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In the Field Snacks
JAN
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: 3 recommendations for officers

By Elizabeth Tish

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this post as part of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. For more information on the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local police, check out our previous blogs on building relationships and trust, the motivations for partnerships, tools for working with school resource officers, and a Lights On Afterschool event that forged a new relationship with law enforcement.

Cops and kids come together to shoot hoops after school at the Police Athletic League.

In 2016, the Afterschool Alliance talked to police officers and afterschool programs about partnerships between law enforcement and afterschool. Throughout the process we learned that law enforcement can be an important and unique partner for afterschool programs. To help jumpstart new partnerships in communities across the country, the officers we spoke with offered advice for other officers and afterschool programs looking to collaborate.

Be passionate.

When choosing officers to get involved in this work, include those who are passionate about the mission. At the Burlington Police Department in Burlington, Iowa, officers are encouraged to be involved with PIECES, their local afterschool program, but not required. Major Darren Grimshaw, the officer in charge of community engagement, sends officers who want to be involved to the program while on duty. The department supports this initiative as a large facet of their community relations work. Some officers even work with the program when they are off duty.

Officer Jeff Hedtke, who runs the California Gang Resistance Intervention and Prevention program (CalGRIP) through the Corona Police Department, says the reason his program is successful is that his officers are sincere with the kids who participate. “If they don’t think you care, they won’t buy in,” he explained.

Consider stakeholder needs.

Officers, kids, parents, and the community are all affected by afterschool programs. Consider as many stakeholders’ needs as possible when designing a new program or programming. When the Child Center of New York at Basie Beacon IS 72 decided to invite police officers to their program, they worked together with their youth council to design the event to fit students’ needs.

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learn more about: Youth Development Community Partners
JAN
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy through service

By Rachel Clark

By Ronni Nelson, a My Brother’s Keeper VISTA working to increase access to high-quality educational, enrichment and mentoring opportunities for young men of color in Tennessee.

Volunteers get ready to volunteer at Lonsdale Elementary School.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the day set aside to commemorate one of our most revered civil rights leaders and activists, is also a day that we should strive to live out the values of justice, peace, and service that he believed in so deeply and manifested so profoundly.

Each year, the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) AmeriCorps program and Emerald Youth Foundation coordinate a joint MLK Day of Service project to serve the local community in honor of this day. For this year’s Day of Service, approximately 60 AmeriCorps and community members, including myself, spent this past Saturday volunteering at Lonsdale Elementary School to work on a variety of beautification projects. Service projects included community cleanup with several litter street teams, landscaping work around the school, and organizing some outdoor and indoor storage spaces.

My group worked to organize the school’s basement, a task that seemed daunting at first sight, but our efforts resulted in a much more organized and usable space.  The litter street teams worked diligently to remove more than 75 bags of trash from the surrounding area. After a morning of hard work, the volunteers refueled with some well-earned pizza and learned a bit more about the diverse school and community they had served, including background on Lonsdale’s very multicultural community—most of the school’s student population is composed of Guatemalan and Honduran immigrants and African refugees.

As a My Brother’s Keeper VISTA working toward closing the racial achievement gap in reading proficiency, it was so meaningful to me to honor one of our greatest champions of racial justice at an elementary school that exemplifies the type of interracial and intercultural community to which Dr. King dedicated his life. In one of his last sermons, Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed the hope that someone would say he had spent his life trying “to love and serve humanity.” Let us all continue working towards his dream of a united nation by continuing to serve our local communities throughout the rest of the year as well. 

JAN
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Partnerships with libraries: Share your thoughts and win!

By Melissa Ballard

The Afterschool Alliance, along with the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net), an initiative from the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute and the American Library Association, wants to know if and how afterschool providers are working with public libraries.

Our goals are to build bridges between the afterschool and library fields, so that both can share knowledge and resources to better serve our youth. Even if you’ve never worked with a public library before, take our survey—your thoughts and experiences will help inform our future work!

The survey should take 20 minutes or less to complete, and everyone who completes it will be entered to win one of our fabulous prizes!

Take the survey today! The survey will close on Wednesday, February 1, so don’t delay.

We are grateful to WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS for generously offering their afterschool curriculum as a prize! WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS are richly illustrated, word-less books that inspire kids of all ages to become published authors of their own storybooks, each receiving published, hardcover copies of their self-authored, original tales!

Students write collaboratively and independently in an exciting Project-Based Learning experience that ignites self-expression and inventive storytelling, while developing essential 21st Century skills. Upon completion of their books, students upload their stories onto the WRiTE BRAiN BOOK BUiLDER, and publish them!

