Are you “Speaking Up” about digital learning this year? If not, you're missing a unique opportunity to have your views—as well as the views of your colleagues, students, their parents and the local community—included in the increasingly important U.S. national and state discussions on digital learning policies, programs and funding.
The Afterschool Alliance is proud to announce a special partnership with Project Tomorrow this year to encourage participation of afterschool organizations in their online research project Speak Up. The Speak Up National Research Project annually collects and reports on the authentic, unfiltered views of K–12 students, parents and educators about critical digital age education and technology issues. Since 2003, more than 3 million K–12 education stakeholders have shared their ideas about ed tech through the Speak Up online surveys. And we need your ideas too!
This year, for the first time, Project Tomorrow will be providing an additional online survey for community members. Local employers, after school providers, school board members and homeowners without children in the local schools can now provide their views on the role of technology in preparing students for the jobs and careers of the 21st century. This new set of data will provide valuable insights for the participating organizations as well as state and federal policymakers on the importance of digital tools and resources for college and career readiness.
Every year, Lights On Afterschool provides an opportunity for communities around the country to celebrate the many different ways that afterschool programs help to enrich children’s lives. These programs help kids see themselves as athletes, artists, scientists, musicians, engineers and much more. This year, to help us highlight the important role of afterschool in supporting STEM education, we’re partnering with4-H to link Lights On Afterschool with 4-H National Youth Science Day.
This is one part of our larger effort to support opportunities for more young people, especially those from populations under-represented in STEM fields, to explore and engage in STEM learning. The Afterschool Alliance is committed to advancing afterschool STEM education through our work focused around field-building; research; and advocacy, policy, and communications. That’s why we’re so thrilled to have partners like 4-H, which have been at the forefront of exposing young people to STEM learning opportunities for more than 100 years.
4-H National Youth Science Day seeks to spark early youth interest and leadership in STEM careers in an effort to keep America competitive in those fields. On Oct. 9, millions of young people will become scientists for the day by participating in a national science experiment. The 4-H Maps and Apps Experiment includes a set of activities that will turn young people into geospatial thinkers as they design and map their ideal park, use GIS mapping to solve community problems and contribute data about their community to the United States Geological Survey.
On July 10, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT, the Afterschool Alliance will join the National League of Cities (NLC) for a webinar about the potential impact of proposed changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program.
As Congress considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), proposed legislation would have important implications for the 21st CCLC program—the only source of federal funding dedicated specifically to supporting afterschool. This webinar is intended to help municipal leaders better understand the potential impact that these proposals could have on their communities and how to best position themselves to be ready for them.
Participants will learn about the implications for cities, as well as the impact that sequestration cuts will have on other key education and afterschool program funding sources. The webinar will also provide insight into the national discussion around expanded learning opportunities and extended learning time.
After the webinar, @YEFInstitute and @afterschool4all will keep the #OSTPolicy discussion going on Twitter, where other city leaders will be tweeting questions and comments about federal afterschool policy proposals. Join us by using the #OSTPolicy hashtag.
Join us on Thurs., May 9 at 2 p.m. EDT as we discuss the role that afterschool programs can play in addressing youth violence.
According to a nationally-representative survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 3 high school youth reported being in a physical fight within a 12 month period, and 1 in 6 high school youth reported carrying a weapon on one or more days within a 30 day period. These alarming statistics underscore the need for quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Providing an outlet for positive self-expression, access to caring adult mentors, and a community of supportive peers has been proven to be a winning formula for curbing aggressive behavior and empowering youth to be agents of change in their communities.
This webinar will highlight specific violence prevention strategies and federal funding streams for afterschool programs engaging in this work. Carleen Wray, executive director of the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), will discuss how to empower youth to make their schools and communities safer through crime prevention tactics, conflict management and service projects. Ben Forman, executive director of Teens Run DC, will also discuss how the combination of mentoring and a distance running program encourages positive youth behaviors by helping them work toward personal goals.
