You've probably noticed—it's an election year! And, it’s a big election year at that! Not only is the presidency up for grabs, but all 435 House of Representative seats and 34 of 100 Senate seats will be decided this November, and that’s just at the national level! For advocates of afterschool and summer programming, now is a great time to get our future decision makers thinking about important issues.
We know that afterschool and summer programs help keep youth safe and engaged, support working families, prepare the future workforce, and improve student well-being. Now, we need to make sure our candidates also understand the value of afterschool programs and, once they become elected officials, the importance of supporting afterschool. We’ve prepared the following resources to help you turn afterschool into an election issue this year.
- The Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit: A comprehensive guide to afterschool advocacy during an election year, including how to mobilize support, sample talking points and outreach materials, social media support, the do’s and don’ts for non-profit organizations, links to helpful resources, and more.
- The Candidate Resource Guide on Afterschool: This guide is designed to be given to any candidate for office, and is filled with information they need to see afterschool as an essential piece of their platform that provides solid returns on investment. The guide is separated into 6 main sections showcasing research and polling data on ways afterschool complements and strengthens work being done to support working families, build safe communities, advance academic achievement, promote STEM learning and career readiness, encourage health and wellness, and close opportunity gaps. Please read and distribute broadly. Remember to provide a copy to all candidates for particular office. Afterschool, after all, receives frequent and broad bi-partisan support.
Other resources to check out:
- Afterschool Alliance Elections Webinars: Upcoming webinar on the materials above and outreach efforts across states
- Non-Profit Vote: A great resource for how non-profits can support voter registration
- Every Child Matters: An organization with the main goal of making children’s issues a national political priority
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
This September marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11. We are proud to join 9/11 Day and a coalition of more than 20 other organizations to encourage service, empathy and unity through a new initiative called Tomorrow Together. Tomorrow Together will include large-scale service projects across the nation on September 11, 2016, bringing together a diverse community of people to help address hunger in America and other important societal issues:
- In Washington, D.C., volunteers will help pack more than one million meals for at-risk seniors, children, veterans and others.
- Millions of educators will receive free educational service-learning materials that assist in teaching empathy, through a collaboration with the Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative and the National Youth Leadership Council.
- At the college level, The George Washington University will help organize other universities and colleges to participate in 9/11 Day.
9/11 Day is also releasing public service announcements (PSAs) featuring 14-year-old Hillary O'Neill from Norwalk, CT, one of more than 13,000 children born in the United States on the day of the tragedy, September 11, 2001. In the PSAs, O'Neill urges the nation to see the anniversary of 9/11 as a day to work together to do good deeds. View her message on YouTube.
9/11 Day co-founder and executive vice president Jay Winuk perfectly summed up the goal of the effort. Winuk's brother, Glenn J. Winuk, an attorney and volunteer firefighter and EMT, died in the line of duty as a rescuer on 9/11. Jay said, "As someone who lost a loved one on 9/11, I was truly inspired by the remarkable way our nation came together in the months following the attacks. We owe more than division and discord to those who perished from the attacks and those who served in its aftermath. The anniversary of 9/11 should be a reminder to us all about our common humanity and the opportunity we have to help people and communities in need."
What can afterschool programs do for 9/11 Day?
Plan your own service activity, or reach out to service organizations in your community. And stay tuned, the Afterschool Snack will share resources and activities as they are developed.
9/11 is an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance. More than 30 million Americans now observe September 11 each year through charitable service and good deeds, transforming 9/11 Day into the largest annual day of charitable engagement in America.
Once school is out this year, will you be working with a summer learning program to continue providing engaging learning to young people? Don’t forget to provide nutritious meals to children through your program! With the USDA Summer Meals Program you can help young people get free, healthy meals this summer.
How does the program work?
Purpose: To serve free, healthy meals to low-income children and teens during summer months when school is out.
