The Best Buy Foundation is looking to support your afterschool and summer program that helps youth develop 21st-century technology skills. Their mission is to “provide teens with places and opportunities to develop technology skills that will inspire future education and career choices.” The Best Buy Foundation’s annual Community Grants are awarded to programs that provide computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and mobile app development experience to students ages 13-18. The Best Buy Foundation provides one-year grants up to $10,000, with the average grant award of $5,000.
Who is eligible?
To qualify for the Best Buy Community Grants your organization must provide direct services to teens ages 13-18, have 501(C)(3) status or be a public agency with tax-exempt status, and be within 50 miles of a Best Buy store, Best Buy Mobile location, Best Buy Distribution Center, Best Buy Service Center, or Best Buy’s corporate campus. Programs can find the closest Best Buy using the Best Buy Store Locator. Programs that have Best Buy employee volunteers will receive special consideration.
How to apply
Applications are available starting April 1, and grant proposals are due by 5 p.m. EDT on May 19. Programs will be notified of the Foundation’s decision August 31, 2017. Visit the community grants page to read more and apply!
For other funding opportunities for science, technology, and engineering programs check out the Afterschool Alliance’s STEM Funding Page!
By Luci Manning
Almost 130 afterschool programs in the Houston area may lose federal funding under President Trump’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. More than 103,000 students across Texas participate in afterschool programs and their participation results in demonstrable academic benefits like increased attendance and improved test scores. “For a lot of these kids, we feel like we’re the difference,” Communities in Schools senior project director Kam Marvel told the Houston Chronicle. “Offering 15 additional hours of education a week improves the chances of passing the test and increases exposure to certified teachers.”
Some 1,500 students in Lake area schools take part in afterschool programs like Afterschool Ambassador Colleen Abbott’s LEAP program (Learning Enriched Afterschool Program), engaging in STEM learning, physical education, and homework help. Despite the improved test scores, grades, and attendance records of participating students, LEAP and other programs may lose funding under the president’s proposed federal budget. Abbott believes these programs are essential not only for students but also for working parents. “The families we support are hardworking individuals who strive to provide for their kids in order to give their children opportunities to succeed,” she told the Lake News.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would be devastating for students and parents in New Jersey, according to advocates and program operators. “Losing this would be a devastating blow to our students and families,” Wildwood supervisor of curriculum Josepha Penrose told the Press of Atlantic City. “This does allow more parents to work knowing their children have a safe place to go after school.” Programs like the Boys & Girls Club serve 26,000 students in 57 school districts across the state and give students a safe, engaging place to spend the hours after school ends and before their parents get home from work.
In a letter to the Argus Leader, Afterschool Ambassador Heather DeWit explains why afterschool programs are critical for her children and other students throughout South Dakota: “The caring adults in after school and summer programs have made a positive difference for both my children. They have had opportunities to make a difference in their world, been supported by positive role models and learned new things, all while I was busy at work... The economic toll we would face in South Dakota. if working parents lost this critical support, the risk factors our children would face, and the incredible benefits our children would lose, make this an obvious area where cuts would be tragic.”
A new national Quinnipiac University poll released late last week finds that American voters overwhelmingly oppose the proposed federal budget cuts to afterschool and summer learning programs. With 83 percent of voters saying that cutting funding for afterschool and summer programs is a bad idea, Tim Mallory, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll includes afterschool as one of the programs where, “it’s a stern ‘hands off’ from voters,” when it comes to cutting funding.
Funding for afterschool and summer learning programs has bipartisan support, with majorities from all parties—97 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of Independents, and 63 percent of Republicans—saying that cutting funding is a bad idea. It also has widespread support across communities, with 78 percent of voters in rural communities and 87 percent of voters in cities agreeing that it is a bad idea.
This poll reinforces previous findings on the broad support for public funding of afterschool and summer learning programs. Our 2014 America After 3PM national household survey found that 84 percent of parents were in support of public funding for afterschool programs, including 91 percent of Democrat, 86 percent of Independent, and 80 percent of Republican parents.
