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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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FEB
27

IN THE FIELD
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Advocates continue taking action to urge Congress to #Invest3to6

By Rachel Clark

As debate on ESEA reauthorization reached the floor of the House of Representatives, afterschool supporters continued calling on Congress to save 21st CCLC and invest in afterschool and summer learning programs.  Thanks to advocates from across the country, we're now a quarter of the way toward the goal of sending 10,600 emails to Congress by March 10 on behalf of the 1.6 million kids at risk of losing programs if 21st CCLC isn't protected—with less than two weeks to reach that goal, be sure to email Congress now if you haven't already.

This week, we also launched a Thunderclap campaign to coincide with the Afterschool for All Challenge on March 10, when hundreds of afterschool advocates will meet with Members of Congress face-to-face to share their stories and urge them to protect afterschool funding.  If you can't make it to the Challenge, you can still add your voice—joining the #Invest3to6 Thunderclap will schedule a message to be blasted out from your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account on March 10 at 1PM EST (one time only!).  The message is customizable, so if you have an extra minute, be sure to tag your representatives in Congress and use our America After 3PM dashboard to add stats from your state.

This week in the spotlight for going above and beyond in support of afterschool programs: Advocates from Tennessee, Texas, and YMCA of the USA, who took their messages to legislators at their state Capitols and on Capitol Hill this week.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Federal Policy Legislation
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FEB
27

STEM
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Opportunity to partner with a library

By Dan Gilbert

Children building a “ball contraption” in the Discover Tech exhibit at Mary Wood Weldon Public Library. From: http://www.starnetlibraries.org/gallery.html

We’ve talked a lot about how science centers and museums can be great partners, and we wanted to let you know that libraries can be great partners as well.  That’s why the Afterschool Alliance is excited to introduce a great new partnership opportunity around STEM learning!

STAR_Net, a national initiative to bring museum-quality science exhibits into libraries, was developed by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute, and has extended the invitation to libraries around the country to apply to host one of three interactive STEM exhibitsDiscover SpaceDiscover Earthand Discover Tech.

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
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FEB
27

POLICY
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Upcoming webinar: How changes to CCDBG will impact school-age care

By Erik Peterson

Please join the Office of Child Care (OCC) at the Department of Health and Human Services for a webinar-based discussion of school-age afterschool and summer care issues, including the impact of the newly reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act.

Following a brief presentation by OCC on various pieces of the new law, there will be an opportunity to ask questions.  In advance of the webinar you can learn more here about the new Child Care Development Block Grant Act and potential changes.

All school-age care providers are welcome to join the free webinar, as are child care advocates and state-level groups.  You can register here for this webinar, which is scheduled for March 3, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. eastern time.

After registering you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy
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FEB
26

POLICY
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ESEA reauthorization debate heads to floor of House of Representatives

By Erik Peterson

UPDATE: House Republicans opted not to hold a vote on HR 5 the ESEA reauthorization bill today as had been planned and instead adjourned for the weekend. It is unclear if the House will attempt to vote on the ESEA bill next week or if a longer postponement will take place. Media reports suggest the bill did not have the votes to pass.

The debate on the floor of the House of Representatives began this morning on the House Republican Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. A final vote is expected to take place tomorrow morning. The last time the bill was reauthorized was 2002, and Congress has been trying to reauthorize the current statute since 2007.  According to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who is managing the debate on the House floor for the Majority, HR 5, the Student Success Act, reduces the Federal footprint in education; empowers parents; supports effective teachers; and restores local control.  The White House has issued a veto threat on the partisan bill.

HR 5 does not reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which could lead to more than 1.7 million students losing access to desperately needed afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that keep students safe, inspire learning and provide a lifeline for our hard working families.  While the bill does create the Local Academic Flexible Grant that would fund “supplemental student support activities such as before, after, or summer school activities, tutoring, and expanded learning time,”  it also allows the same funds to support school day activities, such as academic subject specific programs, adjunct teacher programs, extended learning time programs, dual enrollment programs and parent engagement.  At a time when local and state funding is declining, it is likely that this grant would predominantly be used to fund activities during the school day.  

While more than 100 amendments to the bill were filed this past Monday, including five supporting afterschool programs, the House Rules Committee only made 44 “in order” as they were ruled germane to the bill and debated on the House floor.  One of these amendments  focused on afterschool and was offered by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA). Also, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, will offer the last amendment – most likely tomorrow morning - which is the Democratic substitute bill, though it will fail along partisan lines.

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FEB
26

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Creating healthy spaces for kids during out of school time

By Rachel Clark

Katie Giles is a project manager at the Out of School Time Nutrition and Phsyical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), a project of the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center.

“Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen afterschool programs make are ensuring that drinking water is served to kids and setting program policies not allowing in unhealthy drinks and foods during their program.  The OSNAP Learning Communities give programs a feeling of support- that they aren’t making changes related to physical activity and nutrition alone.”  Max, YMCA

Afterschool programs provide children and families with many benefits—from a safe caring space to academic enrichment opportunities.  Afterschool programs also have the unique potential to be health-promoting environments for children.