Where: Any safe place for kids (for example: school, park, rec center, library, faith organization, etc.) can be a summer meal site, but summer learning programs are an ideal location to offer learning and meals!
Who: Summer meal sites receive meals from local sponsoring organizations (for example: Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, local school district, etc.). Sponsors prepare the food (or order it), deliver it to the meal site, and are reimbursed by USDA for the costs.
Eligibility: Any meal site open to the public is eligible if it is in a school attendance area where 50 percent or more children qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. If it is not open to the public (for example: a summer camp), 50 percent of more of the enrolled students must qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals.
By Erin Murphy
Reading, writing and critical thinking are important skills for success, yet less than 40 percent of students leave high school with proficiency in these skills. Two programs, Redhound Enrichment and Simpson Street Free Press, featured in a newly released issue brief joined us on a webinar last week to talk about their work keeping their students engaged in literacy during the school year and into the summer months.
Karen West, executive director of Redhound Enrichment, spoke on behalf of her program, which was also this year’s recipient of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award. Since 1991, Redhound Enrichment has served a rural community in Kentucky through the Corbin Independent School District. Throughout the school year and summer months, the program serves 1,000 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, across five sites. A typical day at Redhound Enrichment includes an “energy release” period and snack, homework help or tutoring and two enrichment activity periods, with literacy embedded throughout these activities. Karen attributed their program’s success to four best practices:
- Individualized support: Redhound Enrichment is committed to providing students with individualized support, which includes keeping up-to-date on students’ homework and grades and working with students one-on-one and in small group sessions.
- School day linkages: Building partnerships and supporting school time learning, while not replicating what happens in school, is an important part of the program. Redhound Enrichment staff meet regularly with teachers to identify students’ needs and build rapport with teachers.
- Integrated instruction: Literacy is integrated into a variety of enrichment activities offered at Redhound Enrichment. Using a project-based learning approach, programming does not mimic the school day set-up and allows students to learn important skills in new and fun ways.
- Community connections: Partnerships with the school district, public library, universities, and other stakeholders provide important resources for the program. Redhound Enrichment invests a lot of effort into developing strong relationships with these groups, who in turn can help with funding, curricula, volunteers and more.
By Erin Murphy
Written by Jennifer Kelly, After School Program Manager for Save the Bay. This blog post is presented as part of a series celebrating afterschool programs involved in environmental education, with more installments coming throughout April! Join the conversation about afterschool's role in environmental education on social media with #AfterschoolEE.
“Whoa!” a student exclaims. “This is so cool! It’s walking on my hand.”
It’s a typical day at one of our afterschool programs: a student is getting up close and personal with local wildlife, holding a sea urchin for the first time.
Save the Bay has provided afterschool programming since 2003, advancing our mission to protect and improve Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay by teaching students about their local environment and creating future stewards for the bay. By partnering with schools and organizations in underserved communities across the state, our education department serves more than 16,000 students each year during the school day and after school hours.
Out-of-school time offers a great space to reach more students with fun and exciting enrichment programs, and our local organizations and schools were eager to build partnerships to take advantage of this opportunity. Save The Bay’s afterschool programs align to meet state science standards, while including energizing games, arts and crafts, and stories.
During our programs, students are actively engaged in STEM activities with a focus on marine and environmental science topics, specifically related to Narragansett Bay and its watershed. Save The Bay’s goal is to have a swimmable, fishable, and healthy Narragansett Bay accessible to everyone, and we believe educating our youth is an important part of this mission.
By Robert Abare
|Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant (third from left) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (fifth from left) with the participants of J-Z AMP in New Haven, CT.|
Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant recently visited New Haven, Connecticut for a tour of the Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program (J-Z AMP), along with local Afterschool Ambassador Mark Fopeano. Mark Fopeano is currently the Program Manager for Dwight Hall at Yale, the Center for Public Service and Social Justice on Yale University’s campus. The two were joined on their visit to J-Z AMP by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents Connecticut’s 3rd district.
