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In the Field Snacks
MAR
23
2017

IN THE FIELD
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How to use data to improve program quality: your staff holds the key

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Nicole Lovecchio, Chief Program Officer at WINGS for kids.

As afterschool providers, we know that the hours from 3 to 6 p.m. offer an incredible opportunity to engage students who need it most and help them feel more connected to their peers, the school day, and to their community—and the key to maximizing that potential lies in the skills and abilities of the afterschool staff.

For many years we worked on codifying and documenting every element and detail of our program. We created manuals explaining how we ran our social and emotional learning (SEL) afterschool program in an effort to replicate our program throughout several sites in the Southeast. We then focused heavily on fidelity and the implementation of these program elements.

Along the way, we realized that a checklist of items, however exact, couldn’t guarantee a high-quality program.  By gathering data on our staff and kids, we were able to see the shift that was needed: clearer focus on building up the skills of our staff on the ground.

3 ways data collected impacted program quality

Improving adult skills and practices. Quarterly program assessments (observations) of our sites uncovered a trend indicating that our staff (12 college-aged mentors per site who work in 1:12 ratio with students) were primarily focused on reacting to the negative behaviors of our kids. Because our staff was reactive instead of proactive, there was little room for engaging activity.  Therefore, we redesigned staff trainings and redefined the WINGS approach to SEL, all with a focus on building adult skills and practices first and foremost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Youth Development
MAR
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: First-of-its-kind video series helps afterschool providers talk to kids about abuse

By Rachel Clark

By John Thoresen, CEO of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

More than one in six children suffer from physical abuse, and one in 10 children will be sexually abused—often by someone they know and trust. Yet, in spite of these shocking statistics, there have historically been few resources available to help afterschool providers talk with children about abuse.

That’s why we worked with nationally-recognized child advocates, educators, therapists and scholars to create the “Protect Yourself Rules” videos—a free, first-of-its-kind educational series. We engaged an executive of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats to develop the videos for children using non-threatening, animated characters similar to what they’re used to seeing outside the classroom on electronic devices, television and movie screens.

The animated videos educate school-aged children in grades K-6 about what to do when confronted with an abusive situation by emphasizing three simple rules: Shout. Run. Tell. The videos also reinforce lessons such as:

  1. Tell a Grown-Up
  2. It Doesn’t Matter Who It Is
  3. Hitting is Wrong
  4. Stranger Safety
  5. Internet Safe Choices
  6. Shout, Run, Tell

The series aims to empower children to protect themselves by helping them recognize abuse and giving them simple, memorable rules to make sure the abuse stops—or better yet, never starts.

The free videos are available for afterschool programs, summer programs, school classrooms, community organizations, religious groups, clubs, advocacy groups, Scouts, and other interested organizations. We also developed lesson plans to help afterschool program staff guide discussions with kids about the rules.

Visit fightchildabuse.org to download the free video series and accompanying lessons. Every child in an afterschool program needs this information and statistics would indicate that some of them—the faces behind the statistics—can’t wait.

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learn more about: Guest Blog
MAR
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 15, 2017

By Luci Manning

Catonsville Elementary School Community Service Group Expands (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

Over the course of the school year, Westchester Elementary School students have run a candy drive for troops overseas, written thank-you notes to their teachers and compiled goodie bags for firefighters and police officers as part of a community service-focused afterschool program. EPIK Kids in Action shows the children ways they can give back to their community, preparing them for the 75 hours of service they need to log before they graduate high school. “Watching them serve and be excited about serving others is really cool,” teacher Maria Buker told the Baltimore Sun. “To see the big heart that’s inside of them, the fact that they want to do this and not run home and play video games, to make a human impact, you can’t put words on that.”

Citywide Poets Helps Detroit Youths Discover Themselves (Detroit Free Press, Michigan)

A poetry-focused afterschool program is building Detroit-area teens’ self-confidence by giving them a creative outlet and training them in writing and public speaking. Citywide Poets runs writing workshops after school and during the summer, offering students performance opportunities, pairing them with mentors and even helping them publish their poems. “I was a very shy child that didn’t like speaking or talking,” 16-year-old Wes Matthews told the Detroit Free Press. “I didn’t like my own writing. But after a while, I… [believed] in myself and the power of expressing yourself through poetry.”

