By Luci Manning
The Afterschool Alliance and more than 1,400 organizations send a letter to Congress this week urging representatives to reject President Trump’s budget proposal that would eliminate funding for afterschool programs. The budget cuts would affect some 6,000 Hawaii students. “We would like (Congress) to put the 21st Century (program) back into the budget,” Afterschool Ambassador Paula Adams told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “Afterschool programs… are making a huge difference in our children’s lives and they are proving to be effective in who our children are in general.”
The Salisbury Daily Times editorial board argues that afterschool programs turn children into better students and better citizens, pushing back on the idea that afterschool programs don’t improve academic performance. They write: “Anyone, including the president, who thinks keeping fed and supervised after the school day ends is a waste of federal tax dollars, is sadly mistaken. ... The programs threatened by the president's proposed budget provide academic enrichment, supervised STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, arts and social experiences, homework assistance, nutrition and socialization opportunities. They help youngsters develop skills they need to grow, learn and become productive, responsible citizens. Isn't that what we want, as a community?”
In an op-ed for the Plain Dealer, Annemarie Grassi, CEO of the afterschool program Open Doors Academy, details the effectiveness of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program: “Teachers report substantial progress in homework completion and overall behavior. Strong improvements have been documented for mathematics grades (36.5 percent), English grades (36.8 percent), and state tests in elementary reading and high school math. Given that many of the young people enrolling in the programs enter with notable academic deficits, these outcomes are striking. ... The 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant program is characterized by high impact, financial efficiency, strong results, and a solid return on investment. ... We urge the president to protect 21st Century funding and thereby stand behind an initiative that truly works – for everybody.”
About 600 to 700 Fremont Public School students could lose access to afterschool programs under President Trump’s budget proposal. The programs work to narrow the achievement gap and provide academic enrichment in coordination with the school curriculum, particularly helping lower-income students who may not have access to beneficial extracurricular activities. “We are giving kids the opportunities to participate in these activities and a lot of our teachers express that each year they see achievement from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year raise in subjects like math and reading specifically,” Leah Hladik, program director of Fremont Expanded Learning Opportunities, told the Fremont Tribune.
By Y-USA Achievement Gap Programs Evaluation Team.
The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the fourth 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, second, and third posts of the series.
|Photo courtesy of Lori Humphreys, VP of Child Care, YMCA Of East Tennessee.|
At YMCA of the USA, our Achievement Gap Programs evaluation team provides a comprehensive evaluation strategy, training, tools, and support to hundreds of local Ys doing the important work of delivering Achievement Gap Signature Programs to thousands of children. The Achievement Gap Afterschool Program has expanded to over 130 sites since it began in the 2012-2013 school year and is currently serving over 7,000 children across the nation.
Organization leadership, funders, and community partners are often eager to see the data that comes out of program evaluation, and it is not uncommon for organizations to need additional guidance and resources to start the data collection process. We'd like to share what we think are data collection essentials for this important and possibly overwhelming part of the evaluation process.
The first step is for the program’s primary stakeholders to define program goals and benchmarks. Identifying the questions that should be answered about the program helps to focus on what matters most for the program.
Before you start
- Be organized: Develop a plan from start to finish before diving into the data collection process. How will data be collected? What tools will be used to collect data? Who will do the data collection, entry, and analyses? How will the data be reported? Include a general timeline for each activity in the plan.
- Be realistic: As a data collection plan is developed, be realistic about the resources you can dedicate to the project and plan accordingly. When you can, simplify.
- Be clear: All data collection processes should include a clear explanation for why the data is being collected and how the data will be protected and reported. Clarity of purpose ensures that staff, parents, and participants are fully informed on the program’s data collection practices.
- Be concise: When developing tools to collect data, stay focused on only gathering essential information that relates to goals or the questions stakeholders have agreed upon. Collecting information that you don’t plan to use takes up precious time when creating data collection tools, when users fill out the tools, and when the data is analyzed.
By Ron Ottinger, the director of STEM Next, co-chair of the national STEM Funders Network, and the former executive director of the Noyce Foundation. Known as a leader and expert in STEM learning, Ron has spent the last nine years guiding the Noyce foundations initiatives in informal and out-of-school-time science. With STEM Next, Ron continues to work toward increasing STEM learning opportunities for youth nationally.
This blog was reposted with permission from STEM Next.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to afterschool programs would deny millions of American youth the opportunity to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning; inhibit the development of the nation’s future scientists, engineers, inventors, and business leaders; and cut young people off from building the skills they need to advance in school, work, citizenship, and life.
If enacted by Congress, the President’s budget would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the single largest source of funding for afterschool and summer programs that enroll 1.6 million students across rural, urban, and suburban communities in all 50 states.
Afterschool and summer programs provide essential learning opportunities for young people. This is particularly true when it comes to STEM learning – a national priority.
And afterschool programs have the support of an overwhelming number of Americans: a recent Quinnipiac poll found 83% are opposed to cuts in afterschool funding.
The Administration has said there is no evidence that these programs are effective. That is simply not true.
Salutations! My name is Charlotte Steinecke and I’m delighted to introduce myself as the new Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. It’s a privilege to join such a dedicated team united for a worthy cause, particularly at such a politically exciting moment.
As the significantly older stepsister to two school-age boys, I get to see firsthand the way a good afterschool program helps students and parents in so many different ways. Getting to take that personal investment and make it the subject of my work every day is a wonderful opportunity!
I come to the Afterschool Alliance from LivingSocial, where I was the editor on the travel vertical and worked closely with the marketing team. I’ve also worked at various nonprofits and corporate entities in D.C., including the Association of American Medical Colleges and ThinkFoodGroup. I’m a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and an indefatigable proponent of holistic—and exceptional!—education at all levels.
As the Communications and Editorial Associate at the Afterschool Alliance, I’ll be managing the Afterschool Snack blog (hello, audience! We’ll be seeing a lot of each other.) and providing communications and editorial support across the organization. I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the Alliance’s work supporting afterschool programs, providers, families, and students across the nation.
The recent national dialogue and policy landscape has exposed children of all ages to complex discussions about immigration, religion, diversity, safety, and community. In a climate of uncertainty, students can end up feeling frustrated, hurt, alienated, or confused if these often-taboo subjects are not confronted thoughtfully by adults.
Many tools of the trade exist to help students engage constructively and understand themselves, their peers, their community, and their country. When led by trained, well-equipped staff, afterschool and summer programs can provide ideal settings with the necessary time and structure for students to work through complex thoughts and emotions and develop their roles in safe and welcoming communities.
Over the next year, the Afterschool Alliance and a broad range of partners will present “Tools to Build On,” a webinar series of expert testimony, discussions, resources, and firsthand accounts on how to bring out and build up supportive climates during out-of-school time. The first four topics are:
- Supporting immigrant students, families, and communities: Best practices for afterschool programs interacting with immigrant students and families (Wednesday, April 12 at 2 p.m. EDT). Register now.
- Understanding and responding to identity-based bullying: Current frameworks and strategies for educators and youth bystanders (May 2017).
- Building community between police and youth: Working to build positive and productive relationships between children and teens and law enforcement (June 2017).
- Engaging the tough conversation: Learning the skills and tools to help students confront complex issues and feelings in a safe space (July 2017).
All kids deserve to feel welcome, valuable, and safe without exception. These four webinars are just a start, and we’ll be offering more webinars, practical tools, and resources in the coming year. Please join the Afterschool Alliance for this important series.
By Luci Manning
If President Trump’s budget were to pass, South Carolina afterschool and summer programs serving some 13,000 students would lose $16 million dollars in federal funding. Many of these programs are run out of high-poverty schools like Pepperhill Elementary in North Charleston, where more than 100 students stay after school to get homework help, enjoy a healthy meal, and work on science projects. The program has improved students’ test scores and academic achievement, and is also a huge help to working parents. “A lot of our parents are single parents who work two or three jobs,” assistant principal Jamie McCarthy told the Post and Courier. “Not being able to have this would be taxing not only to our children, but to our families.”
On Sunday, the Keene Sentinel editorial board noted its support for maintaining afterschool funding on the local and national level. They wrote: “[Afterschool programs] provide more than babysitting services. They provide additional structure to the day for students, and added learning opportunities and focused time to work on school assignments. They also often include physical activities at a time when childhood obesity is a growing concern. They even partner with other organizations to offer even more learning venues … with Trump proposing to cut 21st Century Community Learning Center grants … it’s going to be up to local boards and residents to determine whether they’ll fall by the wayside or continue to augment learning, provide social structure, and allow parents to work.”
