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MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Sign your organization to the HOST Coalition letter

By Charlotte Steinecke

With the Trump administration’s full FY2018 budget released just this week, it’s time for afterschool programs, professionals, and organizations to rally together and push back against a budget that would eliminate federal afterschool and out-of-school time funding.

The Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition has drafted a letter to Congress that sends a strong, unified message in support of federal policies and programs that promote health and wellness for children across the country. The letter particularly mentions the ways afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs provide a crucial link between federal health and wellness policies for children and the real life actions that help children grow up strong, active, and at a healthy childhood weight.

“With an established record of accomplishment, afterschool and summer learning programs should not be underestimated as potential 'game changers' in promoting wellness among young people and therefore funding that support these programs must be maintained,” the letter reads.

National or state organizations are strongly urged to sign the letter in order to demonstrate the broad support for healthy out of school time programs.

Read the letter here. To sign on, click here and complete the form by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 2.

MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Not The Onion: Horses, surfboards, and cyberattacks in afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Photo by Pete Markham

Despite a wealth of research showing the importance of afterschool and widespread popularity with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, programs have never been more threatened. This week the President decided to double down on his call to eliminate afterschool funding in his 2018 budget proposal, leaving 1.6 million kids’ with no where to go after school. It’s a serious matter with implications for Americans across the country.  The cut has caught the attention of major national media, local media across the country, and late night comedians and Saturday Night Live.  

The Afterschool Alliance isn’t exempt from the heightened publicity. On Monday, we had our first mention in The Onion, which wrote a satirical piece on the Secretary of Education’s new plan to replace 21st Century Community Learning Centers with afterschool polo programs across the country.

I was flattered to be mentioned, but as in all great satire, the piece contained a lot of truth. If the Secretary of Education did call me, I’d be thrilled to tell her about pretty amazing afterschool programs. I haven’t heard of afterschool polo yet, but given the creativity and ingenuity local communities across the nation have developed, I would not be surprised. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, boost student success, and help working families – and quite often, they also blow your mind.

MAY
25
2017

POLICY
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Secretary DeVos testifies on administration’s education budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the Trump administration’s newly released FY2018 full education budget proposal. While the hearing mainly focused on school choice, vouchers, and state flexibility, several members of Congress spoke out against the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool initiative.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) opened the hearing, followed by opening statements by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).

Rep. DeLauro ran through a list of programs that are on the chopping block, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which “help keep two million kids safe after school.” Observing that “education is the great equalizer in our country,” DeLauro highlighted the necessity of quality education resources for the most vulnerable.

“We have an achievement gap in this country—and it is worse in high-poverty areas, both urban and rural. Yet these are the very areas we would starve with this budget,” DeLauro said.

Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) noted that afterschool programs are one of her favorite education initiatives because even if you “can’t get behind” educational enrichment activities, these programs can guarantee working parents that their children are safe after the school day ends. She also pointed out the stark contrast between the president’s proposed FY2018 and the bipartisan omnibus package just passed earlier in May.

Secretary DeVos testified in support of the budget, followed by an extended question and answer period. Reps. DeLauro, Lowey and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) all spoke out in support of the Community Learning Centers federal afterschool and summer learning program.

“[This] morally bankrupt budget steals health care from children and food assistance from hungry families in order to pad the pockets of billionaires and defense contractors,” Lee said. “If their budget is enacted, afterschool programs will close. Seniors will be forced to forgo medical care. Parents will have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.”

While Secretary DeVos did not directly address the proposed cut to afterschool, she did speak to the need for creativity in education, stating, “ I want to unleash a new era of creativity and ingenuity in the education space. My hope is that—working in concert with each of you—we can make education in America the envy of the rest of the world.”

The afterschool field has long been a home to innovation and creativity and we look forward to continuing to make that case to the Secretary.

The subcommittee is expected to consider the FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill later this summer. While the president’s budget proposal eliminates afterschool funding, the subcommittee will ultimately determine the funding level for Community Learning Centers and all other education and human services programs. Earlier this spring, more than 80 members of Congress from all across party lines submitted a letter to the subcommittee calling for full funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Friends of afterschool programs can reach out to members of Congress now, sending a clear message: Americans support afterschool and summer learning programs! Add your voice and take action now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to send a clear message of support for afterschool funding for 2018 and for years to come.

