Does your afterschool program provide service-learning opportunities? Now through Nov. 4, middle- and high-school students who volunteer can apply for 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The program honors students in grades 5-12 who make meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service. Top honorees earn cash prizes and all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events.
Over the past 19 years, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to more than 100,000 middle and high school students across the country for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, and serving their communities through many other volunteer activities. Today, the search begins to identify thousands more who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the awards program kicks off its 20th year.
We know that students who miss too much school suffer academically at every age and every grade. Equally important, we know absenteeism is a problem we can solve if districts and schools identify the students most at risk and then work with parents and community partners, like afterschool programs, to turn around attendance and achievement. Research has shown that regular attendance at an afterschool program helps to improve school day attendance. Afterschool programs are also important partners in engaging parents and offering needed supports to students and families that may help to combat chronic absenteeism.
A new toolkit from Attendance Works, The Power of Positive Connections, calls for using absenteeism records from past years and from the first month of school to connect the most at-risk students to personal relationships and positive supports—the kind they receive every day in high-quality afterschool programs—that motivate them to show up to class every day.
As students head back to school, the toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to a data-driven strategy and resources known as PEOPLE—Priority Early Outreach through Positive Linkages and Engagement.
|Read more about Ashley's afterschool experience in America's Afterschool Storybook.|
This year we had thousands of afterschool artists answer our call and submit artwork for the chance to be featured on the 2014 Lights On Afterschool poster. We had such a good time looking through all the artwork and seeing the talent and creativity coming out of these programs—it’s clear that these artists really love their afterschool programs!
After much consideration, we’re pleased to announce the 2014 Lights On Afterschool poster contest winner: Ashley Parker from Farmington, New Mexico!
Ashley says she was inspired to draw a bright, Broadway-style marquee sign with lots of color and doodles around it. We think it’s the perfect way to promote your event and let your community know that the lights are ON afterschool!
The artwork will be printed on 70,000 posters and sent to all registered Lights On Afterschool events to help them promote their events. Get yours now! Register your event to receive 10 free posters.
George Garrow is the executive director of Concerned Black Men National.
This week, the CBM Summer Camp Experience comes to an end. Concerned Black Men National sponsors a “camp” for low-income elementary school kids in the nation’s capital every year. The children who attend the five week, day-long sessions come from families whose parents otherwise might not be able to afford to send their kids to a summer program that offers free meals, safety and structure, and equally important, a quality out-of-school-time experience. The young people in our program are wide-eyed and curious about the world like those who attend summer camps throughout the country. They join the tens of thousands of children who attend a variety of camps or similar events during the summer months.
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.
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.