If you also believe that federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs is critical and you want to show your support, you can add your voice to the chorus of voices standing up and speaking out for afterschool.
|Photos by Every Child Matters|
Following the release of the president’s budget proposal, Every Child Matters is calling on the afterschool field to send Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), evidence and testimonials that before- and afterschool programs work.
Join a growing cohort of afterschool program providers, teachers, parents, and state and national partners in a coordinated online-offline effort to send a #Message2Mulvaney. Here’s how:
- Gather a group of afterschool supporters and write messages on brown paper lunch bags. Mail your bag to the Every Child Matters national office by Tuesday, March 28—they’ll hand-deliver your messages to Mulvaney himself.
- Sign the #Message2Mulvaney petition and share your message to Mulvaney. The Every Child Matters team will write it out on a brown paper lunch bag and deliver your message to Mulvaney’s office.
- Tweet out your message using the #Message2Mulvaney hashtag.
Eager to learn more? Check out the #Message2Mulvaney partner toolkit for resources like sample Facebook and Twitter posts and graphics and plenty of inspiration from your fellow supporters! For more ways to join the fight to save afterschool funding, visit our action center.
This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants, and providers of afterschool programs. This post is also an installment in our Afterschool & Law Enforcement series, which explores the ways afterschool programs are partnering with police to keep communities safe and growing strong. Our latest installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series highlights three recommendations for police officers working with afterschool programs.
Liam McEvilly, Program Director of the Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club, is a former police officer. While serving in the police force in the United Kingdom, McEvilly often worked with youth development organizations, inspiring him to make a career change and work with children full time.
When he found a home on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, McEvilly wanted to reach out to the local police department to let them know that they were welcome to stop by the program when on duty in the area. A parent in the program connected him with Officer Carla Sias, who works on community relations for the Bainbridge Police Department.
Officer Sias began coming to the Boys & Girls Club weekly to talk and play with the kids. Sometimes she brings in other officers from her department as well—in December, they threw an ice cream party for the club. When Officer Sias is there, she joins the kids in their daily activities. That might mean joining a game of pool, coloring, or walking students to a close by senior facility to read to residents. She sometimes talks to the kids about public safety or answers their questions about police while they play.
For many kids, playing with an officer after school allows them to learn more about a profession they have not learned a lot about. Afterschool often provides a casual environment for officers and kids to get to know each other as people. It is an opportunity for students’ typical interactions with officers to be positive experiences, rather than only encountering police officers if a negative situation occurs.
For others, interacting with an officer might be more challenging. On her first day at the Boys & Girls Club, Officer Sias met a middle school student who had faced a negative experience with a police officer when she was young. Seeing an officer in her afterschool program made the student uncomfortable. Officer Sias was able to talk with the student about her past, answer questions about the role of police, and connect with the student’s school guidance counselor to make sure the student was getting the support that she needed. The two were able to form a bond and they now check in on each other when they see each other at the club.
In addition to spending time with kids at the club and forming their image of police through positive interaction, Officer Sias has seen her involvement with the Boys & Girls Club affect other interactions outside of afterschool. Now when she visits schools, she is able to greet the kids she has spent time with afterschool, forming a stronger bond.
Officer Sias tries to develop a relationship with the staff, as well as the kids. She works hard to make sure she is an asset to the club, providing them with resources and support they might not otherwise have. She is happy to step in where she is needed and step out where she is not. Soon, when she has had time to identify the needs of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, she might collaborate with staff to create a more structured public safety-focused program and curriculum.
By Nicole Lovecchio, Chief Program Officer at WINGS for kids.
The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which turns to program providers in the field to answer some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the first and second posts of the series from Dallas Afterschool and After-School All-Stars.
As afterschool providers, we know that the hours from 3 to 6 p.m. offer an incredible opportunity to engage students who need it most and help them feel more connected to their peers, the school day, and to their community—and the key to maximizing that potential lies in the skills and abilities of the afterschool staff.
For many years we worked on codifying and documenting every element and detail of our program. We created manuals explaining how we ran our social and emotional learning (SEL) afterschool program in an effort to replicate our program throughout several sites in the Southeast. We then focused heavily on fidelity and the implementation of these program elements.