Acquiring Hockey Skills and a Sense of Community, Youngsters Warm to Golden Knights (Las Vegas Sun, Nevada)

More than 60 After-School All-Stars students had a chance to learn hockey skills from the Vegas Golden Knights at a special event last week. Students met with team executives and played street hockey, oversized Jenga and beanbags with the NHL players. The Golden Knights partner with Toyota to run a youth hockey clinic in the area, and this event was another way for the team to engage with the community. “It has been a tremendous experience for the students,” ASAS executive director Jodi Manzella told the Las Vegas Sun. “For them to experience what it’s like to have partners in the community like the Golden Knights and Toyota to show the kids that there are people, businesses and organizations that want to invest in them. It’s truly priceless for the students.”

Oakley Library Haven for Teens at Afterschool Program (East Bay Times, California)

Students in Freedom High School, and their younger siblings and peers, now have a safe space to decompress after a long week at Oakley Library’s Teen Haven. The Friday afterschool program provides snacks and activities for the students before they head home for the weekend, giving them a place to spend time with their friends, meet new people and relax by playing games, doing crafts or watching movies. According to the East Bay Times, the program is free for students from sixth through 12th grade and is run by the Oakley Library Youth Squad.

MAR
14
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: 3 years of resources for healthy out-of-school time in parks and recreation

By Rachel Clark

By Allison Coleman, program manager at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and Ava DeBovis, national network manager at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This post was originally published on NRPA's Open Space blog.

In February 2014, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) launched Commit to Health, a campaign devoted to creating healthier out-of-school time (OST) programs in local parks and recreation. This month, we’re celebrating three years of successful implementation, great partnerships, new resources, and stories from communities across the country!

Over the last three years, park and recreation agencies have committed to implementing the Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) standards at their OST sites. The HEPA standards are things like ensuring that a fruit or vegetable is served at every meal, making sure that kids are getting 60 minutes of physical activity in a summer camp program, and providing drinking water at all times to youth and staff. Through implementation of these standards, more than 1270 park and recreation sites have provided increased access to healthy foods and new opportunities for physical activity for more than 228,000 youth. 

While the impact numbers alone are impressive, there are many reasons to celebrate this initiative—new partnerships have been created, new resources have been developed, and families across the county are eating healthy and moving more.

Key partnerships have created even larger impacts

In parks and recreation, we know how important partnerships are to the success of a program. Commit to Health has helped to spark numerous partnerships and collaborations across the country. From local agencies working in collaboration with state health departments, school districts, volunteer groups, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs, to national partnerships with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Partnership for a Healthier America, new relationships have flourished. 

MAR
8
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: An equity action agenda for youth development professionals

By Rachel Clark

By Jennifer Siaca Curry, Ed.D. Jennifer has worked in the afterschool and expanded learning field for over a decade, working with the statewide afterschool network in New York and ExpandED Schools. She explored afterschool programs delivered through school/community partnerships in her doctoral dissertation and is a member of the board of the NYS Network for Youth Success. This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Illustration via The Second Line Education Blog.

We are living in an important moment in time (an understatement!), and recommitting ourselves to equity and inclusion for all in the youth development field is a must. Youth programs have a long history of responding to social needs—sheltering kids from war in the early 20th century, providing child care as women entered the workforce in the 1970s, extending academic learning time in the No Child Left Behind-era.

I argue that today we are preparing for a new focus: the social and emotional needs of young people, and that this new opportunity is incomplete without an antidiscrimination framework. The youth development field is poised to protect children and youth of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, appearances, and abilities - to embrace their identities and lift their assets to support them in becoming productive, engaged, and successful adults.

And the good news? You don’t need a grant to make this happen. Here are six things you can do today to have a positive impact on the youth you serve.

Build a personal understanding of the history of oppression.

Experts agree that having deeper knowledge about our country’s history is central to weakening racism. While it’s certainly easier to leave the past behind us, building an understanding of the events, constructs, and people who laid the foundation for today’s discriminatory structures and beliefs will make you a stronger advocate and enable you to pass accurate historical knowledge on. One of my favorite anecdotes is from Marian Wright Edelman: a Texas student recognized his social studies textbook ignored the brutality of the slave trade, which he had learned in his Children’s Defense Fund program. Not only did he educate his classmates, but his protest led to McGraw-Hill issuing an apology and an updated version of the textbook!

Mind your words—they matter.

First, I recommend youth development professionals subscribe to a philosophy of multiculturalism rather than color blindness. Saying things like, “I don’t see color” or “I treat everyone the same” may feel innocuous, but research and experience suggest that people primed to have a color-blind perspective display more explicit and implicit biases than those primed with a multicultural perspective. When it comes to specifics, the Opportunity Agenda has curated a list of words and phrases that impede equity and inclusion, as well as replacement terms to use instead. It's a great document to use as required reading for new staff.

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learn more about: Equity Guest Blog
MAR
2
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: 5 things to consider when buying software for your afterschool program

By Rachel Clark

By Megan Guerin, Product Specialist at Amilia.

