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In the Field Snacks
MAY
21

IN THE FIELD
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This Memorial Day, think about inviting your elected officials for a site visit

By Rachel Clark

With Congress preparing to head home for the Memorial Day recess, now is the perfect time to think about inviting a Member of Congress to stop by your afterschool program while they’re back in your district. This year is a critical time for federal afterschool funding—giving Members of Congress and Senators the chance to experience the impact afterschool programs are having in their local community is invaluable!

To help make your event a success, we’ve put together a step-by-step planning guide including a target timeline and sample schedule, as well as case studies of site visits other programs have hosted. If you’ve never invited an elected official to your program before, you may be surprised to see how easy and rewarding the process can be! The all-inclusive guide also includes links to tools you can use to attract press coverage of your event, giving you a great opportunity to increase community awareness of your program while you build a relationship with your representative and their staff.

If the week of Memorial Day is too soon for you to plan a site visit, don’t worry—if your program is open during the summer break, there are plenty of opportunities later in the summer when your representatives will be back home. Check the House and Senate calendars to find a time that works for you and for your elected officials.

Inviting policy makers to visit your afterschool program is a powerful way to help them understand the value your program brings to the community. Having spent the spring working hard to call on Congress to protect afterschool, now is the perfect time to make this personal connection with your representatives!

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learn more about: Congress
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MAY
13

IN THE FIELD
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#MoveInMay with afterschool programs

By Shaun Gray

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is the perfect time to celebrate afterschool and summer programs that are keeping kids active and healthy, and for programs to cement their commitment to combating the childhood obesity epidemic—we know from America After 3PM data that they’re doing a tremendous amount to encourage healthy habits that kids can keep with them for life.

Programs looking to foster healthy practices in the out-of-school time space have plenty of resources to explore. The Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition serves as a hub for the latest in physical activity and healthy eating news from afterschool and summer learning programs, from research to activities and ideas, as well as physical activity resources. The Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards can also be found on the HOST Coalition’s website, along with background on how the standards were developed, offering guidelines to help programs effectively foster healthy behaviors.  First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign offers even more resources to encourage active and healthy lifestyles, from key facts to simple steps for success.

To learn more about the state of healthy afterschool programs in your community, dive into our America After 3PM dashboard—compelling statistics about parent demand and satisfaction for these programs help make a strong case for the importance of afterschool. And to help make the case, check out these eye-catching infographics that can be used to grab people’s attention and share key America After 3PM findings. The research is clear: Afterschool programs are vital resources to keep kids active and healthy. Celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports month by spreading the word!

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MAY
6

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool biking programs build career skills and get kids active

By Rachel Clark

America After 3PM data shows us that afterschool programs are keeping kids active in plenty of unique ways. To highlight just one of the many activities programs are leveraging, we’re celebrating National Bike to School Day by featuring some of the programs that are empowering physical activity through biking.

  • In Kansas City, the FreeWheels for Kids program helps middle schoolers stay active and also empowers them to become leaders for healthy change in their community by teaching them how to fix bikes, build nature trails, and raise their voices in support of a bike-friendly community.
  • iCan Shine partners with public school districts around the country to host afterschool bike programs to enrich the lives of people with disabilities by offering the opportunity to learn to ride a bike—according to the organization, over 80% of people with Autism and 90% of people with Down syndrome never learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
  • Cycles of Change offers youth in Alameda County, California, opportunities to learn bicycle mechanics, earn bikes of their own, and go on “pedal-powered adventures” that get youth active while exploring their neighborhoods.
  • In Chicago, a DePaul University senior has pioneered Four Star Bikes, a workshop-based afterschool program that offers career skills while promoting activity in the community by teaching high schoolers to repair and build bicycles for community members.

Interested in finding a youth-focused bicycle program in your community this National Bike Month?  The International Bicycle Fund offers a directory of youth programs in the United States, Canada, and around the world. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
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MAY
5

IN THE FIELD
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Take a moment to celebrate afterschool educators this Teacher Appreciation Week

By Rachel Clark

Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4 through 8) is a great moment to thank our teachers, who devote their careers to educating youth. Teachers strive every day not only to provide an exemplary education to their students, but to offer a boost of confidence, or extra help, or a welcoming presence that kids can count on. Many even continue their day after the school bell rings by supporting students in afterschool programs – and many of our future teachers are afterschool educators who catch the teaching bug in programs.

This week, join NEA and the National PTA to say “Thank You” to an educator in your life, whether that’s an afterschool educator who inspires you, a loved one working in the education field, or a teacher who changed your life. Share your gratitude with the hashtag #ThankATeacher beginning on National Teacher Day (May 5) for a chance to receive a $100 VISA gift card to give to your favorite teacher for supplies!

Though we can’t ever thank educators enough, National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week serve as great reminders to reflect on the individuals who dedicate their lives to helping kids succeed, whether in school or out.

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APR
30

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Baltimore is not burning

By Rachel Clark

Ellie Mitchell is the Director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network.

The last few days in Baltimore have been disappointing though not shocking to any of us who live and work here. The media coverage as you might expect has sensationalized what have been high impact, but relatively isolated incidents of looting and property destruction.  There will be a high economic impact, an even greater emotional impact.  Hard to believe the Orioles played a game to an empty stadium yesterday.

