How is your afterschool program creating opportunities for disadvantaged youth? There's still time to share your story!
The White House initiative My Brother's Keeper is focused on creating opportunities for boys and young men of color. To help the White House better understand the important role that afterschool programs are playing in supporting boys and young men of color, we've been gathering stories from the field to share with the White House. We may also ask you to share additional details in a guest blog or on a conference call or webinar.
By Jen Rinehart
Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., have joined the rapidly growing Cities of Learning movement, a new effort to network citywide resources to keep youth (ages 4 to 24) engaged in educational and career opportunities when school lets out. Cities are funded by local partners and receive national support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Digital Youth Network and the Badge Alliance.
Cities of Learning offer free or low-cost opportunities for youth to learn online or participate in programming at parks, libraries, museums and other institutions. Whether through robotics, fashion design, coding competitions or workplace internships, Cities of Learning provide an array of engaging opportunities for young people to explore new interests, develop their talents, and create unique pathways toward college or a career.
Chicago launched the Cities of Learning movement in 2013 with a successful summer program that now continues year-round. This summer, Dallas, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh will kick off their Cities of Learning, with Columbus and Washington, D.C., joining the lineup this fall. More cities are planning to launch in 2015.
By Jen Rinehart
At the first-ever White House Maker Faire, Pres. Obama proclaimed June 18, 2014, a National Day of Making, saying, "I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills."
At the White House, a robotic giraffe, cupcake bicycles, a banana piano, homemade 3-D printers and 3-D printed pancakes, fiddles and more were all on display with the goal of inspiring makers across the country.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Summer to Make, Play & Connect will keep that inspiration going throughout the summer. As part of the Summer to Make, Play & Connect, Mozilla’s Maker Party 2014—a campaign to teach Web literacy on a global scale through hands-on learning and making—will feature two months of hands-on making.
From July 15 through Sept. 15, educators and makers will host “learning parties” in schools, libraries, museums and community centers. Maker Party events feature people of all ages who are learning to code, making stop-motion animations, designing games, creating digital stories, fabricating wearable technologies, remixing websites, and so much more. Participants gain valuable Web literacy skills as they learn about the basic culture, mechanics and citizenship of the Web.
Ellie Mitchell is director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), a statewide youth development organization dedicated to more and better opportunities in the out of school hours for all of Maryland’s young people.
The afterschool field has long embraced the idea that learning happens all the time and in many different settings and environments. We constantly seek new ways to capture, share, encourage and reward the learning that happens outside of the school day and school year. The growing Open Digital Badges movement offers an innovative, technology-based tool to make visible the learning and skill development happening in afterschool and summer programs. The Smithsonian, Providence After School Alliance and the Chicago Summer of Learning provide excellent pioneering examples of how to use digital badges for engagement and recognition with young people in the out-of-school-time space.
By Jodi Grant
What an incredible way to start the summer! Two events, two days and two great shout-outs for our afterschool and summer learning programs.
White House Summit on Working Families
On Mon., June 23, the White House hosted its first ever White House Summit on Working Families. The event featured celebrities, journalists and Members of Congress, as well as Dr. Jill Biden, Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Pres. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and pulled out every stop to showcase and highlight the challenges facing our working families.
While every speaker mentioned the need for high-quality childcare, I cheered loudest for Vice Pres. Biden, whose impassioned speech kicked off with a tribute to the power and impact of afterschool programs. Defining families as more than just parents, the vice president spoke about how afterschool programs make a tremendous difference not only for working families, but also for the students who are at the gravest risk during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. The vice president even gave a shout-out to many of the community-based organizations that help to provide care during the afterschool hours.
Michelle Un and Alexis Stern are project managers for the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance, an education initiative of United Way of Rhode Island that leads policy, practice and systems change to ensure that all of Rhode Island’s children and youth have access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities.
Out-of-school time and other expanded learning programs are increasingly recognizing the potential of digital badging to help make learning consequential for their students. In Rhode Island, several organizations, such as the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), have already successfully piloted the use of digital badges with their students and are now entering exciting new phases of development and complexity. While digital badges have great potential to recognize and reward students for their learning within programs, the real value of digital badges is what they mean to the rest of the world, including employers and institutions of higher education. Can statewide badging systems help us to make these connections and meet this need in our states?
Liz Nusken is director for the Ohio Afterschool Network, a program of the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, which supports children, youth, families, and communities in Ohio by advocating and building capacity with a unified voice for sustainable investments in safe, healthy, and nurturing afterschool experiences.
Afterschool professionals know that learning takes place at all times of the day and year and in all settings. Digital badges are gaining momentum as a way to recognize learning that takes place in and out of school.
The Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN) is one of five statewide afterschool networks that received a grant from the Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, to pilot a digital badge initiative.
OAN will partner with the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA); Starting Point, the Cleveland-area child care resource and referral agency; and Case Western Reserve University to conduct a pilot project that focuses on digital badges and adult learners.
Last week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio with school and community leaders announced plans to increase the number of New York City middle schools offering quality afterschool programming. The announcement at New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx included the selection of 271 providers that will oversee expanded afterschool opportunities for middle school students beginning in September.
As a result of a request for proposals (RFP) released in March, New York City middle school students will have access to afterschool programs in 562 schools beginning this fall, a 142 percent increase over the current 231. In the next fiscal year, the number of citywide program openings will jump 76 percent, to more than 79,300. Overseeing the new programs will be 108 eligible community-based organizations, nearly half of which will be new to city afterschool funding: a complete list can be found here.
In addition to expanding afterschool to 85 percent of middle schools in the city, the RFP calls for programs to be open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year, with providers offering 540 hours of afterschool programming. The proposed price per participant was also increased to $3,000 to cover additional hours and reflect the actual costs providers say will enable them to hire and retain certified staff and offer high-quality programs.