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Snacks by Robert Abare
MAY
27
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Women leaders explain how afterschool empowers girls

By Robert Abare

Earlier this month, we told you about the Afterschool Alliance's participation in the #GirlsAre campaign, launched by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation to encourage young girls to live more active lives. The campaign aims to combat damaging trends facing America's girls, like the fact that the total number of minutes girls participate in vigorous physical activity drops by 86 percent netween the ages of 6 and 17.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently published a Q&A with four women leaders in the afterschool field to discuss their personal and professional perspectives on girls' fitness. Considering that over 10 million children across the USA participate in afterschool programs—gaining access to exercise opportunties and healthy foods—afterschool can clearly play a huge role in this movement to level the playing field. 

The Q&A included the Afterschool Alliance's Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives, Tiereny Lloyd. "Since afterschool programs are attended by boys and girls evenly, the afterschool setting is a great opportunity to provide inclusive co-ed physical activity opportunities," she said.

Click here to read more!

It's not too late to tell the world who you think #GirlsAre! Use the campaign hashtag on social media to share what girls are accomplishing near you.

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learn more about: Equity Guest Blog Health and Wellness
MAY
25
2016

CHALLENGE
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You took the Challenge, and Congress listened!

By Robert Abare

On Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, the 15th annual Afterschool for All Challenge brought more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country to Washington, D.C. for two days of learning, advocating, and celebrating out-of-school time programs. Thanks to the collaboration and enthusiasm of these participants—supported by messages to Congress sent from advocates nationwide—this year's Challenge was a huge success! 

Here are the amazing accomplishments of this year's Challenge:

  • More than 150 participants from 36 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • More than 160 visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, many of which were attended by Members of Congress.
  • Workshops on the latest in afterschool, including child nutrition reauthorizationadvocacy during election season, and afterschool in rural America.
  • A panel discussion and Q&A with staffers of Members of Congress who played a key role in supporting afterschool programs in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • An Afterschool Showcase on Capitol Hill, featuring performances and demonstrations by local and national afterschool programs, and remarks by Senators and Representatives who championed out-of-school time programs in Congress.
  • Nearly 800 messages sent to Congress by participants of the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge.
MAY
19
2016

CHALLENGE
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Amplify afterschool voices on Capitol Hill

By Robert Abare

Participants from 2014's Afterschool for All Challenge meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Next Tuesday, May 24, more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country will descend on Capitol Hill for the 2016 Afterschool for All Challenge. This year's Challenge participants will build support for afterschool among national legislators at a critical time, as Congress prepares to determine funding levels for the only federal funding source for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers inititative.

Here's what we have planned for this year's Challenge:

Join the excitement! Take the Virtual Challenge

You can play a major role in boosting the voice of advocates visiting Congress by taking the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge in your community.

Right now, you can help the most by sending a message to your representatives, asking them to increase funding levels for 21st CCLC by $133 million for FY2017, bringing the total to $1.3 billion and allowing 140,000 additional children to access afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.

In just a single click, you can add your voice to our Thunderclap, which sends a syncronized blast of messages supporting afterschool on social media. If you're seeking a deeper way to get involved—and a lasting impact for your community—learn about setting up a site visit to your program.

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MAY
17
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Innovation Zone

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this Afterschool Spotlight, part of a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Click here to view the previous installment. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For Levi Myers, a 16-year-old 10th grader at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV, life revolves around music. He’s started bands with his friends—playing everything from punk to reggae—and he has a dream of becoming a professional music critic one day.

Levi didn’t initially think that his high school’s afterschool program, SPARC (which stands for Spartans Collective), could help him further explore his love for music. “When I first heard about the program, I thought it would be sitting around and staring at books,” he said.

One of the guitars designed by students in the Innovation Zone afterschool program.

Instead, through SPARC’s classes in guitar building, Levi found his initial assumption was far from accurate. “The guitar classes were really fun,” he said. “They also taught me about the inside mechanics of guitars, soldering, circuitry and how to get stuff done on time.”

