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FEB
5
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Free eBook available: The Afterschool Guide to Building English Language Leaners' Literacy

By Guest Blogger

By Heidi Ham, vice president of programs and strategy at National AfterSchool Association.

For the more than 4 million English language learner (ELL) students who attend public schools nationwide, it’s more critical than ever to literacy skill development support both in and out of school.

That’s why the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), in collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance, created “The Afterschool Guide to Building English Language Leaners’ Literacy,” a free eBook filled with valuable information and field-sourced tools and strategies specifically designed for the afterschool environment. Click here to join NAA (for free) and then visit the "Program Resources" tab on the right column.

Afterschool and informal learning programs are ideal opportunities for ELL youth to develop their literacy skills in fun, supportive environments. With strategies ranging from student-run newspapers to initiatives that connect kids with their communities and bring families into the program, the range of education possibilities is limitless!

NAA is proud to offer the Guide to its members. For membership information and to download the eBook visit naaweb.org/membership.

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learn more about: Literacy Partnerships
FEB
2
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"Afterschool is essential for millions of students nationwide each year"

By Guest Blogger

By Ruben Balderas.

Ruben is a senior at Walla Walla High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year.  Ruben has attended 21st Century Community Learning Center funded programs as a student participant for the past seven years, and recently secured a job as a Walla Walla Public School’s afterschool tutor.  Throughout his afterschool journey, Ruben has acquired a number of real-world skills, and has made many friends and professional contacts along the way.

Afterschool is very important to me for many different reasons. It has taught me many different things, including computer programs, videography and cinematography skills, communicating with other people. My afterschool program has also helped me develop different strategies around critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, planning, brainstorming, time and stress management, and leadership. All of these skills learned in afterschool can also be used in a real-world work environment; for me, that would be something in the field of animation or concept art. In both of these fields, it is essential to be able to work and communicate within a team structure in order to produce the best content for the job.

I also use my afterschool skills to help me communicate with my family and friends. Afterschool has taught me to get out of my comfort zone and make new friends; in my program, I have made two really good friends that I am very grateful for meeting and having them be a part of my life. More than just skills related to direct means of communication, I appreciate afterschool for helping me explore other platforms to deliver a message.

Over the past few months, I have created content that not a lot of students can say they’ve done. During my first few months of my term as an ambassador, I helped make a Virtual Reality (VR) environment for our Lights On Afterschool event. In this VR space, you can move around and see all the different afterschool programs we offer from anywhere in the world. Check out the space here. Additionally, I made an introduction video about myself and what my message will be throughout my ambassador term.

Seizing on the excitement and messaging opportunities available to a Youth Afterschool Ambassador, I recently took a trip to Olympia, Wash., our state capital. While I was only there for a short time, the impact was large. I was fortunate enough to share my various afterschool experiences with the Washington State House Committee on Education. I shared with them that Afterschool has taught me essential new skills and changed me positively as a person. The experience was incredible — you can watch my testimony at 13:20-15:37 and 22:53-29:00 on this recording.

During the remainder of my Youth Afterschool Ambassador term, I am going to create a video that features a series of interviews from participants and parents highlighting how afterschool has benefited them, their families, and their community. Just like it has been for me, afterschool is essential for millions of students nationwide each year. I am honored and excited to continue to spread that important message to all who will listen.

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learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Older Youth
JAN
11
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I wanted to create something ... that shared the power and impact of my afterschool program"

By Guest Blogger

By Kaleb Robertson.

Kaleb is a senior at Green Bay West High School and was recently named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador for 2016-17 by the Afterschool Alliance. He has been attending the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay afterschool program for more than five years. This letter outlines his experiences in this program and how they have influenced his path and future successes.

I originally came to the Boys and Girls Club because I had friends who attended. While I initially thought it was just a place to hang out, I quickly learned that the Club had a lot more to offer afterschool and in the summer. Caring staff who serve as mentors, leadership development opportunities, and future planning are just a few of the benefits I have been able to experience. None of these things would have been possible for me if not for my afterschool program.

One of the first programs I joined was the Be Great: Graduate program. ‘Be Great’ is a program that matches a teen with a staff member or ‘graduation coach’. My coach, Greg, has made sure that I have kept good grades and stay safe. He’s someone I know I can talk to, even though he is my formal mentor. And there are lots of other Club staff who have helped me along the way. I am comfortable knowing that whenever I come to the Club, there is always someone I can go to for guidance, support, and advice.

The Club also has great leadership opportunities, including the Keystone Club. Keystone is a program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and practice leadership and community service. Keystone members complete and document service hours, organize fundraisers, and serve as leaders within the Club, even helping to make decisions that impact other kids. I became involved with Keystone since I started coming to Club, and have served as the Keystone President. I even got to attend the National Keystone Conference in 2016!

Besides being a leader, the Club has also helped realize and plan my future. Ms. Tori, the Club’s Graduation Specialist, has helped me stay on track and get my college applications done. Along with helping me plan financially how to stay afloat with my money and pointing me towards many scholarship opportunities, she has also coordinated several campus visits so I have a better idea of what I’m looking for in a college.

For my Youth Ambassador project, I wanted to create something that I could give to people that shared the power and impact my afterschool program has had on me. I will be taking pictures of programs around the Club and turning them into a photo storybook. This way I will not only be able to tell my story to people, but also leave a copy of it behind for them to share with others. 

My afterschool experience has been nothing short of transformational. It has helped me stay on track to graduate and also helped me to realize what my future can look like. Every kid should be able to access the same opportunities that I have. Afterschool programs make a difference!

