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In the Field Snacks
FEB
11

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate Digital Learning Day on February 17th!

By Dan Gilbert

The fifth annual Digital Learning Day is coming up next Wednesday, Feb. 17th! With an ever-expanding array of new digital devices, mobile apps and educational software, it has never been more difficult to keep up with recent advancements in educational technology. Our friends at the Alliance for Excellent Education founded Digital Learning Day in 2012 as a means of highlighting the innovative and effective practices that leverage technology, while simultaneously working to ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning experiences.

While much of the recent hype around digital learning has been focused on large-scale efforts in districts and states around the country, afterschool and summer learning programs have been experimenting, innovating and perfecting the use of digital learning strategies for years. Digital Learning Day provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the effective practices that need to be shared and scaled to reach more students around the country, especially those with the greatest need.

This year’s Digital Learning Day celebration will be focused on bridging the gap of equitable access to digital learning experiences for underprivileged children around the country. On Feb. 17th, hundreds of grassroots celebrations will be taking place all over the country to raise awareness around the incredible ways that technology can be leveraged to improve learning experience of every child, regardless of where they live. This celebration will culminate in the Digital Learning Day Live!, which will feature a mix of live webcasts, Twitter Chats, and Google Hangouts organized to inspire and provoke thoughtful discussions around what is needed to promote digital equity for all students.

Since launching in 2012, Digital Learning Day has not only become a platform for encouraging educators to innovate, but also to help the education community reflect on strategies and practices that maximize the positive impact that technology can have on youth. While there is much debate around what a 21st Century education should look like, there is a growing consensus that technology can play a vital role in ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. Afterschool programs around the country are providing youth with unique opportunities to interact with technology in creative, collaborative ways every single day. This Feb. 17th, we hope that you take some time to learn about and celebrate the incredible opportunities that technology has made available to today’s youth.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Science
FEB
10

IN THE FIELD
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Add your message to our giant love letter: #WeLoveAfterschool!

By Jodi Grant

We all recognize the symbols of this time of year: teddy bears, chocolate, and children swapping cards at school. We learn at an early age that this season is about bringing people together, in spite of our many differences. This February, I invite you to join me in sending a “love letter” to the afterschool programs that knit communities together—regardless of differences in age, race, economic privilege or academic interest—by providing a safe place for children to grow and learn.

Our campaign toolkit has everything you need to join in. It’s easy to take part. Fill in the blank on our downloadable graphic with a personal message of why afterschool matters to you—and encourage kids from your program to do the same! Then post photos of you or your kids holding their “love letters” on social media with the hashtag #WeLoveAfterschool.

There are so many reasons to love afterschool programs. Afterschool exposes children of varying ages and backgrounds to new ideas, like computer science or STEM learning activities, that prepare them for college and careers. Afterschool promotes social and emotional learning, helping youth develop the critical reasoning skills and humane instincts they need to become responsible, successful adults. Afterschool helps working families whose children would otherwise invent their own activities after the bell rings.

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JAN
22

IN THE FIELD
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Incorporating restorative justice in afterschool

By Erin Murphy

 

On Jan. 14, with support from the Connecticut Afterschool Network, the Rhode Island Statewide Afterschool Network hosted a webinar, Incorporating restorative justice in afterschool settingsdefining restorative justice, explaining its benefits in the afterschool setting and addressing how it can be integrated into programs. The panel for this webinar was made up of high school student advocates who had experienced restorative justice systems in their own afterschool programs.

What is restorative justice?

Unlike punitive justice, which focuses on punishing the offender, restorative justice focuses on repairing harm done. The goal is to identify who was harmed, explore why it happened, and solve the issue by considering the needs of all individuals involved—the victims and offenders. Three important principles within restorative justice include: involving the entire community, encouraging equity, and utilizing a proactive strategy.

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learn more about: Youth Development
JAN
21

IN THE FIELD
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"The First State" leads by example in the push for afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Executive Director Jodi Grant with Delaware House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst

I will forever remember 2015 as a year of momentous achievement for afterschool. Years of advocacy by the Afterschool Alliance and the afterschool field culminated in President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, protecting the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and strengthening afterschool programs across the nation for years to come.

We can’t rest on our laurels for long. Even as the Department of Education begins determining how to implement ESSA and fund programs like 21st CCLC, too many students—almost 20 million nationwide—are still left without an afterschool program.

With a major national hurdle behind us, one way to continue expanding access to students in need is by renewing our focus on expanding afterschool and summer learning programs with our partners and afterschool advocates at the state level. Delaware, “The First State,” provides a stellar example of one such effort to expand afterschool.

JAN
20

IN THE FIELD
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Join us in the Sunshine State for NAA16!