The SPARC program is part of a larger afterschool program of Greenbrier County Public Schools, funded by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Innovation Zone program. The afterschool program, which operates at two middle school and one high school, has two focuses: academic achievement and entrepreneurship. The Innovation Zone afterschool program is in the process of seeking additional support from the federal government’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative.

The Innovation Zone program supports students’ academic achievement through tutoring, ACT and SAT preparation, and credit recovery for struggling students. Last year, 37 students successfully graduated thanks to the credit recovery and failure prevention aspects of the program.

Vicky Cline, Director of Technology and Testing for Greenbrier County Schools and a leader of the program, explained that the programs’ entrepreneurial focus allows students to discover practical ways to apply the lessons they learn in school. “The goal is for students to gain business and interpersonal skills that they can use later in life,” she said. “We want our participants to realize that they can become major contributors to West Virginia’s economy, and that they can help our community become more self-sufficient.”

MAY
12
2016

CHALLENGE
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Q&A: How I pulled off a successful site visit at my afterschool program

By Robert Abare

Congressman Tom Cole meets with kids at Crooked Oak Elementary School in Oklahoma City.

Kim Templeman is an Afterschool Ambassador, principal of Crooked Oak Elementary in Oklahoma City, OK, and director of Success Through Responsive Enrichment and Mentoring (STREAM), a 21st CCLC afterschool program. Last month, the program hosted a visit by United States Congressman Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma’s 4th district.

Want to plan a site visit to your program? Take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge today!

Q: How did you lay the groundwork for Congressman Cole’s visit to your program?

A: I contacted the Congressman’s office through standard means: through the contact information provided on his website. I first called his office and left a message, and then followed up with a few emails. I also reached out to our other representatives at the state and national level, but I found Congressman’s Cole’s office was most receptive.

Initially, we hosted an visit with Congressman Cole’s field representative Will McPherson from his regional office in Norman, OK. After his visit, Will said he would try his best to arrange a visit with the Congressman.

Q: How did you kick off your site visit with Congressman Cole?

A: I started the site visit by providing the Congressman with some information about the state of afterschool programming in Oklahoma, which I found through the Afterschool Alliance's America After 3PM website. I explained to the Congressman how we rely on a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and how we use these funds to provide a number of services to our students, parents and community four days per week, like hands-on academic enrichment that supplements lessons from the school day.

Q: How did the students respond to Congressman Cole’s visit?

A: I explained to the students how lucky they were to receive a visit from a United States Congressman—I certainly never had an experience like this when I was their age! During Congressman Cole’s visit I also quizzed the students on their recent lessons regarding the legislative branch and Congress, which was a great way for the Congressman to see the students’ learning in action, and also for the students to see their lessons come to life.

MAY
9
2016

IN THE FIELD
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#GirlsAre campaign inspires girls to live active lives

By Robert Abare

Girls today in the United States are far less likely than boys to achieve recommended amounts of physical activity. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. The Afterschool Alliance is joining the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation in a national effort to shine a light on the disparities between girls’ and boys’ physical activity rates—and inspire a new generation of strong, active women.

In coordination with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, the #GirlsAre campaign launched on Mother’s Day and runs until May 31. The campaign asks girls and women across the country to demonstrate the myriad ways girls show their strength using the #GirlsAre hashtag. You can chime in on social media by sharing who you think #GirlsAre, like #GirlsAre Strong, #GirlsAre Bold, #GirlsAre Leaders, or #GirlsAre Fearless.

"Between the ages of 6 and 17, the total number of minutes girls participate in vigorous physical activity drops by 86 percent, providing fewer opportunities for girls to get healthy, be healthy, and feel confident and empowered,” says Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Board Member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “This sharp decline is staggering and absolutely preventable—and we must work to do all we can to support more opportunities for girls to engage in meaningful and fun physical activity throughout childhood and adolescence."

Visitors to the campaign website, www.girlsare.org, can find tools to raise awareness of this important issue, take interactive quizzes, and add their own #GirlsAre adjective to join the nationwide conversation.  

Here are more ways to get involved!

