How is your afterschool program creating opportunities for disadvantaged youth? There's still time to share your story!
The White House initiative My Brother's Keeper is focused on creating opportunities for boys and young men of color. To help the White House better understand the important role that afterschool programs are playing in supporting boys and young men of color, we've been gathering stories from the field to share with the White House. We may also ask you to share additional details in a guest blog or on a conference call or webinar.
From March 26-28, 2014, the Coalition for Science After School (CSAS) hosted its final summit, Passing the Torch: Advancing Opportunity for Quality Science Learning. The summit was intended to:
- Celebrate a decade of progress in strengthening and expanding STEM learning opportunities in out-of-school time
- Call attention to critical issues in ensuring that all young people have opportunities for quality STEM experiences in their local communities
- Stimulate ideas, strategies, partnerships and commitments to continue to increase opportunities for quality STEM experiences across settings
The report of the summit proceedings, A Call to Action from the 2014 Coalition for Science After School Summit, focuses on 11 areas to continue to advance the STEM in out-of-school time field after CSAS sunset its operations last month.
Michelle Un and Alexis Stern are project managers for the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance, an education initiative of United Way of Rhode Island that leads policy, practice and systems change to ensure that all of Rhode Island’s children and youth have access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities.
Out-of-school time and other expanded learning programs are increasingly recognizing the potential of digital badging to help make learning consequential for their students. In Rhode Island, several organizations, such as the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), have already successfully piloted the use of digital badges with their students and are now entering exciting new phases of development and complexity. While digital badges have great potential to recognize and reward students for their learning within programs, the real value of digital badges is what they mean to the rest of the world, including employers and institutions of higher education. Can statewide badging systems help us to make these connections and meet this need in our states?
Mary Sutton is the executive director for the Michigan After-School Partnership (MASP). MASP provides statewide leadership to build and sustain high quality, after-school programs for children and youth in all communities throughout Michigan.
Don’t you just love it when some of the diverse multitudes of things we work on throughout the year seem to fall into place in a strategic way? Here in Michigan we’re happy to take advantage when there’s a “perfect storm” like that. Like lots of you, we work with many partners to help ensure that all children have the opportunity to experience high-quality and engaging activities to help them become excited and prepared adults, ready for careers and to contribute to their communities. However, exploring ways to connect more strategically with the formal education system and looking for avenues for recognition as imperative partners in helping kids succeed has been a challenge in our work.
Our STEM work over the last several years, facilitated by our Noyce Foundation grant, has created deeper and stronger relationships, and opened avenues of communication to help move these conversations forward. At a time when our governor has proclaimed a need for an education system that recognizes learning “Any time, any place, any space and any pace”—joined with the Department of Education’s focus on competency-based education and Michigan’s recent acceptance as an Achieve state—conversations began focusing on new pathways to help achieve the goal that all students graduate from high school ready for college, careers and citizenship. The premise of Achieve is that by enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems create multiple pathways to graduation, make better use of technology, support new staffing patterns that utilize teacher skills and interests differently, take advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students. This emerging Department of Education interest—joined with our work with the Michigan STEM Partnership and the Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network—gave us the opportunity to combine these conversations into the potential development of a digital badge pilot system that was met with great enthusiasm by everyone.
Liz Nusken is director for the Ohio Afterschool Network, a program of the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, which supports children, youth, families, and communities in Ohio by advocating and building capacity with a unified voice for sustainable investments in safe, healthy, and nurturing afterschool experiences.
Afterschool professionals know that learning takes place at all times of the day and year and in all settings. Digital badges are gaining momentum as a way to recognize learning that takes place in and out of school.
The Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN) is one of five statewide afterschool networks that received a grant from the Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, to pilot a digital badge initiative.
OAN will partner with the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA); Starting Point, the Cleveland-area child care resource and referral agency; and Case Western Reserve University to conduct a pilot project that focuses on digital badges and adult learners.
Bob Seidel is the senior director of strategic initiatives and policy at the National Summer Learning Association. For more ideas on addressing policy makers about summer learning, contact Bob Seidel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer Learning Day is June 20! But you can celebrate it locally anytime during the summer. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the students, educators and their community partners who are making summertime an exciting period of growth and learning.
It’s also an important occasion for calling attention to the challenge that summer learning loss poses to our communities. Mayors, council members, superintendents, principals and other local leaders need to understand that summer learning loss can undermine academic success and, with it, the community’s future, but that expanding summer learning opportunities can support and accelerate education goals.
Our friends at the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) recently published this video discussing the benefits of school district/community collaborations in their area. We hope their experiences can be helpful to you!
Want to get a head start planning your Lights On Afterschool event for this October?
The 2014 National Youth Science Day Experiment, Rockets to the Rescue!, is now available for pre-order at a discounted price of $21.95. Pre-ordered kits will be shipped beginning in mid July, at which time the price will go up to $23.95. Make sure to take full advantage of this discounted rate!
The University of Arizona developed the 2014 National Youth Science Day Experiment: Rockets to the Rescue!. This year, youth will be tasked with one mission: in light of the recent natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, National 4-H Council is asking youth to design and build an aerodynamic food transportation device that can deliver a payload of nutritious food to disaster victims. Youth will learn engineering concepts, develop math skills, learn about nutrition, and help solve a relevant global issue.