There are a lot of software options out there that offer a variety of solutions to help your afterschool program operate more efficiently—but searching for software can be overwhelming. It’s a big investment and there is a lot to consider.

If you’re considering a new software purchase in the coming months, bookmark this blog for some handy guidelines to consider and questions to ask as you search for the right solution to fit your program’s unique needs.

Your current issues

Before you even start evaluating software, you need to have a clear understanding of the current issues you are looking to resolve. This will allow you to ask the right questions.

The kinds of questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • What organizational goals are tied to a new software solution? These might include reducing administrative work or increasing programming.
  • What are the specific problems you are looking to solve? These could involve staff management, marketing, registration, online payment of program fees, etc.
  • Do you have any specific rules that would affect the problem you are trying to resolve? These could range from registration restrictions to multiple locations to accounting processes.

Do your research

Most companies offer a lot of information on their websites and have sales or customer success representatives available to help assess your needs, product fit, and answer your questions. It’s a good idea to make sure to do your research and narrow down your choices to just a few vendors that meet your needs.

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learn more about: Guest Blog
FEB
28
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Sen. Barbara Boxer to be honored at BOOST Conference

By Rachel Clark

By Meg Gneiting, Marketing Manager at BOOST Collaborative. "Barbara Boxer Keynote Announcement: BOOST Conference 2017" was originally published on the BOOST Breakfast Club Blog.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the 2017 BOOST Conference Keynote Speaker, former Sen. Barbara Boxer! 

BOOST Collaborative and the Afterschool Alliance invite you to join us in honoring Sen. Barbara Boxer at this year's BOOST Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, will be presenting Sen. Boxer with an OSTI (Out of-School Time Innovations) Award on Wednesday, April 19, followed by a keynote address, audience Q&A, and book signing.

Schedule: April 19, 2017

  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: OSTI Award, keynote, audience Q&A
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Meet the authors, meet & greet, book signing

Be sure to purchase your keynote book today! Log in to your online account to add or call us at 619-23-BOOST (619-232-6678).

About Barbara Boxer

A forceful advocate for families, children, consumers, the environment and her State of California, Barbara Boxer became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives and six years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors. In January 2017, she stepped down after four terms in the Senate.

A champion of quality public education, Senator Boxer wrote landmark legislation establishing the first-ever federal funding for afterschool programs. Her law now covers 1.6 million children. She worked tirelessly to expand afterschool programs nationwide as chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus.

A strong supporter of the 1994 crime bill, she has worked to fund anti-gang programs, pass the Violence Against Women Law (VAWA), and the Community Policy "COPS" Program. Her bill to prevent the criminal use of personal information obtained through motor vehicle records was signed into law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read more about Barbara Boxer.

About the BOOST Conference

The BOOST Conference will take place April 18-21, 2017, in Palm Springs, Calif. The deadline to register for the BOOST Conference is March 24, 2017.

FEB
27
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Maria Leyva, our new Development Operations Associate!

By Maria Leyva

Greetings, everyone! I am Maria Leyva, the new Development Operations Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. What a privilege it is to join such a stellar team. I will be working alongside passionate and dedicated individuals to advance the importance of afterschool and summer enrichment programs.

My interest and background in afterschool and summer programs stem from my own experience as a working parent. Thanks to afterschool and summer programs, my kids not only received homework help but were also exposed to music, interactive science activities, sign language, theater, comedy improv, and so much more.  So yes indeed, we must work together to support the critical work of the afterschool programs that nurture and strengthen our kids while supporting working families.

Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, I oversaw the development activities at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ). This included grant writing, prospects tracking and research, and maintaining and nurturing foundation relations. In my time with CHEJ, I helped launch its annual fundraiser event, which convened a record-breaking number of supporters. Additionally, teamwork and diligence paid off when we secured the largest grant in CHEJ’s history. Prior to CHEJ, I held various positions with organizations including the county health department in Phoenix, Ariz.; Concilio Latino de Salud, a nonprofit agency dedicated to Hispanic health promotion; and the National Council of La Raza here in Washington, D.C.

As the Afterschool Alliance Development Operations Associate, I will work in collaboration with all staff to support the progress and timely submission of all foundation and corporate grant reports. Additionally, in collaboration with the Director of Development, I’ll be doing outreach and follow up to prospective donors, develop grant applications, and maintain a fundraising tracking system. Other priorities will be to research and identify new donor prospects while continuing to educate funders and the broader community about the value of afterschool and summer programs. I look forward to collaborating with everyone and contributing to the strong and steady growth of the Afterschool Alliance.

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance