)

The Hannah Project’s Freedom School is sparking the imagination of nearly 50 disadvantaged students this summer as they focus on how to alleviate global poverty. The summer enrichment program was created by the Children’s Defense Fund to encourage reading and build leadership skills among low-income youths. “The biggest thing for them is to see somebody who looks like them, who they can relate to, who have experienced the same things they’ve experienced,” Corey Meshack, a paid intern from Midland University in Nebraska, told the Marin Independent Journal. “Once they see that, it opens them up.” The focus on eradicating poverty isn’t just for the kids – the Children’s Defense Fund is also engaging parents in the crusade, encouraging them to reach out to policymakers in support of a number of initiatives that could reduce child poverty in Marin. 

Violence Prevention Plan Aims to Teach Young Boys (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tennessee)

A new program at the YWCA Knoxville aims to teach middle-school boys how to identify violence and intervene.  GameChangers uses adult male mentors to teach middle school-age boys, primarily from urban areas, about different kinds of domestic violence, when and how to intervene and how to be advocates for women in their communities. YWCA violence prevention project coordinator Hannah Brinson told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that she hopes the program will “give them a positive male role model, someone who can offer them that different perspective of healthy masculinity and what it means to be a man.” The first group of boys is already meeting, and new groups will start next month as part of the YWCA’s afterschool program.

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learn more about: Science Summer Learning Arts Youth Development
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JUL
28

POLICY
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Kids Count 2015 Data Book reveals insights about children's education, health, and more

By Jillian Luchner

Annie E. Casey released its annual Kids Count 2015 Data Book last Tuesday. The report divides child well-being into four major areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. For the most recent year of data (2013), the report finds data trends in education and health improving while economic well-being and family and community trends have declined. Overall trends (such as those reported below) suggest that efforts to support child safety and development may be yielding some rewarding results. However, these trends may hide what is occurring in one region or for one group. Details in the report specify how each state and major race/ethnicity sub-group has been affected in each of the four categories.

Among the positive trends:

  • High school graduation rates are improving. The percent of students not graduating on time was reduced from about one in every four students (25%) in 2007/08 to slightly under one in every five students (19%) in 2011/12. 
  • More parents now have diplomas. In 1990, 22% of children lived with a head of household without a high school diploma, by 2013 the number had fallen to 14%.
  • More children are covered by health insurance. In 2008, 10% of children were uninsured. By 2013, the number of uninsured dropped to 7% (representing an uninsured population of 5.7 million children). States vary greatly in coverage rates, with a low of 2% uninsured in Massachusetts and a high of 15% in Nevada.
  • The rate of teen births is down to under half the 1990 rate. The teen birth rate among females ages 15-19 in 1990 was 60 births per 1,000, the rate is currently down to 26 births per 1,000.
  • Mortality rates are down. Among children and teens ages 1 to 19, mortality rates have dropped from 46 in every 10,000 youth in 1990 to 24 in 10,000 in 2013.
  • Teen drug and alcohol use and abuse is down. In 2007/08, 8% of teens ages 12-17 were reported to be using or abusing drugs and alcohol in comparison to 6% in 2013.
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learn more about: Legislation Working Families Youth Development
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JUL
28

FUNDING
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Mott Foundation invests $4M in Flint afterschool programs

By Rachel Clark

Today, efforts to help Flint, Mich.-area youth succeed in—and beyond—the classroom received a significant boost from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which has announced nearly $4 million in funding for afterschool and youth employment programs in the area.

"We want to see every young person in Flint and Genesee County succeed in school, work and life," said Ridgway White, president of the C.S. Mott Foundation. "We believe high-quality afterschool and job-training programs are essential to helping students achieve that success, which in turn helps to build the strength and stability of the community as a whole."

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment Youth Development Community Partners
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