We know that most children do not get enough opportunities to be active, eat and drink healthy foods and beverages, and spend time in spaces free of unhealthy advertisements on TV and the internet.  The time that children spend in afterschool programming can be time that they are physically active, drink water rather than sugary beverages, and eat healthy snacks—with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Afterschool providers can give children these health benefits and they can do it with minimal time and cost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Health and Wellness Nutrition
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FEB
26

IN THE FIELD
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Bright Ideas STEM from Today's Youth finalists to compete in Orlando

By Rachel Clark

After two rounds of voting and judging in the Bright Ideas STEM from Today's Youth contest, the competition will culminate on March 6 as six finalists face off in Orlando, Fla.  The Bright Ideas STEM contest invited young people from across Bright House Networks' six service areas to dream up innovative ideas solving some of the world's challenges, inspiring local youth to become tomorrow's innovators and inventors.

To reach next Friday's competition in front of a live studio audience, finalists made it through a round of online voting on their idea's "coolness factor" as well as a round of evaluation by four expert judges.  Next, the finalists will compete head-to-head in Orlando for the chance to work with leading innovation firm Fahrenheit 212—and potentially see their idea realized!

The six finalists are:

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learn more about: Science
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FEB
26

POLICY
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Farm to School Act of 2015 introduced in Congress, would include afterschool programs

By Erik Peterson

The bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress yesterday by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).  The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program.  The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes afterschool programs and summer learning programs as well as preschools and tribal schools while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. 

The legislation has wide support from a variety of sectors for several reasons:

  • Farm to school is a proven method for improving the health of our nation's children.  Today, more than 23 million students are making healthier food choices at school, afterschool, and at home thanks to farm to school activities like school gardens, cooking classes and incorporating local foods in school meals. 
  • Demand for the successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program far exceeds supply.  In its first three years, the program received more than 1,000 applications but only had enough funding to award 221 grants.  In other words, just one in five projects was funded.

A complete summary of the bill and ways to take action in support of the bill can be found here. The Afterschool Alliance supports the bipartisan legislation and will be tracking the bill throughout the child nutrition reauthorization process this year. 

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition
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FEB
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 25, 2015

By Luci Manning

The 'T' in STEM: KidsTek Celebrates 15 Years (Denver Post, Colorado)

A small busload of well-dressed high school students arrived early at Mile High Station on Thursday with computers in tow. While a bit shy, any one of them could demonstrate how to troubleshoot a computer that stubbornly refused to get on a company network, thanks to the skills they learned at KidsTek, a nonprofit afterschool program that teaches technology to minority and lower income students. The program wants to steer high school students into computer careers, but they hope the skills they learn through the program can help them on whatever path they choose. “It’s not about getting them interested in technology. That is a byproduct,” executive director Richard Liner told the Denver Post. “We’re trying to give the kids the tech knowledge they need for any career they get into.”

Boise Rock School Rolls into Treasure Valley’s Cultural Scene (The Statesman, Idaho)

At 4 PM on any given weekday, a stream of kids rushes through the doors at Boise Rock School. The afterschool program teaches kids to rock like AC/DC or croon like Sam Smith, with classic rock, pop and indie folk music all mixing in the common area. What makes Rock School unique is that the students drive the curriculum – teachers are mostly there to coach and nurture, not push and prod. For kids who can’t make it to the actual Rock School, the program’s nonprofit arm, Rock on Wheels, visits schools, juvenile corrections facilities, homeless shelters and the Horseshoe Bend school district’s 21st Century Community Learning Center. “We throw around the word ‘cool’ a lot, but this really is,” program director Kim Hall told the Idaho Statesman. “This is an opportunity for these kids to shine that they might not get in other areas of their lives.”

Program Teaches About Girls Who Rock (Beloit Daily News, Wisconsin)

What do Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo and Bethany Hamilton – the surfer whose left arm was bitten off in a shark attack – have in common? They are strong women who overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams. They are the kind of women fifth graders learn about in the afterschool program Girls Who Rock (GWR) in Beloit. At GWR, girls chat with adult female mentors about self-esteem, friendship, good decision-making and more. Each session finishes with a large group circle where girls can discuss their lives. Founder and coordinator Jan Knutson said that fifth grade is the perfect time for girls to gain more self-esteem before entering middle school. “Role models are really important, especially for kids this age,” she told the Beloit Daily News.

After-School Programs a Big Hit in Westerly (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

At one end of State Street Elementary school, a small group of students is learning how to putt. Down the hall, another group is rehearsing lines for a play. In various classrooms in between, students are learning Italian, singing in a music ensemble, cooking, learning jazz dance and a little about nutrition. However, all of this takes place after the school day ends.  “It’s the second year the school has offered its afterschool enrichment program, and it’s thriving,” the Westerly Sun reports.  Organizers had to turn away 60 students who wanted to participate.

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learn more about: Science Arts
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