Of greatest concern to us at the Maryland Out of School Time Network has been the involvement of young people and how the media has portrayed young people in Baltimore City.  We are working with a number of organizations to highlight the positive contributions of young people—many have been involved in the clean up—and to underscore how the lack of opportunity in the city has contributed to the sense of despair that is the precursor to this kind of violence.

On Monday morning, I was at the high school, Frederick Douglass, which is directly across from the mall where the altercation between police and students began.  I was working with a group of students who produce a TV show called Baltimore Pioneers.  I can tell you the full story about how students ended up engaging with police there has not been told.  On Monday afternoon as the worst of the incidents began, I was with a group of advocates at a press conference prior to a City Council hearing where the City Council voted unanimously to increase funding for out-of-school time and community school programming in the city, a positive step for the community.  The resolution is non-binding but is intended to send a message to the Mayor prior to her sending her budget to the City Council for approval.

Today we are focused on getting out in the community and providing support where we can and also thinking longer term about providing trauma informed care training, and participating in the forums to support youth voice and leadership.  Baltimore is just the most recent stop of this train.

To learn more about the important work being done by youth programs in Baltimore, visit MOST’s Facebook page, where they have highlighted some of the positive contributions young people are making in the community.

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learn more about: Guest Blog State Networks Youth Development
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APR
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Programs know what makes 21st CCLC work and have data to back it up

By Jen Rinehart

A few weeks ago we began highlighting stories of how 21st Century Community Learning Centers are providing high quality after school learning and enrichment for children and youth across America. We started with a story from Kingfisher, Oklahoma followed by Deborah Vandell highlighting the growing afterschool research base. This week, Ed Week jumped in on the action with a story about the 21st CCLC program in Walla Walla, Washington. Below is the latest in the series from Shannon Stagman, Program Director of Evaluation Services at TASC (The After-School Corporation). TASC, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing education and enrichment opportunities to kids in underserved schools, serves as an external evaluator to nearly one-third of 21st CCLC programs in New York City.

As longtime evaluators of numerous 21st Century Community Learning Centers, TASC has seen many programs in action. Features that are always present in high-quality programs include strong school partnerships, dedicated staff and a deep commitment to the academic success and social-emotional wellbeing of students. We asked the directors of two of the grants we evaluate to share their perspective on what makes for a great program.

“A great 21st CCLC program is a vibrant, safe space for creative learning,” said Rachel Chase, Program Director of Hunter CASE, which provides 21C programming at three elementary and middle school sites in the Bronx. “After-school programs offer opportunities for self-expression via art, theater and dance; physical activity via sports and games; and academic support offered with fun, skill-building learning. 21st CCLC allows us to expand learning beyond lectures and examinations; we have the freedom and flexibility to teach students about engineering careers by creating polymers, instill a lifelong relationship with books by traveling to our local library, and learn math skills by breaking codes.”

This flexibility and creativity in programming leads to strong outcomes, with participants at two sites performing three times better in math and two times better in English Language Arts in comparison to students in similar after-school programs.

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APR
14

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate National Library Week: Build a partnership with your local library

By Rachel Clark

Libraries are valuable partners for the afterschool field, and there’s no better time than National Library Week to explore opportunities for collaboration with libraries in your area—with 7 percent of kids attending afterschool programs at libraries, there’s tremendous room for growth in these partnerships.  This year’s National Library Week, which runs through April 18, is focused on the theme “Unlimited possibilities @ your library,” and is the perfect occasion to encourage your local library to partner with out-of-school time program providers in their communities.     

Libraries all over the country have had success offering a wide variety of expanded learning opportunities—there’s plenty of room to get creative and build partnerships in any number of areas!  For example:

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APR
14

IN THE FIELD
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In case you missed it: A recap of the Building Literacy in Afterschool webinar

By Nikki Yamashiro

A geography quiz bowl set in the style of the game show Jeopardy, field trips to cultural institutions, and teaching playwriting while building communication and leadership skills—these are just a few examples of the ways three afterschool programs featured in our webinar earlier this month are engaging their students in literacy and helping to develop their students’ reading, writing and critical thinking skills. 

The Simpson Street Free Press afterschool program located in Dane County, Wisconsin; Positive Direction Youth Center from Terrell County, Georgia; and the 2015 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award winner, New American Pathways’ Bright Futures Afterschool Program from Atlanta, Georgia, shared everything from tips on how to build on—but not replicate—what their students are learning during the school day to components of quality instruction to how to engage parents and families in their child’s education.  Speakers on the webinar also answered questions from the audience on how to foster and sustain student engagement in literacy building activities, how they worked to develop partnerships and relationships with their students’ schools, and how and why they provide targeted support to their students who are struggling in school.

If you missed the webinar, visit our webinar archives page where you can watch the recording; download the PowerPoint slides; and access resources that were included in the webinar from Simpson Street Free Press, Positive Direction Youth Center and New American Pathways’ Bright Futures Afterschool Program.  You can also read more about the important role afterschool programs are playing to help develop their students’ literacy skills in our latest issue brief, “Building Literacy in Afterschool.”

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