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In the Field Snacks
JUN
29
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool and law enforcement: Partners in keeping kids and communities safe

By Erin Murphy

The Afterschool Alliance is excited to announce a new blog series focusing on law enforcement and afterschool partnerships! As juvenile justice reform gains more attention from the afterschool field, this series highlights how afterschool and law enforcement are partnering to keep kids out of jail and strengthen communities. Throughout the rest of the year, we will be sharing themed blogs that highlight many aspects of these partnerships, such as motivations for partnering, building relationships, existing city-systems, outcomes and recommendations for getting started. Additionally, we will share stories from some of our favorite partnerships as part of the Afterschool Spotlight series

The law enforcement and afterschool series is supplemented by interviews completed as part of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

To kick off this series, representatives from the Afterschool Alliance attended a briefing on youth mentoring held by the Congressional law enforcement caucus last week. The goal of the briefing was to discuss the role law enforcement can play in mentoring youth and share examples of law enforcement initiatives that have led to successful youth mentoring programs in their communities.

Three individuals with on-the-ground experience in developing these programs shared their knowledge and insight:

Chief Jim BueermannPresidentPolice Foundation. While working at the Redlands Police Department, Chief Bueermann developed a mentoring program that supported high schoolers in exploring law enforcement careers and becoming officers.

Donald NorthcrossFounderOK Program. Northcross developed the OK program in 1990 while working as a Deputy Sheriff at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. This is a mentoring and leadership program where law enforcement officers partner with African-American men to support African-American boys.

Orrin WhiteAssistant Director of Community Engagement, United Way of DelawareInspired by challenges African-American youth faced throughout Delaware, White initiated We are the Why. This program allowed youth to work with officers to learn about law enforcement, discuss issues in their communities, and develop ways to improve law enforcement-community relations.

These speakers shared their knowledge and experiences related to program development, gaining community support, and the amazing outcomes these programs provide students, officers and their community.

"These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth."

Outcomes

  • The most significant outcome of these programs was the development of relationships between participating youth and law enforcement. These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth. Northcross shared how relationships transformed through the OK program. “At the beginning there is tension in the room when officers enter, but by the end youth are high-fiving and hugging officers.”
  • Both youth and officers gained new insight on how to interact in the community to reduce misunderstanding and distrust. White emphasized this stating, “it’s important that officers are able to see how they are perceived by the community and learn from this.”
  • In established programs, youth participants are graduating high school and giving back to their communities directly—with many youth even becoming officers themselves.
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learn more about: Working Families Community Partners
JUN
27
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Celebrate Park and Recreation Month this #SuperJuly!

By Robert Abare

Written by Kellie May, Senior Program Manager for the National Recreation and Park Association

Park and Recreation Month is almost here! The annual monthly celebration encourages all people to get out and experience the benefits of parks and recreation: from health and wellness to conservation efforts and everything in between.

This year, Park and Recreation Month occurs during #SuperJuly, a celebration of the super heroes and super powers of parks and recreation. We’ve had a lot of fun planning this July’s activities, because it’s not hard to find all of the ways in which parks and recreation acts like a community super hero. From protecting our environment to providing safe places for all people to come together and get healthy, parks and recreation does a lot.

Partners like you help us make Park and Recreation Month a success and we hope you can help us as we encourage everyone to get out and experience the benefits of their local parks and recreation this July. Here’s how:

There is even more information available at the National Recreation and Park Association website. Feel free to download, print, share and use any of the materials and to tag us in any of your social media posts with the hashtags #SuperJuly, or post a selfie as you celebrate next month with #SuperParkSelfie. 

Sample Tweets for National Park and Recreation Month

  • Join @NRPA_News this July in celebrating the super powers of parks and recreation for Park & Rec Month! #SuperJuly http://ow.ly/NCA6U
  • Join the Park and Rec Brigade and find your super powers at your park this July. #SuperJuly http://ow.ly/XHfZ3016OcU
  • Show @NRPA_News your #SuperParkSelfie! Join in the photo contest for a chance to win a $500 gift card! www.nrpa.org/July-Contest #SuperJuly
JUN
24
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate National Summer Learning Day on July 14, 2016!

By Robert Abare

Summer is here! Although school is out, summer learning programs are making sure kids are continuing to learn new things, make academic strides, and stay physically active. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) encourages communities across the country to celebrate the importance of summer learning programs on National Summer Learning Day: July 14, 2016. Visit the NSLA website to find an event near you, register your event to appear on a national map of Summer Learning day events, or explore summer learning resources for families or communities.