This month we’re putting the spotlight on two of our grant opportunities for afterschool programs: the well-known MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Awards and the new Noyce Foundation Afterschool STEM Impact Awards. Afterschool STEM programs can apply for an Impact Award now until May 15. The Innovator Awards nomination process has been moved to later this year—stay tuned for further details and key dates. These webinars will introduce you to both grant opportunities, complete with tips about the application and selection process.
Afterschool Innovators & Middle School Success
April 25, 3:00 – 4:00 PM EDT
Since 2008, the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation have collaborated to highlight and expand the work of innovative afterschool programs supporting children, families and communities across the nation. Now in the fifth year of the partnership, we have awarded more than $160,000 to programs in a variety of categories, including digital learning, school alignment, service-learning, middle school bullying and college readiness. Join us to learn more about last year’s MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award winners and hear helpful tips about the selection process. Register now!
Afterschool STEM Impact Award Insights
April 30, 1:00 – 1:30 PM EDT
The Afterschool Alliance recently announced a new national award for afterschool programs offering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – the Afterschool STEM Impact Awards, sponsored by the Noyce Foundation. This year’s award categories are focused on partnership models, and computing and/or engineering. This webinar will be incredibly useful to potential applicants as we will discuss the intentions behind creating the Afterschool STEM Impact awards and what we’ll be looking for in the review process. The Afterschool Alliance team will also address the definitions used for the award categories. Participants will have the opportunity to ask any questions they might have to help craft a winning application! Register now!
As a part of our ongoing effort to share resources and explore the issues that impact the afterschool community, we’re facilitating two new webinars this month. We hope that you’ll be able to join us as we discuss the role of library partnerships in 21st century learning and share the results of a recent study on appropriate youth outcomes for afterschool STEM programs.
Our webinar series brings together practitioners, researchers, afterschool advocates and leaders from around the country to discuss a variety of topics. To receive updates about upcoming webinars, we encourage you to create a free account with us. It’s easy to do and, once you register, you'll be given unlimited access to watch archived recordings and join live webinars with one click.
We also welcome your ideas for any topics you would like to see addressed in future webinars! Share your suggestions in the comments below, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the descriptions of our upcoming webinars below.
Tuesday, March 12 at 1:00-2:00 PM EDT
The New Normal: Libraries as Partners in 21st Century Learning
Help us celebrate Teen Tech Week by joining our guest panel for a discussion about how public libraries—in partnership with youth-serving organizations—can be key allies in providing digitally-rich programming for teens and middle school youth. Our guest speakers will share how they are engaging teens in fresh and innovative ways, leveraging library partnerships to achieve shared goals and providing staff development and training. Register now!
Thursday, March 21 at 1:00-1:30 PM EDT
Defining Youth Outcomes of STEM in Afterschool
As STEM learning opportunities in afterschool programs expand rapidly, providers are being asked to clearly articulate their impacts by both funders and policy makers. This webinar will discuss a recent study that asked expert afterschool practitioners, funders, and state education policy makers to define appropriate and feasible outcomes for youth in afterschool STEM programs. Register now!
This month, the Illinois Humanities Council launched a national competition that offers a total of $100,000 in prize money for short, provocative media pieces that tell a story about why government is important to our lives, or how we might collectively strengthen American democracy. The competition is open to anyone—including youth of all ages—with creative ideas and a desire to inspire change.
One of the findings in our recent issue brief, Digital Media and Learning in Afterschool, was that many afterschool providers are using technology to put a new twist on an old idea. Cyberactivism, as it's frequently called, supports civic engagement by leveraging digital media to explore the social issues that matter to youth in their local and global communities. Often, afterschool programs use this type of strategy as a tool to empower youth to think critically, behave responsibly and participate actively in our digital world. YTECH Civic Voice Curriculum programs, which are also featured in our issue brief, are just one example of how afterschool providers can embrace the concept of cyberactivism.
Considering that the afterschool community plays such a big role in promoting civic and political engagement among youth, we are partnering with the Illinois Humanities Council to encourage afterschool providers to get involved in the Looking@Democracy competition. Digital submissions might include compelling short videos, funny audio clips, satirical animations, music videos, public service announcements or graphic art. Creativity is encouraged and all types of digital media submissions are welcome! Make sure to submit your work by April 30. For more information about contest rules and how to apply, visit the contest website.