MAY
24
2017

POLICY
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Number crunch: Details from the president's FY2018 budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo of Mick Mulvaney by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 full budget proposal, following up on the “skinny budget” outline released in March. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017 (FY18).

Consistent with the skinny budget released in March, the full budget proposal proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which funds local afterschool programs in all 50 states. That proposal, which would devastate the 1.6 million children and families, comes in stark contrast to the strong support for afterschool recently displayed in Congress in the passage of the bipartisan FY17 omnibus spending bill last month, which included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers.

A budget opposed to research

The budget proposal, titled A New Foundation for American Greatness, 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, over a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs do in fact yield positive outcomes for participating children.

The Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in December 2015 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and saw its funding increased in the 2016 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support across party lines and a wealth of research to the contrary, the administration continues to maintain that the Community Learning Centers program is ineffective. The only evidence the administration uses to back its claim is hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from numerous researchers showing that afterschool works. 

In fact, the Department of Education’s most recent report on Community Learning Centers finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Center programs improved their math and reading grades, two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and more than half improved their classroom behavior. One out of four students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in both math and reading test scores. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.

MAY
24
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 24, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Funding Is a Smart Public Investment (Springfield News-Leader, Missouri)

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams argues for 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding in a Springfield News-Leader op-ed: “Over the long run, these programs can improve social-emotional skill development, classroom behavior, school attendance and high school graduation rates. That matters a lot to those of us in law enforcement because high school dropouts are three times more likely to be arrested and eight times more likely to be incarcerated than those who graduate…. By every measure, funding for these important programs is an investment that parents, kids and taxpayers can bank on in the years to come.”

Hamilton Couple Helps Youth Gain Valuable ‘Experience’ (Journal-News, Ohio)

Students in the Hamilton Boys and Girls Club can now earn the privilege of participating in special activities by regularly attending afterschool programs and demonstrating positive behavior, according to the Journal-News. The Club’s Experience program has been active for a year, providing the students with positive environments and enrichment activities like college visits, camping and art—opportunities that they may not normally have access to. “It’s fun for them to be able to try some of these things that they may not have the chance to be exposed to otherwise without the Experience program,” founder Krista Parrish said.

UPS Club Mentors High School Students to Broaden World of Computer Science (News Tribune, Washington)

A new program is helping Lincoln High Schoolers learn the fundamentals of coding alongside college students from the University of Puget Sound’s Beta Coders club. The diverse group of UPS computer science students tutors the teens in coding and animation, aiming to show them that anyone can pursue a future in STEM. “Many people see computer science to be an intimidating field that only a select few can strive in,” junior and club leader Sofia Schwartz told the News Tribune, “but I wanted to show people that it isn’t so complicated after all.”

Students Work with Horses as Part of After-School Club (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

Each week, ten fourth- and fifth-graders from Longfellow Elementary School have the opportunity to ride horses at the Seefus Riding Stable as part of a special afterschool program. Students take turns riding and learning to care for the horses and riding equipment. “Students get to interact and learn something they may not be learning in the classroom,” fifth-grade teacher and club leader Cassie Wall told the Daily Nonpareil. “It’s a really different experience and they can find out they do have passions for things other than what they’ve known.”  

MAY
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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In coal country, afterschool's a lifeline for working families

By Charlotte Steinecke

Photo courtesy of Monongalia County Schools Extended Day in Morgantown.

While some areas have started to recover from the Great Recession, some of the hardest-hit states continue to struggle with sluggish wage growth and limited employment opportunities. One of those states is West Virginia, where 1 in 4 children are growing up in poverty and well-paying union jobs, especially in the coal industry, are becoming rare.

Last month we had the opportunity to hear from parents in West Virginia. Tommy G. is a single father of three hit by the downturn of the coal industry. In a nearby county, Chastity and Brennan took on longer hours and a second job after their incomes were cut. And in Fairmont, a family of eight juggles the many of demands of work and kids. What do these parents have in common? They rely on afterschool programs—and say losing afterschool would result in financial hardship and put their ability to work in jeopardy.

West Virginia’s strong demand for quality, affordable afterschool options is made clear by America After 3PM, which found that the rate of participation in West Virginia’s afterschool programs more than tripled between 2004 and 2014. Hardworking parents, many of whom make ends meet with two or more jobs, find support for their affordable childcare needs in the form of aftercare, free and reduced-price food, homework and academic assistance, and more.