New book makes the case that Summers Matter

The founder of the NSLA, Matthew Boulay, PhD, helped kick off this year’s National Summer Learning Day with the release of a new book, Summers Matter: 10 Things Every Parent, Teacher, & Principal Should Know About June, July, & August. The book is the first to explore the “summer learning gap,” or the challenge of providing educational and engaging activities for kids during the summer months when school is out.

"How do we keep our children safe and supervised when schools are closed but adults still have to work? How do we preserve the academic gains that children achieved during the school year?” asks Boulay. “The good news is that researchers have quietly amassed a mountain of evidence documenting why summers matter and what we can do as parents and educators to help our children during the months when schools are closed.”

Summers Matter translates the most compelling research into accessible tips and guidance for parents and school leaders on how they can integrate summer learning programs into their communities, regardless of income or access. Proceeds from the book support the NSLA.

Boulay added, “We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what our children do during their summers has a long-term and significant impact on their academic achievement and life chances."

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Summer Learning
JUN
21
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Engaging teens as learners, leaders and team members

By Robert Abare

By the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health

A key way to promote adolescent health and development and to prepare young people for adulthood is to actively engage them at school, at home, and in the community. School clubs, sports, music, the arts, out-of-school time programs, jobs, and places of worship all offer opportunities to involve teens in meaningful ways. Adolescents benefit when they provide input into the design of programs and activities, which not only improves the programs but also provides valuable leadership experiences. Engaging teens in learning, leading, and as team members is one of the Five Essentials for Healthy Adolescents identified in the HHS Office of Adolescent Health’s national call to action, called Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow or TAG.

TAG's game plan for engaging youth

The Game Plan for Engaging Youth summarizes ideas for engaging adolescents in promoting their health and development. These ideas were generated by youth and adults at a meeting on authentic youth engagement convened by the Jim Casey Youth Initiative and the Forum for Youth Investment in March 2015.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative has led many successful efforts to engage young people throughout the nation. They distilled this wealth of knowledge into three guiding principles: 

  1. Preparation. Young people need to be effectively prepared and empowered to make informed decisions about matters that affect their lives.
  2. Support. Young people should be provided with customized services and a network of supportive relationships that meet their needs, promote a healthy transition to adulthood, and provide tools that empower them to make decisions.
  3. Opportunity. Young people should be provided with an array of life opportunities that promote optimal growth and development; experiential learning; healthy risk-taking; and participation in normal everyday activities that contribute to social confidence and positive identity formation.

Visit the TAG Game Plan for Engaging Youth on the TAG website to learn about eight successful youth engagement approaches and find examples of how professionals from different sectors can put youth engagement into action.

TAG in action: Engaging Wisconsin youth in teaching medical professionals

The HHS Office of Adolescent Health has identified a number of successful strategies for improving and promoting adolescent health. The Wisconsin-based Providers and Teens Communicating for Health Program (PATCH) is an innovative, teen-delivered educational program that trains healthcare providers and teens to communicate effectively about sensitive health topics such as sexual health, mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, and safety. Teen Educators equip their peers with skills to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for health care visits that prioritize judgment-free care. They also teach teens skills to help them engage in meaningful and effective communication with healthcare providers.

The Wisconsin Medical Journal recently published research demonstrating that providers and teens in the PATCH program experienced significant improvements in knowledge, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions to seek and provide quality sexual health care. The PATCH program is planning to expand throughout Wisconsin and is working toward replication nationwide.

JUN
16
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Simpson Street Free Press

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. Also check out the firstsecond, and third installments of the series. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

Kadjata Bah holds up a copy of the Simpson Street Free Press.

Eleven-year-old Kadjata Bah is a 5th grader with a dream of one day becoming a pediatrician. Though ambitious, her career goal seems more attainable thanks to the Simpson Street Free Press afterschool program, which has already allowed her to become a paid, published journalist.

“I just wrote an article about a new species of bee that was discovered in Kenya,” Kadjata enthusiastically explains. “They are very different from how we typically think of bees, like honeybees, which live in hives. These bees are solitary, and they don’t have stingers.”

“It was fun to write this article, and I learned a lot,” she adds.

Jim Kramer founded the Simpson Street Free Press 24 years ago in southeast Madison, WI, after seeking a creative way to get kids in this challenged part of town more excited about their school work while gaining valuable, real-world skills.

“Our concept was to start a newspaper where kids take on the role of reporters,” Jim explains. The program currently reaches approximately 270 students, with two newsrooms located at local schools, a central newsroom in southeast Madison, and a newsroom located at the offices of Capital Newspapers, the publisher of local daily newspapers.

Middle and high school students interested in participating in the Simpson Street Free Press are required to apply as they would to any other job—with writing samples and recommendations from their teachers. If accepted, they are paid once their work makes it through multiple rounds of outlining and editing and is finally published.