Afterschool Ambassador Eric Vanden Heuvel made the case for afterschool funding in a letter to the editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: “It was astonishing to hear the budget chief say that there’s “no demonstrable evidence” that afterschool works ... Study after study has provided evidence that afterschool programs work. They help improve students’ grades and test scores. They help improve attendance and behavior during the regular school day, building blocks of future success. They help develop lifelong habits like physical activity and making healthy choices. They keep kids safe during a time of day when they might otherwise find trouble. They make it possible for their working parents to keep their jobs ... Federal support for afterschool is modest, but crucial. Congress should reject the president’s proposal to cut it.”
The Grand Rapids Board of Education expressed strong opposition to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to public education last week. The board plans to contact Michigan’s U.S. representatives and senators to urge them to reject the budget, which would strip more than $120 million for afterschool programs and teacher training from the state. Grand Rapids Board of Education President Tony Baker told the Grand Rapids Press that it’s the first time he can recall the district formally responding to a proposed federal budget.
As the spring recess comes to DC, many senators and members of Congress will soon be back in their home districts. It’s an opportunity for constituents (like you!) to meet with lawmakers face-to-face and directly communicate the importance of afterschool in their community. Meetings with representatives offer a chance at a meaningful conversation about afterschool and studies have shown that site visits are powerful tools to make the case for afterschool.
Make the most of the recess with a phone call to your representative, asking to set up a district office meeting or a site visit so they can see the incredible work being done in your afterschool program.
- Establish your goals. Are you interested in inviting your representative to visit your afterschool program, or would you prefer to set up a meeting at the representative’s office to discuss your concerns about President Trump’s proposal to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers? Decide on your strategy.
- Find your Senate and House representatives. Click through to your senator or representative’s website to find district office locations in your state—many reps have more than one!
- Get in touch. The best way to communicate with your representative is through a phone call. Phone up the district office nearest to you and make your request. A simple script is all you need: “Hi, my name is [your name] from [your town] and I would like to schedule a meeting with the senator/congressperson to discuss the importance of afterschool funding and share some information about our afterschool program. What is the senator/congressperson’s availability during the spring recess?”
- Prepare for the meeting. Brush up on some talking points. If you decide on a site visit, check out our guide to hosting a successful congressional visit to maximize the impact of the experience. If a district office meeting is more suitable, brush up on your representative’s stance on education and afterschool and prepare some clear questions and requests to help keep the conversation on track.
- Tell the world. If you do manage to schedule a meeting during the recess, we want to hear how it went! Please share your story through our survey tool and be sure to tweet and post on Facebook about the meeting.
- Don’t give up! If your representative’s schedule is too packed to accommodate a visit or meeting in the immediate future, don’t be discouraged! The act of calling your representative sends a powerful message about your concern for and passion about afterschool—as a constituent, this message matters.
Many representatives are very busy during their spring recess, visiting around the state and interacting with constituents—but simply making the phone call is in itself an important way to show where you stand on protecting afterschool resources for kids. Whether you schedule a site visit, attend a district office meeting, or just make a phone call, carving a slice of your representative’s attention for afterschool is one of the best ways to have an impact on their decision-making process.
Looking for more ways to take action? Check out the Take Action to Save Afterschool page for more resources and strategies.
Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015, a great deal has been done to get ready for implementation and a great deal is left to happen (including appropriations) before the law goes into full effect in the 2017-2018 school year. Eighteen states aim to submit state consolidated plans for the April 3 deadline. You can see those states and learn more about their plans, including the proposed student indicators, on our ESSA state map.
The transition to the new presidential administration has resulted in a few changes to the process, mainly in regards to ESSA regulations and to the state consolidated plan template.
On March 27, Trump signed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) legislation rolling back regulations concerning accountability and teacher preparation under ESSA. Those regulations emphasized stakeholder engagement, provided an extended deadline for identification of school support, and set provisions for what types of research could be used in picking a student success and school quality indicator. Individuals supporting the regulations praised the guidelines as offering important clarity and adaptability functions. Others expressed concern that the Department of Education had overreached and been too prescriptive.