JAN
5
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Conquering the high school transition with Road Map to Graduation

By Guest Blogger

By Roger Figueroa, program coordinator at Latin American Youth Center - Maryland Multicultural Youth Center. 

The transition for rising ninth graders is one filled with twists, turns, pitfalls, and barriers: the new and often larger environment, changes in academic responsibility, increased number of peer influences, and a new social structure can all be overwhelming. The LAYC-Maryland Multicultural Youth Center Road Map to Graduation program aims to create a supportive pathway for students.

The program seeks to provide wrap-around services to support students during their transition through Road Map workshops, an intensive five-week summer bridge program, after-school academic assistance, individual development plans, case management, and parent engagement.

JAN
4
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town"

By Guest Blogger

By Harli Jo McKinney

Welcome to our new blog series introducing the inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors! Building on the success of the Afterschool Ambassadors program, the Youth Ambassadors program connects five young people with alumni Afterschool Ambassadors to serve as mentors as each Youth Ambassador designs and carries out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, Youth Ambassadors will travel to Washington, D.C., next April to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff. 

My name is Harli Jo McKinney. I am from Stratford, Oklahoma. I am in 9th grade. I am a cheerleader, I play basketball, and I love to sing. I am so excited to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance as a Youth Ambassador. Afterschool has been a big part of my life. Since beginning school, I have always had an afterschool program. It has taught me so much and given me the extra push to be who I am. It has helped to make me a confident and outgoing person.

Stratford is a small town with a population of 1,500 and our school has about 700 students from Stratford and nearby towns. There are not a lot of jobs in our town. Parents have to drive at least 20 to 30 miles to get to their jobs. This leaves their children with nowhere to go afterschool.

Our afterschool program gives these students a place to go. My program helps us with homework and gives us opportunity to experience and learn new things every day. We do really fun things like cooking, photography, gymnastics, and robotics. We are adding a drone class that we are all really excited about.

Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town. It gives our children a safe place to go and parents do not have to worry about them. There need to be more afterschool programs just like mine all over the country!

I would like to showcase the need for afterschool in my Youth Ambassador project. In my video production, I hope to convey the significant difference in rural communities with and without afterschool programs. I am excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador program!

DEC
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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"I want to be a beacon"

By Guest Blogger

By Kevin Hamilton, vice president for communications at the Student Conservation Association.

Welcome to the first post in our new blog series about the vital role that out-of-school time programs play in the social, emotional, and character development that youth need to navigate a complex, interconnected world. This series is made possible through generous support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Ranger Rece and colleauges at the Pittsburgh Parks & Recreation Department

It was about this time last year, at the height of the holiday season, that AmaRece Davis’ email popped up on my screen.

“I just want to thank SCA again,” he wrote, “and let you know that I’m living the dream.”

Few would have predicted that outcome just a few years ago. AmaRece, however, never had a doubt.

Rece, as he’s known, grew up in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. It’s a tough neighborhood. Lots of poverty, lots of crime. By the time Rece was 15, his two older brothers were in prison and, he admits, he was headed in that same direction. Things took a turn that summer, however, when Rece joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA)’s local crew program. SCA, an organization perhaps best known for placing teen and young adult volunteers in places like Yellowstone and Yosemite, also provides opportunities to participate in environmental-focused programs for urban youth in America’s leading cities.

DEC
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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How afterschool can support school meals: 3 activities

By Guest Blogger

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation.This article was original published on December 5, 2017 on the Healthy Out-of-School Time New & Notable blog.

Partnerships between school and afterschool educators are essential to ensure our community health efforts are sustained.

On November 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a new School Meal Flexibility Rule that will weaken nutrition standards aimed at reducing sodium and increasing whole grains for meals provided under the USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Afterschool programs that voluntarily adopted the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity have the potential to be impacted by any weakening of school nutrition standards. In particular, if their school oversees the afterschool snack and meal program.

Below are three ways afterschool leaders can share their voice for healthy school meals while championing the power of afterschool.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper

Shout your hard work creating healthy afterschool from the rooftop! Share the story of how your program is bringing the National AfterSchool Association Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity to life.

Writing and submitting a letter is simpler than you think! Check out Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor.

Submit a comment on the flexibility rule

As someone who works directly with children and families, your voice is important. Share your feedback and questions with the USDA by January 29, 2018 using the online comment form. Five minutes is all it takes to share your essential perspective!

Encourage families to go on a #CafeteriaDate

In addition to these three tips, encourage families to schedule a time to go on a “cafeteria date” with their child. Want to learn more about this campaign and why building a relationship with your school lunchroom is so important? Visit http://www.thelunchtray.com/cafeteriadate/ and share your experience by using the hashtag #cafeteriadate.

DEC
1
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Philadelphia afterschool program uses martial arts to achieve social and emotional learning

By Guest Blogger

By Matt Freeman

“We’re in the business of developing healthy habits of mind and body,” says Dr. Salvatore Sandone, Sensei and CEO of the Zhang Sah Martial Arts. “So we surround our afterschool students with positive role models and work to develop a sense of resilience through social and emotional learning.”

The Philadelphia program puts heavy emphasis on physical exercise and fitness, carving out time for its K-8 students to play at a local park or playground, as well as learning and practicing the martial arts that are the core of the program’s curriculum. Zhang Sah operates at two locations, serving approximately 95 students from eight different schools at each. Children also get a healthy snack every afternoon and spend time doing homework.

The program takes its name from the Korean term for “brave scholar,” and its design embodies a philosophy that combines martial arts with youth development principles. Sandone says the program is structured to value equally the development of mind, body, and character. Instructors are trained to emphasize benevolence, courtesy, humility, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and stewardship. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Program Profiles