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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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Snacks by Leah Silverberg
NOV
28
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Promising practices: EVOLUTIONS prepares students for college and careers

By Leah Silverberg

Afterschool programs across the country are working with students to prepare them for future jobs. Of programs focusing on high school students, we see students getting real-world job experiences in afterschool, including paid internships, professional development training, practice building skills they will need in the workforce, and exposure to colleges and possible future career pathways. One of the programs highlighted in our latest issue brief, Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool, Evoking Learning and Understanding Through Investigations in the Natural Sciences (EVOLUTIONS) does all of this and more with their students. While talking with the program’s manager of public and youth engagement, Andrea Motto, we were impressed not only with what EVOLUTIONS does with its students, but how. 

EVOLUTIONS is located in New Haven, Conn., and is a part of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. The program was created in 2005 in response to community focus groups identifying that the museum could do a better job engaging with the local community. As part of these focus groups, the community expressed that they did not view the museum as a resource that was accessible to them. Listening to these community concerns, EVOLUTIONS was born. By starting with youth, the museum could invest in bridging the gap, bringing youth into the museum in an attempt to increase community access.

NOV
13
2017

RESEARCH
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New report: Making summer learning a district-wide priority

By Leah Silverberg

Summer learning programs across the country are providing students with valuable opportunities to learn. However, for students from low-income families, quality learning opportunities can be sparse, and students from low-income communities lose more ground academically over their summer than their more affluent peers. Supporting summer learning, and making these programs a priority for school districts, can make a difference for these students year-round. Taking support for these programs to a district level and prioritizing summer learning can help ensure program quality, sustainability, and increase community buy-in.  

In an effort to support summer learning programs, The Wallace Foundation launched the National Summer Learning Project (NSLP) across five school districts nationwide in 2011. Evaluating the NSLP programs, RAND has explored outcomes for students participating in summer learning programs. Digging deeper, Making Summer Last: Integrating Summer Programming into Core District Priorities and Operations, a new report from The Wallace Foundation and RAND, explores how three of the school districts participating in NSLP integrated summer learning into their district priorities. The report evaluates interviews with district staff members and summer leadership staff involved in summer programming and highlights their recommendations for making summer a district-wide priority. Here are the report’s three main takeaways, including challenges, to integrate and prioritize summer learning programs into your school district:

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learn more about: Summer Learning
NOV
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Apply to join a new professional learning community!

By Leah Silverberg

The One Sky Institute is looking for mid-career professionals to engage with and explore new approaches to implementing and evaluating equitable STEM programming. Mentored by an experienced faculty of practitioners and researchers, participants will learn to broaden participation in STEM in their fields and come together as a community of professionals dedicated to increasing equity in the STEM ecosystem.

Scope of community activities:

  • A three-day workshop in Chicago, Ill., March 27 to 29, 2018
  • Six 90-minute virtual meetings throughout the year
  • Participation in the 2019 AERA conference in Toronto, April 5 to 9
  • Design and development of a mini-pilot project at your organization
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learn more about: Professional Development
OCT
27
2017

RESEARCH
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Creating high-quality arts programs in national youth-serving organizations

By Leah Silverberg

While research has shown that participation in the arts promotes positive youth outcomes, providing quality arts programming can seem like an unobtainable goal to many programs, especially those that mix various art disciplines into daily programming but do not have an arts focus. But a new report commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, Raising the Barre & Stretching the Canvas, shows that high-quality arts programming for multidisciplinary out-of-school time programs is obtainable — and how.

How do you provide quality arts programming?

With the goal of helping to improve and expand high-quality arts programming, The Wallace Foundation partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to create and pilot the Youth Arts Initiative (YAI) in Milwaukee (Wis.), Green Bay (Wis.), and St. Cloud (Minn.). The YAI drew from ten key principles of high-quality arts programming outlined in the 2013 study, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts: professional practicing artists, executive commitment, dedicated spaces, high expectations, culminating events, positive relationships, youth input, hands-on skill building, community engagement, and physical and emotional safety. With these principles in mind, the YAI programs:

  1. Hired practicing artists as staff.
  2. Created dedicated studio spaces for the arts.
  3. Supplied the tools and materials needed for the program’s art discipline.
  4. Engaged students in decision-making throughout the creation and execution of the program.
  5. Emphasized positive youth development principles.
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learn more about: Arts Partnerships
OCT
17
2017

STEM
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New AYPF article: 3 steps to afterschool STEM success

By Leah Silverberg

When making the case for afterschool STEM, one point often pops up: STEM learning experiences teach kids essential skills for their futures in college and careers. But how does that skill-building actually happen? And what strategies should afterschool programs use to harness it?

