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 email@example.com. 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.
This year, we’ve teamed up with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as a national partner of Lights on Afterschool. The mission of IMLS is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Whereas many of us have memories of our neighborhood library providing a setting for solitary (and preferably quiet) learning opportunities, today’s youth are being introduced to an entirely different experience that is vibrant and—dare I say—cool.
For older youth especially, these bedrocks of the community are evolving into destinations for hands-on, collaborative and informal learning. They are undergoing a 21st century makeover and, in the process, taking a more active role in supporting children's learning and development in the hours after school. Through a mixture of in-house and outreach programs, museums and libraries are a hub for strategic community partnerships that extend beyond the walls of their buildings.
Take for example the 21st century learning labs that are being piloted in a dozen libraries located in major cities around the country. Based onnew research about how young people learn and modeled after YOUmedia Chicago, these learning labs will use both digital and traditional media to build the skills and competencies that youth need to be successful in the 21st century. While these spaces will be intentionally designed to provide an unstructured environment for teens to explore interests and collaborate with peers, they’ll also involve partnerships with local educational, cultural and civic organizations to build a network of learning opportunities for young people. In the case of YOUmedia, this means tapping into community partners to lead skill-building workshops that range from one-time to multi-week sessions.
This post was written by Melissa Ballard, our new STEM Research Assistant, reflecting on her first week at the Afterschool Alliance.
As I enter my second week at the Afterschool Alliance, I can hardly believe just 10 days ago I was gearing up for another busy season of programs at a science center in Lansing, MI. During my three and a half years at Impression 5 Science Center, I mixed up gallons of slime, built rollercoasters, programmed video games, exploded random objects in the microwave, and other seriously fun experiments. Working directly with kids and a team of passionate educators has allowed me to understand what effective STEM education looks like.
While I truly love developing programs and facilitating STEM experiences for kids, I am excited to join the Afterschool Alliance to advocate for STEM learning in the afterschool setting on a national scale. In my new position as the STEM research assistant, I hope my experience and passion for informal science education will enhance my work here.
Amidst the bustle of the standard “new job” to-do’s, like getting to know my co-workers, catching up on current projects, and learning all I can about the organization, one event stood out. On my second day, Anita Krishnamurthi, our director of STEM policy, brought me to the Hart Senate Office Building for the 100 Women Leaders in STEM celebration hosted by STEM Connector. As we stood in the audience, I watched an impressive group of women honored for their role in mentoring and advocating for young women in STEM fields. I must admit, I was a bit in awe of all the accomplished women in the room, but seeing so many gathered in support of a cause I feel strongly about was an inspiration—both personally and professionally.
If my first week at the Afterschool Alliance is any indication, then I am in for a fantastic experience, and I am looking forward to getting to know the field and working to make afterschool a “must have” partner in STEM education!
Digital Learning Now! (DLN) recently released a report that addresses strategies for funding the shift to digital learning. According to the report, there are three potential strategies that school districts may pursue to invest in technology and increase student access. These include the use of subsidies that enable parents to purchase devices at discounted rates, offering state- and district-provided devices that are loaned to students, and the use of a mixed funding model that combines the above strategies with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy.
For afterschool providers, who are already struggling with funding shortfalls and limited resources, the challenge of increasing student access is especially daunting. Yet, the growth of digital learning in afterschool spaces is quietly gaining steam as afterschool providers take advantage of alternative ways to leverage technology. Some of these providers are engaging youth through connected learning, a model of learning that brings together student interests and peer culture with academic content, often through the use of technology. The result is relevant, hands-on and innovative programming that engages youth by “connecting” their in-school and out-of-school experiences.
To offer technology enhanced connected learning, some afterschool programs rely on the spill-over effect of one-to-one laptop and tablet initiatives led by states and school districts. As demonstrated by the Digital Learning Now! Smart Series, more students are beginning to gain access to devices that they can bring home and use in afterschool settings. Although many afterschool programs serve student populations from disadvantaged and low-income school districts with limited technology, these one-to-one initiatives can be achieved at surprisingly low per-pupil expenditures. The Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD) in North Carolina, for example, was cited in the DLN report as achieving a 1-to-1 ratio of laptops to students for only $1.25 per student per day. As more school districts—particularly in low-income neighborhoods—are able to achieve similar cost efficiencies, the afterschool programs that serve those districts will be able to benefit from the technology that follows the students.