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FEB
16
2018

IN THE FIELD
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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

By Charlotte Steinecke

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same thing?’”

“Swaliga,” meaning “passion,” comes from the island of St. Martin. It’s the watchword for an innovative afterschool program in Washington, D.C., that connects youth with innovative education opportunities by uniting a love of music and arts with science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning.

Since opening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in 2012, Swaliga Foundation has served more than 6,000 youth worldwide. In the next five years, they’re looking to connect with 1 million young people worldwide – a goal Brown and his team are passionate about.

“Our mission is to become the world’s premiere source for innovative youth education.”

How do you innovate youth education in the age of the iPhone? Swaliga Foundation aims to change the way young people use technology by making technology producers out of technology consumers. They teach the technological skills necessary to effect that transformation by tying them to the interests students already have—their passions for sound-mixing, composing music, shooting videos, and beyond.

FEB
15
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Former Ed Sec John B. King highlights educator superpower: We tell children they belong

By Jillian Luchner

Last week I attended a Title I Conference in Philadelphia. The “Title I” name may be as generic as they come, but it is one of the most important Titles in education policy.

The purpose of Title I, which was recently reauthorized in 2015 in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high quality education and to close educational achievement gaps.” To meet this goal the law includes federal funding that gets distributed to support lower income students and schools. Title I funding can be and is used effectively in schools and districts for quality afterschool programs as well as other efforts.

"The best antidote to oppression is education.”

Dr. John B. King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, and currently the president of The Education Trust served as the keynote on the conference’s first night. King remarked that education in the United States is in fact making progress. For example, scores on a nationwide standardized test (NAEP) continue to trend upward and graduation rates are increasing hitting a nation-wide high of 84% last year. However, he cautioned, we must be mindful of the gaps – such as those in which our higher income students achieve academically, graduate high school and complete college at much greater rates than our lower income students.

The same gaps are seen between white students and students of color, marking an especially salient fact in light of February being Black History Month. These academic gaps, Dr. King noted, are really a function of opportunity gaps.

King takes a dual approach to problem solving when confronting the opportunity gap. The first is to provide equitable resources in schools; for example, helping to incentivize the strongest teachers where they are most needed, investing in initiatives that have been shown to work to close gaps such as early education and Pre-K, and placing school counselors and advanced academic options in schools where they are limited. While not mentioned by King directly, access to high quality afterschool programs are another essential piece of this puzzle.

FEB
14
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 14, 2018

By Luci Manning

Henley Student Honored for After-School Program (Herald and News, Oregon)

High school sophomore Nicole Cleland was recently honored with a $1,000 donation from U.S. Cellular to put towards the innovative afterschool program she developed for elementary school students. Cleland’s program focuses on teaching students how STEM skills can be put to good use in the agricultural industry. “Nicole’s passion and commitment to educating young lives is truly inspiring,” U.S. Cellular director of sales in the northwest Erryn Andersen told the Herald and News. “She is setting an incredible example for her peers and community, and we are in awe of the selfless acts of good she’s doing here in Klamath Falls.”

Spur Would Connect Students to Swamp Rabbit (Greenville News, South Carolina)

The Greenville community is rallying to give youths in the afterschool Momentum Bike Club safe access to nearby biking trails. At the moment, students in the club ride on busy streets or cut through the woods to get to the trail, but nonprofit Bike Walk Greenville has arranged with the city to build a connecting trail to Lakeview Middle School if the organization manages to raise $100,000 by this summer. According to the Greenville News, the group has already raised more than $47,000 toward the project. “This is going to give safe access to lots of kids, as well as the adults that also live in that area,” Bike Walk Greenville board chair Tim Hibbard said.

Computer Science Students Mentor Youth (Scarlet and Black, Iowa)

Once a week, Grinnell College computer science students head to the Drake Community Library to give coding and computer programming lessons to local middle and high school students. The student-designed curriculum offers students the opportunity to learn different programming languages and work with 3-D printers and other equipment. The afterschool club has been so successful that it has spurred improvements in computer science education elsewhere in the community, according to the Scarlet and Black. “The code club at the library was successful, which helped get the school district to add a computer science class at the high school,” Drake systems administer Monique Shore said.