A new article from the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) highlights afterschool STEM programs that focus on career and college exploration initiatives. As part of STEM Ready America compendium, which features more than 40 authors, “Career and College Exploration in Afterschool Programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” provides examples of afterschool and summer learning STEM programs that are preparing youth for their futures and supporting their engagement with the STEM field. Developed by STEM Next, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, STEM Ready America discusses the importance of access for quality STEM programs, the evidence behind these programs, and the partnerships that make STEM learning successful.

In the article, AYPF highlights the best practices of three afterschool and summer STEM programs that intentionally introduce students to STEM fields, prepare them to study or have a career in a STEM field, and build skills that will benefit them in the workforce. Looking at SHINE (Jim Thorpe, Pa.), EVOLUTIONS (New Haven, Conn.), and Project Exploration (Chicago, Ill.) AYPF concluded that successful programs:

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learn more about: STEM College and Career Readiness
SEP
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Building Community between Police and Youth recap

By Leah Silverberg

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnershipstools for working with school resource officers, and a Lights On Afterschool event that forged a new relationship with law enforcement. 

In the past year we have been developing our “Tools to Build On” webinar series to help equip afterschool and summer providers with resources for supporting students through the complex issues that have been facing our country and impacting youth. Thus far, the series has highlighted topics such as supporting immigrant students and their families,  understanding and responding to incidents of bias, and addressing tough conversations with students in a safe space. As part of this series, we also spoke with afterschool and police professionals to discuss how communities can come together through afterschool and police partnerships.

Afterschool programs and police keep the communities they serve safe. Building off of this mutual goal, partnership between afterschool programs and law enforcement can strengthen the efforts of programs, departments, and their communities. This is especially important given recent headlines surrounding tensions between police and communities of color. To discuss how afterschool programs and law enforcement can work together, we spoke with Jacalyn Swink, a lead teacher in Iowa’s Burlington Community School District; Major Darren Grimshaw from the Burlington Police Department; and Marcel Braithwaite, director of Community Engagement from the New York City Police Athletic League (PAL). Our speakers shared ways to approach partnerships with local law enforcement and successes that they have had in their programs with these partnerships. Here’s what we talked about:

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learn more about: Afterschool & Law Enforcement Safety
SEP
21
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Library partnerships help keep the Lights On Afterschool

By Leah Silverberg

All across America, afterschool programs love their libraries! According to a 2017 study of more than 350 afterschool programs, nearly three-quarters reported that they were working with their local public library in diverse ways, from literacy initiatives to book lending programs and STEM activities. Those informal learning relationships deserve to be featured, and that’s why one of the major themes of this year’s Lights On Afterschool is library partnerships!

As you write your invitations, be sure to invite staff from your local library to participate in your Lights On Afterschool event. Here are a few possibilities for featuring the library in your celebration:

  • Reach out and ask the library if you can host your celebration there; libraries often serve as valuable community meeting places
  • Encourage librarians to promote and attend your event
  • Invite library staff to read to your students or work at an in-event library card sign-up booth as part of your event

If you’re not already in partnership with a library, it can be difficult to imagine the full spectrum of benefits that close collaboration can produce. But just as afterschool isn’t exclusively limited to child care, libraries aren’t just places for books and study! One of our Lights On Afterschool partners, STAR_Net, is working to connect science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities with local public libraries. The results are impressive!

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learn more about: STEM Lights On Afterschool
SEP
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Girls Who Code Clubs: Prepare girls in your community for the future

By Leah Silverberg

Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech, wants to work with you! Through their afterschool Clubs Program, 6th-12th grade girls use computer science to impact their community and join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models. Clubs can be hosted by many kinds of youth-serving organizations, including schools, community centers, faith-based organizations, universities, libraries, and other nonprofits.

All materials from Girls Who Code are provided for free, including:

  • 120+ hours of curriculum, activity sets, and an online learning management system
  • Recruitment materials, including student, and volunteer flyers
  • Program management support, including field trip and grant opportunities
  • Facilitator trainings, resources, and real-time support

 

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science Girls