“We have kids applying to our program as young as 3rd grade," says Jim. "For most, this is the first job they have ever applied to."

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learn more about: Youth Development Literacy
JUN
16
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool programs: an overlooked solution to America's problems

By Jodi Grant

The past few days have been busy ones here in Washington, D.C. Last week, we learned of new information and strategies regarding our nation’s ongoing struggle with inequality—and of a damaging proposal by Congress that would make it more difficult for afterschool programs to rise to the challenge.

On Tuesday, June 6, the Department of Education released new civil rights data that reveal that more than 6.5 million U.S. students are chronically absent—a trend that disproportionally affects students of color.

To help tackle this problem and others linked to poverty, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan last week released a new policy paperA Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America. The plan calls for streamlining federal programs that help the disadvantaged, while focusing on empowering individuals to escape poverty through avenues like juvenile justice reform and career and technical training.

While the debate ensues over the best ways to tackle these national problems, I invite you to join me in ensuring that afterschool and summer learning programs are not left out of the conversation. We know that these programs strengthen communities by improving student outcomes, keeping kids in school and out of trouble, and by helping working families. According to America After 3PM, 82 percent of U.S. parents say that afterschool programs excite students about learning, and 83 percent say that afterschool programs reduce the likelihood that youth experiment with drugs, crimes and sex.

And as summer heats up, our Vice President of Policy Erik Peterson was recently quoted in The New York Times to highlight the growing demand for summer learning programs, which keep students safe, engaged and growing academically while school is out, but cannot accommodate all the children who wish to participate.

JUN
13
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Youth Today's Out-of-School Time Hub links latest research to practice

By Robert Abare

Youth Today, a national publication for those working in the field of youth services, has recently launched a new Out-of-School Time (OST) Hub for engaging articles on the latest research and emerging issues in the out-of-school time field. The new resource is funded by a grant from the Robert Bowne Foundation, and "reflects the Foundation's belief in the critical importance of building bridges between research and practice."

The OST Hub is broken into four topic areas: Language and Literacy, Program Quality, Youth Leadership, and Health in OST Programs. Each section features a variety of downloadable PDFs on the latest research, program examples, fieldnotes and other resources relating to each topic. For instance, check out Youth-Adult Partnerships in Community Decision Making: What Does It Take to Involve Adults in the Practice? in the OST Hub's Youth Leadership section.

Take advantage of webinars exploring afterschool innovations

The OST Hub also provides a number of webinars for professionals to engage directly with experts in the out-of-school time field. This Wednesday, June 15th at 1 p.m., the OST Hub is hosting a webinar on "Documenting Youth Learning with Badges and Portfolios," part of Youth Today's "From Research to Practice" webinar series. The webinar explores how afterschool programs can offer trusted certifications to participants who gain specific skills, focusing on Mouse, Inc. 

Mouse, Inc. is a nonprofit that involved high school students in an afterschool computer project. The participating students, upon completion, were able to earn a badge recognized  by the admissions department of Parsons School of Art. The webinar's presenters are Marc Lesser of Mouse, Inc. and Sarah Zeller-Berkman, Ph.D, of Mozilla.

Add your voice to the Hub!

The OST Hub is looking to hear from you! In particular, the publication seeks writing from afterschool practitioners in the OST Fieldnotes section, in every topic area. If your program is embarking on an innovative project and you'd like to share insights from your work, contact the OST Hub editor Sara Hill at sarahill@youthtoday.org.

JUN
10
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Advocates sing praises of musical education to leaders in Washington

By Robert Abare

From left to right, NAMM president Joe Lamond, Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 

Last month, the week of May 23-26, members and supporters of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) arrived in Washington, D.C. to highlight the importance of making music education available to all students, as a part of a well-rounded education. You can read the full description of the week's events through NAMM's press release.

Here are some highlights from NAMM's week of music education advocacy:

  • A day of service, during which NAMM members donated musical instruments and supplies to students in need, and provided three hours of music lessons to 75 students at D.C.’s Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy.
  • Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) was awarded the SupportMusic Champion Award by the NAMM Foundation in recognition of the Senator’s long history in supporting music education. The award came on the heels of the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015. The passage of ESSA is the first federal law to provide a framework for access to music and arts education for every student.
  • Over 150 meetings with Congressional offices to emphasize the importance of supporting music education and highlight the benefits music education offers students.
  • A special reception was held for the Turnaround Arts, a program under the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. During the reception, a variety of artists were honored for their work in arts education advocacy, of which music education is a core topic.
  • A call with Secretary of Education John King, during which King discussed ESSA and the law's goal of creating a more dynamic and well-rounded education experience for America's students. Listen to the call via NAMM's website.
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learn more about: Advocacy Arts