Guest Blog by Reinaldo Llano, director of corporate outreach and special projects at Bright House Networks. Reinaldo leads community relations at Bright House Networks, one of the nation's largest cable and Internet providers.
Do you know a high school student whose creative genius is aspiring to unfold?
It’s been said that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. They’re also tomorrow’s innovators and inventors. They are OUR future. They are the ones who can help create new opportunities for our local economies to prosper and flourish.
We are proud to support Bright Ideas STEM from Today's Youth, a multi-state competition where students dream up the coolest inventions to make their own life, community or even the world more awesome and show how STEM—that's science, technology, engineering and math—can bring their idea to life!
Pres. Obama was joined by Former Pres. Bill Clinton last Friday for a special AmeriCorps swearing-in ceremony on the White House lawn in celebration of the program’s 20th anniversary. Several thousand AmeriCorps volunteers were sworn into service at more than 80 ceremonies across the country.
The first class of AmeriCorps volunteers were sworn into service on Sept. 12, 1994. Since that day, more than 900,000 volunteers have worked with community organizations across the country, particularly those providing afterschool and summer learning programs. AmeriCorps currently engages more than 75,000 men and women at more than 15,000 locations including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country. During their year of service, AmeriCorps members help communities with a wide range of issues including disaster services, economic opportunity, education and healthy futures. AmeriCorps volunteers are a key part of the afterschool workforce. They provide essential staffing for many programs, where they mentor, teach skills such as computer programming, and coach sports. AmeriCorps members make it possible for afterschool programs to serve children and youth in many communities.
In the United States, 7.5 million students miss 10 percent of the school year. That’s 135 million days total. More than 40 organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, are working in partnership to raise awareness about the connection between attendance and academic achievement by celebrating Attendance Awareness Month. Schools and organizations across the country are putting on events this month. A map of events, a toolkit for putting on your own event and suggestions for media outreach can be found on the Attendance Awareness Month website.
Afterschool has been shown to have a significant impact on student’s school day attendance rates:
Mo’ne Davis, the first female Little Leaguer to pitch a winning game at the Little League World Series and also the first Little Leaguer ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, was introduced to baseball in an afterschool program, ABC News reports:
“Davis's love of sport blossomed early. Steve Bandura of the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation noticed Davis six years ago holding her own at football against the boys. Bandura introduced Davis to the Marian Anderson Recreation Center's after-school program that includes time spent on homework and sports. From there, Davis and the program were inseparable.”
The Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia is home to the Anderson Monarchs, which fields baseball, basketball and soccer teams. Research shows that programs that utilize the afterschool space as a site for enjoying physical activity and learning about healthful lifestyles can improve student health outcomes.
In many parts of the country, summer is drawing to a close as many kids are heading back to the classroom during the final days of August. For children that rely on federal child nutrition programs, back to school also means back to consistent, healthful and nutritious meals, including those provided by the Department of Agriculture’s At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program.
If you're not already serving afterschool meals in your program, consider participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program. Afterschool programs with more than 50 percent of their students receiving free and reduced price school lunches are eligible to serve these meals. Participating in the program is easy and it gives you the opportunity to build community partnerships with your school district’s school nutrition department and anti-hunger advocacy organizations.
Whether you're just starting to serve afterschool meals or are looking to increase participation in your program, the following tips should help you successfully maximize participation:
Guest Blog: After-School All-Stars youth leaders from across the nation converge on Washington, D.C.
Guest blog by Alyssa Plotkin, national program assistant for the After-School All-Stars.
“Because of After-School All-Stars, I feel like I’m important, that my opinion matters. I’m so fortunate to have been chosen to be a yabbie. I feel happier, more social and more knowledgeable.” – Citlali of ASAS Los Angeles
After-School All-Stars (ASAS), a leading national provider of comprehensive out-of-school-time programs that serves more than 90,000 children in 13 cities across the U.S.—brought 40 extraordinary 8th grade leaders and staff to Washington, D.C., in July for a week-long leadership summit. Each chapter, from New York to Hawaii, selected an outstanding student-based on their leadership abilities, strong attendance, academic performance and unwavering commitment to community service.
Guest Blog: Afterschool programs addressing healthy living and food insecurity through HEPA standards
Pam Watkins is the vice president of youth development services at YMCA Youth Development Services in Kansas City, Kansas, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador.
The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is one of many afterschool programs nationwide that has embraced the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Recently, at one of our afterschool sites with a high rate of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, we had a family that had just moved here from California and enrolled four of their children in our program. The oldest child, Juan (name has been changed to keep anonymity), was ever-watchful over his siblings and was constantly correcting them if they were doing something inappropriate. After about a week the site supervisor overheard Juan tell his siblings that they needed to eat a snack because their mom had said she wasn't sure whether they would have dinner that night or not. When the site supervisor pulled Juan off to the side, he told her that his dad had still not found a job and his mom was working two part time jobs—but it still wasn't enough and they usually didn't have money for food.
Wendy Broderick is Chief Development Office of the YMCA of Columbia, SC, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador
In August 2011, the YMCA of the USA adopted the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards (HEPA Standards) for their afterschool and summer day camp programs. The HEPA Standards outline goals for 1) the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages provided in afterschool programs and those foods and beverages consumed in summer day camps and 2) the amount of physical activity children accumulate while attending these programs.
The YMCA of Columbia and personnel from University of South Carolina partnered together to create strategies to meet the HEPA Standards. A collaborative workgroup met monthly from September 2011 to May 2012 to identify areas where the programs could be modified, without substantial monetary investment, to achieve the HEPA Standards. The result of these meetings was the development of a comprehensive and coordinated set of strategies called STEPs to HEPA (Strategies To Enhance Practice). STEPs to HEPA were adopted January 2012. Evaluation before the strategies were implemented took place during July, September, and October 2011. Evaluation of the impact of the strategies took place April 2012 through August 2013.