Along the way, we realized that a checklist of items, however exact, couldn’t guarantee a high-quality program. By gathering data on our staff and kids, we were able to see the shift that was needed: clearer focus on building up the skills of our staff on the ground.
3 ways data collected impacted program quality
Improving adult skills and practices. Quarterly program assessments (observations) of our sites uncovered a trend indicating that our staff (12 college-aged mentors per site who work in 1:12 ratio with students) were primarily focused on reacting to the negative behaviors of our kids. Because our staff was reactive instead of proactive, there was little room for engaging activity. Therefore, we redesigned staff trainings and redefined the WINGS approach to SEL, all with a focus on building adult skills and practices first and foremost.
By Luci Manning
Low-income students in Michigan would lose out on important educational and social experiences under President Trump’s proposed budget, which eliminates federal funding for afterschool programs. The budget cuts would result in a loss of more than $120 million for teacher training and afterschool programs in the state. “These cuts would have a devastating impact on the lives of our students, the families we support and the communities we live in,” Afterschool Ambassador Maria Mitter told MLive. Mitter supervises afterschool programs at 20 sites through Eastern Michigan University, which has received $2.7 million in federal funds.
Afterschool Ambassador Paula Adams explains how the loss of federal funding for afterschool programs would hurt Hawaii students in a letter to the editor in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser: “They’ll be latchkey kids, on their own, on the streets, some getting involved in risky behaviors, and all losing the opportunity to be constructively engaged and learning under the watchful eye of caring adults. It’s up to Congress to make sure the president doesn’t succeed in killing federal afterschool funding – and up to all of us to make sure our members of Congress know how much we value afterschool programs.”
Many Birmingham parents don’t know how they would care for their children if federal funding were eliminated for afterschool programs, as proposed in President Trump’s budget. “Those families depend on the 21st Century [Community Learning Centers] grant money that funds the afterschool programs,” Afterschool Ambassador and Glen Iris Elementary School principal Michael Wilson told WBRC. “[These] 120 kids, rather than stay here where it’s affordable and safe and nurturing, might be on the street in the afternoon.” Programs in the area provide a safe space for students to spend time after school ends and a chance for them to explore subjects that they may not have time for during the school day, like coding.
President Trump’s proposed budget would affect some 5,000 Granite School District students who benefit from 19 afterschool programs supported by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. “It’s devastating,” Afterschool Ambassador Margaret Peterson, executive director of the Community Education Partnership of West Valley City, told KUTV. “How can you abandon our children? They’re the future of America.” Peterson elaborated that taking away funding for afterschool programs will mean that students will miss out on valuable educational opportunities; studies show that students who participate in these programs exhibit significant academic improvement.
The new administration and Congress are considering changes to current federal health care law, including the components known as the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Discussions suggest Medicaid, medical aid to low-income families, may be cut by as much as 25 percent.
School districts use Medicaid funding for a number of student services, such as paying for medical supports required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and providing diagnostic screenings and treatments for issues that directly affect children’s well-being and in-class performance, like vision and hearing concerns, diabetes, and asthma. A recent survey by the School Superintendents Association reports that Medicaid dollars also fund health professionals, provide outreach and coordination of services to students, expand health-related services, and give students with disabilities the technologies they need for an equitable education. A table of state by state expenditures on school based services showcases how important the federal contribution is to schools and students.
Schools that continue to fund these necessary services in the face of cuts would have to find the money to fill gaps somewhere, which would mean less money channeled to other programs for schools and students. Organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) oppose the cuts and argue that these services for children constitute investments.
“Children with health coverage are more likely to attend school, graduate from high school, go to college, and become healthier adults with higher taxable earnings than uninsured children. Ensuring children and their parents have access to the medically necessary services they need from providers trained to serve children is critical to positive outcomes,” a CDF sign-on letter to Congress on potential health care reform reports. “We urge you to commit to build on the progress made over the past five decades to expand and improve health coverage for children, and, at a minimum, to “do no harm.”