Q: What is the J-Z AMP program?
Mark: J-Z AMP program is a mentoring program that builds beneficial relationships between Yale students and inner-city middle school students of New Haven. Yale students are recruited at the end of their freshman year for a three-year commitment to the program. This ambitious length of time allows the program to foster uniquely strong bonds between mentors and mentees. By the time Yale students reach graduation, their mentees are graduating 8th grade, resulting in a great kinship through mutual growth and shared experiences. J-Z AMP also operates at sites with other partner universities in Bridgeport, Conn. and Hartford, Conn.
Q: How did the younger participants of J-Z AMP respond to the visit by Congresswoman DeLauro?
Jodi: Congresswoman DeLauro spoke with the kids about the role of representative government and why they should care about voting, elections, and the work of their representatives. Her message really seemed to “click” when she discussed making a decision on whether or not to vote to send the United States to war, and put the lives of our military at risk. Suddenly, the kids got very quiet, and I could tell they really took to heart the significance of her role.
Q: How did the mentors react while watching the Congresswoman interact with their mentees?
Mark: It was great to watch the Yale students step back and feel proud of their mentees as they asked questions of Congresswoman DeLauro. These students sit and talk with their mentees every week, and to see them using their voices with such a unique and influential audience really gave a special feeling to the event.
Q: What did Congresswoman DeLauro gain from her visit to J-Z AMP?
Jodi: Congresswoman DeLauro has been a champion for afterschool since the inception of the Afterschool Alliance, and she was an afterschool teacher herself, so she personally understands the need for these programs. She’s also a sophisticated policy maker who’s adept at reaching across the aisle to get things done—an important lesson for all the participants of J-Z AMP. When she concluded her visit, Congresswoman DeLauro told me how impressed she was with the program, and expressed her interest in duplicating the program’s model to more sites.
Mark: After her visit to J-Z AMP, Congresswoman DeLauro—or Rosa, as everyone addressed her during her visit—is able to return to Washington and share with her colleagues real stories about the power of afterschool, and how afterschool programs can benefit their districts, too. Similarly, it has been my privilege as an Afterschool Ambassador to collect and spread the unique stories of afterschool programs, which can only be found there, with those people.
By Robert Abare
The Afterschool Alliance is excited to present our first Afterschool Spotlight, a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at email@example.com.
When Vicky Agapito-Rosas moved to her home of Northfield, Minnesota, 15 years ago, she was confronted by something every native Minnesotan had already learned to accept: a cold winter spent (mostly) indoors. But Vicky was troubled by the lack of activities and resources available to her third-grade daughter, Dalilah, during the cold winter months.
“Other communities have malls or neighborhood centers where kids can gather after school,” Vicky explained, “but Northfield had nothing like that.”
|Vicky Agapito-Rosas and her daughter, Delilah|
Vicky decided to take action. She and a group of neighborhood parents who faced similar circumstances came together and approached the leaders of the Northfield Public Schools to find ways to keep kids engaged, learning, and active beyond standard school time hours. The group’s enthusiasm was met with equal interest by the public school leadership, and plans took shape for the Greenvale Park Community School, an initiative at Greenvale Park Elementary that offers a wide range of out-of-school time programming for students, parents, their families and the entire community.
Finally, a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers in August 2014 turned the Greenvale Park Community School into a reality.
Now, Dalilah rides a complimentary bus to and from the Community School on weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings. A world of activities are now available for her to explore, including cooking classes, creative craft projects, tutoring for her homework, photography, and much more. “If there weren’t a Community School, I would just be home watching TV,” Dalilah said.
The Greenvale Park Community School has earned praise from a number of people involved with the project, including Superintendent of Northfield Public Schools Dr. Chris Richardson. “I am so impressed with the efforts of Greenvale Park and Community Services staff to collaborate with individuals and community groups to design and provide the broad range of programs and services for the students, siblings and parents of the Greenvale Park Community School,” he said.