MAY
23
2017

POLICY
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Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool funding is still on the chopping block.

The fiscal year 2018 federal budget is in, and it eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding completely. Despite an overwhelming display of support for afterschool from voters, communities, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, the White House remains committed to cutting the programs that kids and families rely on. 

When the budget cut was floated back in March, the reaction was swift and absolutely clear: 

  • More than 1,450 diverse organizations signed a letter calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject President Trump’s proposal and fund 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) at or above its current level of $1.167 billion.
  • Eighty-one members of Congress (twice as many as last year) signed a bipartisan letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging them not to cut afterschool funding.
  • Researchers across the ideological spectrum spoke out about the value of afterschool programs.
  • Highly respected institutions posted new research summaries demonstrating that afterschool programs provide tremendous benefits – as nearly every study has clearly shown.
  • A Quinnipiac national poll found that 83 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs, with just 14 supporting the administration’s position.
  • Congress provided a modest increase in Community Learning Center funding for the remainder of FY2017, enabling 25,000 more students across the nation to participate in afterschool programs.

As our executive director Jodi Grant put it, the budget cut would be “a stunning blow” to working families, “who count on afterschool programs to provide enriching, educational opportunities for their children during the hours after the school day ends and before parents get home from work.”

But kids are the big losers if this budget cut goes forward. A decade of research show that afterschool works to boost student success. National studies of students who regularly attend 21st Century Community Learning Centers found participants improved math and reading grade level performance, class participation, homework completion, and classroom behavior. For example, in Texas’ 21st CCLC programs, students were more likely to be promoted to the next grade, while a statewide longitudinal evaluation of the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program in California found that students participating received higher ELA and math assessment scores. For additional details on these evaluations and to read more state reports, download our 21st CCLC Statewide Evaluation Academic Highlights fact sheet.

And we know that the benefits of afterschool aren’t just for the children in the programs; parents with children in afterschool programs report being more focused at work and being able to work a full day.  That additional security has huge economic results for individual families and for the nation. In fact, according to a study by Catalyst and the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis University, parents with children in afterschool programs contribute an additional $50 to $300 billion more to the economy each year.

At a time when 1 in 5 children is unsupervised after the school day ends and nearly 19.4 million children are waiting to get into an afterschool program, “The administration’s proposal is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promises to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” Grant added. Afterschool is working for millions of American families, and millions more have made it clear that there is immense unmet demand for programs—why would we want to shut them down?

It’s time to speak up in defense of afterschool. Our momentum is strong and we have fought back against one budgetary elimination before: we can do it again, and win. Email your representatives in Congress right now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to tell your representatives that you will not accept elimination of federal afterschool funding. Together, our voices and our advocacy can make the difference that saves afterschool.

MAY
22
2017

STEM
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Guest blog: Engaging families using the 5Rs

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Margaret Caspe and M. Elena Lopez of the Global Family Research Project. Global Family Research Project is pleased to share tips on tapping into students’ greatest resources - their families. Please feel free to use the visual on the 5Rs in your own materials and outreach.

A second grader named David, his parents, and his baby sister walk into a library and are transported into space.

No, it’s not the plot for a new edition of the Magic Tree House.

It’s STAR_Net—a project that supports libraries in providing hands-on, interactive science and technology learning experiences for their communities. Here’s what happened:  

David’s afterschool instructor reached out to invite families to a local library event on a Saturday afternoon after parents expressed interest in enrolling their children in programs focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). On the day of the event, librarians and afterschool instructors talked with the families about their knowledge of particular space and STEM concepts. David and his dad built a model solar system and his parents were able to connect to other families by competing in a quiz show game. In essence, the library and afterschool program worked together to reimagine how afterschool programs provide learning opportunities that involve families in meaningful ways.

These processes—reaching out to families, raising up their interests, reinforcing their knowledge, allowing them to relate to each other, and reimagining services and programs—are important ways that afterschool programs and libraries can jointly enage families in children’s learning. At Global Famiy Research Project, we call these the 5Rs. When afterschool and library leaders convey the value of family engagement and support a climate of innovation with the 5Rs, it becomes possible to design exciting learning experiences for the whole family.

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