MAY
3
2016

CHALLENGE
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10 reasons to take the Virtual Challenge this month

By Robert Abare

Nebraska State Senator David Schnoor visits the Linden Leopards Afterschool Program

As you might have heard, afterschool advocates from across the country are flocking to Washington, D.C. on May 23 to participate in the Afterschool for All Challenge, when they’ll be sharing powerful stories to boost support for afterschool among national legislators. Throughout May, we’re encouraging everyone to get involved closer to home via the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge.

Here are the top ten reasons to participate!

  1. Gain powerful allies for your program. Hosting a site visit with a local official or leader is a great way to cultivate an influential relationship with someone who may be able to pave the way for new sources of funding or more favorable local policies.
  2. Reveal your program’s worth. Hosting a site visit is also great way to show off the accomplishments of your program—from teaching kids new skills to keeping them safe and out of trouble.  Local leaders will remember the demonstrated value of your program when making important decisions in the future!
  3. Get the media talking about your program. If the local press agrees to attend and cover your site visit by a local leader, their coverage will help broadcast to your community what your program does every day and how it helps kids and working families. Seeing a local official in attendance will show readers or viewers that leaders value your program’s importance, too.
  4. Get your program published. Hosting a site visit that gets media coverage helps elevate out-of-school time as an issue in the minds of voters and candidates, which can build a critical foundation for making out-of-school time programs an election issue this November. If you’re not hosting a site visit, you can also grab the public’s attention by writing a letter to the editor or publishing a blog post.
  5. Make noise on social media. You can get people talking about your program on social media through a number of ways. Check out our helpful social media kit, or join our Thunderclap before May 23rd to help send a synchronized blast of messages in support of afterschool.
  6. Gather new followers. By making an effective push on Twitter, Facebook or other platforms for the Virtual Challenge, your program can gain new followers, who in turn will stay up-to-date on your program’s events, news and needs.
  7. Ensure funding for afterschool. By hosting a local site visit for the Virtual Challenge, you help the Afterschool Alliance demonstrate broad public support for afterschool and summer learning programs, and make the case for robust federal funding for these programs. You can get involved today by writing messages to your representatives through our action center.
  8. Teach kids important lessons. Hosting a site visit—or getting involved in afterschool advocacy in general—can be a great way for kids to learn about our nation’s government, elections and legislative process. Show them why it matters to get involved!
  9. Set the stage for future visits. After you host a successful site visit, first pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Then be sure to send your local leader a thank you note, and he or she—or even their successor—may keep your program in mind when planning events or site visits in the future!
  10. Have fun! Participating in the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge is a great way to celebrate the learning and enrichment that occurs in out-of-school time programs. No matter how you decide to participate, have fun and encourage others to share your appreciation for afterschool! 
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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Events and Briefings
APR
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: The LOVE Club

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this Afterschool Spotlight, part of a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For 12 years, Dr. A. Michael Shaw earned praise for his work as an educator and mentor in his hometown of New Orleans, even earning the honor of Teacher of the Year. After Hurricane Katrina’s devastating arrival in 2005, however, he made the difficult decision to make a new start in St. Louis. But while some things change, other stay the same—his commitment to helping disadvantaged youth remained strong.

“I realized that young people need help everywhere,” said Dr. Shaw. “They all face the same challenges, and they all need the confidence to believe in themselves.”

Dr. Shaw, who is currently Dean of Students at Jennings Junior High School in St. Louis, brought with him from New Orleans the concept for an afterschool program to show kids the world of possibilities one can achieve through education, hard work and self-confidence. The Lifting Our Valuable Esteem (LOVE) Club currently works toward this goal as a part of the Jennings School District’s “Stars and Heroes” afterschool program, which is funded by a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The Stars and Heroes program also offers a number of other opportunities for students after school, from golf to robotics.

The LOVE Club focuses on encouraging kids to think beyond their current circumstances and reach for new possibilities by introducing them to professional adults from various walks of life. Visitors to the LOVE Club have included attorneys, doctors, policemen, business leaders and restaurant owners, all of whom engaged in lively Q&A sessions with the participants.

“The speakers share with the kids what they do, what it takes to do what they do, and what students should focus on in school in order to get a job like theirs one day,” Dr. Shaw explained.