By Rachel Clark

The National AfterSchool Association’s 27th annual convention is just two months away. On March 20-23, we’ll be in Orlando presenting workshops, exhibiting, and serving as a proud sponsor of the event. We hope to see many of you there!

NAA will be announcing a full schedule of more than 170 sessions in February, but you can download a preview now. You can also check out NAA’s top ten must-see workshops—we’re honored to have our workshop on effective afterschool STEM messaging included among them. Anita Krishnamurthi, Afterschool Alliance Vice President for STEM Policy and an NAA Most Influential in STEM honoree, will join the Frameworks Institute's Jennifer Nichols to guide you through new afterschool STEM data and how you can use it to tell a story. It’s an excellent chance to learn to make the case for afterschool STEM.

In addition to dozens of engaging workshops, NAA16 will offer more than 20 hours of networking opportunities, more than 100 exhibitors, and several engaging keynote speakers. Among them is Dr. Angela Duckworth, a cutting-edge researcher and MacArthur Fellow. Dr. Duckworth will lead an engaging discussion on “grit,” the skill she believes is most closely tied to lifelong success. It's certain to be a thought-provoking talk exploring how afterschool can help students succeed in school and in life.

Don't miss the premier event for afterschool professionals. Be sure to register by February 1 to take advantage of the early bird rate. We'll see you (and 1,500 colleagues from across the country) in Orlando!

JAN
19

IN THE FIELD
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A new TV show inspires youth to engage in community service

By Robert Abare

Yesterday evening, Nickelodeon debuted the first episode of the inspirational new series “The HALO Effect.” The series features the stories of real teens, or “Champions,” who are Helping And Leading Others to make our world a better place for all. Each month, the show will challenge viewers and their families to get involved in a community-building project started by a HALO Effect Champion.

Yesterday’s episode featured the story of Jessica Collins, a 16-year-old from Shelbyville, Ky., who started the organization A Place to Sleep at age 10. By delivering bedding supplies to children in need, Jessica’s organization has since helped over 700 kids get beds of their own since she launched the project.

Jessica supports A Place to Sleep through a “Pajama Walk-and-Run” fundraiser, which brings together people in her community for a fun day of exercise in sleepwear, all while raising money and awareness for children who lack the proper materials to get a good night’s sleep.

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learn more about: Youth Development Community Partners
JAN
15

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Tiereny Lloyd, our new Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives!

By Tiereny Lloyd

Hello, Hello, Hello! I am Tiereny Lloyd, the new Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives at the Afterschool Alliance. As the Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives, in collaboration with the Policy team, I am charged with directing a national, state and local level effort to progress health and wellness policy for children and youth in afterschool, summer learning and early care and education programs. In this role, I have the unique opportunity to not only work on behalf of the out-of-school time community but also support the early childhood community as well.

I have a deep commitment to advancing the comprehensive health and wellness of children, particularly those most at risk. Before coming to the Afterschool Alliance, I implemented a national physical activity program for Head Start children while working at the National Head Start Association, managed an oral health campaign to decrease pediatric dental disease while working at the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, and most recently served as the Senior Manager of Strategic Relationships at SHAPE America for Let’s Move! Active Schools. Although those roles afforded me a national perspective of child health and wellness’ standards and practice, it was through my previous roles as a local pre-school teacher and director that often grounds, influences, and provides practical meaning to my advocacy work. 

Given the Afterschool Alliance’s successful track record of afterschool advocacy and true commitment to increasing access to quality programming, it is an honor to become the newest member of the Afterschool Alliance policy team. I am energized and ready to support the out-of-school time and early childhood program providers and organizations with the promotion of campaigns that will advance state health and wellness policy. Together, let’s make our kids healthier!!

JAN
7

IN THE FIELD
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Mentor In Real Life: Celebrate National Mentoring Month

By Robert Abare

January 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, a time to honor the many adults who offer their encouragement, support, and guidance to our nation's youth. This month's theme, Mentor In Real Life, encourages conversation about the many real world benefits that kids gain through directly interacting with caring adults, like social emotional learning, improved self esteem, and career development.

According to Mentoring.org, 9 million children are still in need of a responsible mentor to help them navigate the formative early stages of their lives. Afterschool programs provide a natural home for connecting these children with the mentors they need. For example, the cadets of West Point are helping nearby elementary and middle school students gain critical math and reasoning skills in a new program called Cadets 4 Kids.

“[Cadets 4 Kids] supports our students at many levels, not only academically, but socially,” said Highland Falls Intermediate School counselor Patti Lofaro in an article about the program. “Having someone to work with them and establishing that mentoring role is invaluable.”

There are many ways you can get involved in National Mentoring Month this January:

You can learn more about upcoming events, social media outreach, and the basics of how to Mentor In Real Life in this Partner Activation Toolkit.