Alum Teaches Vocabulary Through Hip-Hop (Brown Daily Herald, Rhode Island)

Recent Brown University graduate Austin Martin developed a creative educational platform to help underperforming students learn vocabulary and academic concepts through the hip-hop music they know and love. “I wanted to combine my love for hip-hop and this idea… about the academic viability of hip-hop,” Martin said. “I wanted to bring that spark to kids across the country with ‘Rhymes with Reason.’” Martin’s research has shown that low-performing students who choose to learn through “Rhymes with Reason” eventually surpass their higher-performing classmates who study with flashcards, according to the Brown Daily Herald. The platform is now used in approximately 35 schools and afterschool programs around the country.

FEB
13
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Our hearts are broken

By Charlotte Steinecke

The Trump administration has zeroed out the budget for afterschool for the second year in the row. We're heartbroken by the news, but the budget battle isn't over yet and we're turning heartbreak into action.

This Valentine's Day, use the resources on the We Love Afterschool landing page to share a message with your representatives. In addition to the heartbreak .gif above, we have a .gif you can use to thank supportive representatives (find their handles here), a printable graphic for your students to illustrate, and a collection of plug-and-play sample social media you can adapt to your audience or use as-is!

We'll be watching the tag #IHeartAfterschool tomorrow, along with #AfterschoolWorks. And you can strike while the iron is hot—share your love of afterschool with your representatives in Congress and urge them to support funding for afterschool programs. 

share this link: http://bit.ly/2EpN9A3
learn more about: Events
FEB
12
2018

POLICY
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Administration slashes federal afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

Today the Trump administration released their fiscal year 2019 full budget proposal just days after Congress approved topline spending levels for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2018 (FY19).

Echoing the FY18 budget proposal released last year, the administration again proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which funds local afterschool and summer learning programs in all 50 states. Elimination of these funds for local programs would devastate the 1.7 million children and families who stand to lose access to programs as a result.  

The budget proposal comes in stark contrast to the strong bipartisan support for afterschool displayed in Congress. Just in 2015, the Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2017, bipartisan support in Congress in the FY17 omnibus spending bill lincreased funding by an included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers funding to meet the large need for these programs from working parents, students and communities across the country.

The research is clear: Afterschool works

The budget proposal attempts to justify the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers by claiming that a lack of evidence exists that links the program to increased student achievement. In fact, more than a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs yield positive outcomes for participating children in academics, behavior, school day attendance, and more. Last fall yet another study was released by the nonpartisan Rand Corporation, concluding afterschool and summer learning programs provide measurable benefits to youth and families on outcomes directly related to program content and demonstrably improve academic outcomes. While the effectiveness of Community Learnign Centers funding is clear, the impact of program elimination is clearly devastating, with thousands of students from pre-K to 12th grade in all 50 states at risk of losing access to programming. 

FEB
9
2018

POLICY
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What the bipartisan budget deal means for afterschool

By Erik Peterson

Around 2 a.m. this morning the Senate and then the House passed a bipartisan budget deal and continuing resolution that extends government funding to March 23, doubles the federal investment on child care, and also raises the spending caps for non-defense and defense spending for FY2018 and FY2019. The measure, signed into law today lays the groundwork for a FY2018 Omnibus spending bill that is able to make additional important investments in education programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. 

The bipartisan budget deal raises the debt limit until March 2019 and extends important health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program CHIP). It includes disaster relief for areas impacted by hurricanes and fires last year including Puerto Rico.

The deal negotiated by Senate and House majority and minority leadership allows for a total of $131 billion in additional non-defense discretionary spending for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and $165 billion more for defense spending over the two fiscal years.  As a result, additional funding is expected to be available for the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations, which includes federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool and summer learning program funding. 

Of the total two-year increase for non-defense discretionary spending, several programs were singled out to receive increases however the remaining increases will be determined by the Appropriations Committee over the coming weeks as they write the FY2018 Omnibus spending bill.  In particular the deal authorizes an increase of $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program over two years ($2.9 billion per year), doubling these funds. About a third of CCDBG funds support school-age children in afterschool and summer learning programs therefore this historic increase means more school-age students will be served while program quality will also improve. Click here to see a chart by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) showing how many additional children will be able to receive child care assistance in each state. The deal also includes:

  • $6 billion to fight opioid and mental health crises which could include funding for local prevention efforts.
  • $20 billion for infrastructure – the description does not mention schools at this time. However details have yet to be worked out and advocates are making the case for school construction funding.  

While Congress passed this new spending deal and fifth continuing resolution for FY2018 today, the Trump administration is still expected to release its budget proposal for FY2019 this coming Monday, February 12, 2018. Friends of afterschool are encouraged to weigh in with Congress on the importance of federal support for local afterschool and summer learning programs for both the FY2018 Omnibus bill and FY19 appropriations.

FEB
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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STEM funding opp: Enter the 2018 Possibility Grants sweepstakes

By Charlotte Steinecke

Make your lab a little more fab: enter the Siemens 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes! K-12 schools are eligible to enroll in the sweepstakes and vote daily for their school, from now until the deadline on April 27. Check out the possibilities with the #IDreamofSTEM hashtag.

Grant Name: 2018 Possibility Grant Sweepstakes

Description: $10,000 to spend on STEM technology and resources.

Eligibility requirements: All K-12 schools are eligible to apply. Educators can enter daily. The winner will be chosen through random drawing.

Deadline: 5 p.m. ET on April 27, 2018.

How to apply: You can enter daily for a chance to win – simply enter your school information here, and you’ll be able to vote for your school as often as you’d like! Previous winners are not eligible to enter. See the official rules here.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2Eblq6g
learn more about: Funding Opportunity STEM
FEB
7
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 7, 2018

By Luci Manning

CareFlight Lands at Johnson Elementary School for BOYS2MEN Program (Montrose Daily Press, Colorado)

More than 40 boys at Johnson Elementary School were thrilled to get a visit from a medical helicopter last week as part of the BOYS2MEN afterschool program. Community figures like firefighters, paramedics and police officers have been visiting the school to give students positive role models and show them the different ways they can serve their community as they grow up. “Everybody has a role to play in their community,” third-grade teacher Andrew Steck told the Montrose Daily Press. “For some of these kids, it’s their opportunity to think, ‘This is something I can explore when I get older.’”

Plotting Course to Future (Redlands Daily Facts, California)

A Redlands couple is working to make sure students from underrepresented backgrounds have greater access to higher education through the Rochford Scholar College Access Program. Tim and Carol Rochford worked with officials at the University of Redlands to craft the program, which will provide 20 students a year with college and career readiness training, tutoring, college tours and more, along with a $30,000 scholarship for students admitted to the university. “We know that this program is designed for kids who have the potential but (may) not otherwise express that potential,” University of Redlands’ School of Education Dean Andrew Wall told the Redlands Daily Facts. “We’re trying to grab hold of students and parents to give them the knowledge that will help guide them to college.”

Little Luxuries: New Clubs Mentor Girls, Young Women (Telegraph Herald, Iowa)

A hair salon owner and single mother of two has created a club to help mold young girls of color into confident, passionate individuals. The Little Luxuries Girls Club, sponsored by Dubuque’s Multicultural Family Center, gives students opportunities to work on community service projects, provides guest speakers and exposes the girls to arts and culture by bringing them to plays and other events. “It’s really helped these girls come out of their shells,” program creator Shamika Rainer told the Telegraph Herald. “It allows them to share and be more confident and comfortable with whoever they are … and to see that we all have something to contribute to society.”

Bigs with Badges: New Mentoring Program Pairs Kids with Safety Officers (Evening News and Tribune, Indiana)

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kentuckiana recently launched a program meant to connect young students with mentors in law enforcement to build trust between the two communities and give youths positive role models to look up to. Fifteen firefighters from the Jeffersonville Fire Department have already committed.  “We have so many kids in our community [who] could really benefit from somebody who could just kind of walk that journey of life with them,” Southern Indiana Mentoring Partnership member Jerry Finn told the Evening News and Tribune. “We would love it if every child in our school system had somebody they could turn to if they had questions or need some support or just need a friend or help with homework.”