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learn more about: Science Community Partners
JAN
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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7 tips for connecting with newly elected officials on social media

By Rachel Clark

As elected officials take office in communities across the country, we in the afterschool field have an important opportunity to introduce ourselves to newly elected officials, reconnect with reelected policy makers, and remind our representatives of afterschool’s impact in the communities they serve.

The first things you should do: familiarize yourself with winning candidates’ priorities and stances on the issues, write introductory letters to newly elected officials, and invite policy makers to visit your afterschool program.

But as you wait for your letters to be delivered or to get a visit scheduled, reaching out to your representatives online is an easy and effective way to put afterschool on their radar. Here’s how:

  1. New to social media? Learn the basics. Our social media resources include introductory Facebook and Twitter tipsheets, popular hashtags in the afterschool community, and two webinars on social media strategy.
  2. Find out how to get in touch with your representatives. Find social media handles for your local policy makers in our interactive database. Simply enter your program’s address to see if the local, state and federal officials who represent you are active on social media and how you can reach them.
  3. Make it clear that you’re a constituent. Policy makers’ offices receive thousands of letters, emails, and social media messages each day, so they generally only have time to acknowledge and respond to residents of their own districts. If your city and state aren’t publicly available on the social media profile you’re using for your outreach, it won’t be clear that you’re a constituent, and your message is much more likely to be ignored.
  4. Tell the stories of the people who are impacted by your program. Collect short anecdotes from students, parents, teachers, local business leaders, law enforcement officers, and other community partners explaining in a few words why afterschool works for them. Tell your program’s story through their testimonials by sharing those quotes with elected officials on social media.
  5. Run the numbers. Policy makers want to know how issues affect their constituents. Supplement personal stories from your program with America After 3PM statistics from your state to drive home the widespread demand and support for afterschool programs in your community.
  6. Mention your federal or state funding streams. Does your program get funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the Child Care Development Fund, or other federal or state funding streams? Be sure to note that in your outreach to emphasize the importance of these investments (e.g. “With support from Community Learning Centers, kids in [program name] are performing better in math.”).
  7. Have a specific ask. Your outreach should drive toward a goal—ideally, getting an elected official or a member of their staff to visit your program and see afterschool in action! When you connect with policy makers on social media, try to include a few words inviting them to see afterschool for themselves. Afterschool Ambassador Brent Cummings successfully used this tactic to secure a site visit from a U.S. Senator!  

We know from academic research and surveys of congressional staff that policy makers are listening to constituent voices on social media. In one survey, 80 percent of congressional staff reported that getting their attention takes fewer than 30 posts or comments about an issue! For state and local officials, the threshold to get afterschool on their radar is likely even lower.

With online outreach, a small investment of time can make a big impact and help lay the foundation for a long and rewarding partnership with your representatives.

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learn more about: Advocacy Marketing
JAN
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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4 ways you can connect with newly elected officials

By Elizabeth Tish

Tempe, AZ Mayor Mark Mitchell poses with students of Broadmor Kid Zone

This month, elected officials around the country step into office. This is an important time to reach out to your newly elected officials and remind them of afterschool’s role in your community, district or state. Offer to be a resource on the issue, and invite them to come see your program firsthand.

Not sure where to start? Here are some basic tips for reaching out to your representatives at all levels.

  1. Review statements, platforms and media coverage to make sure you understand the winning candidate’s position. Find a way to connect afterschool to their passion. Is their chief concern is creating jobs in your community? Tell them how afterschool offers workforce development opportunities.
  2. Write the official to offer to be a resource on afterschool, and to set up a site visit to a local program. You can use our sample letter to get started. It is often helpful to provide information about the impact of afterschool in your community—and it’s easy to do so with data points about afterschool in your state from the America After 3PM dashboard. Facts combined with relatable anecdotes can work together to create a strong narrative about the impact of afterschool. If you work with a program that receives 21st Century Community Learning Center funding, you should also be sure let them know about the impact it has.
  3. Invite the official to visit an afterschool program. When Afterschool Ambassador Kim Templeman contacted Congressman Tom Cole to visit her program, she called and left emails with his office. A representative from his office visited her program, and then encouraged the Congressman to attend too! During his visit, Rep. Cole saw firsthand what afterschool looks like, and Kim was able to show him the direct impact of federal funds on her program. This type of personal interaction can help any official understand more of what you do and how you do it—whether they represent you on a federal, state or local level. Before the official leaves, make sure to give them materials to take back to their office so they can start making the case for afterschool. Check out our advocacy basics to learn more.
  4. Stay in touch! After your visit, write the official to thank them for attending, and reiterate any points that you think are important for them to remember. You might also think about thanking them publicly, through social media or a blog about their visit. This is a good place to provide photos and stories, so those who aren’t able to physically attend your program can see what it looks like as well. Don’t forget to follow up, so that when you need support, you have a warm relationship to ask for it.

Want to make an impact while you’re in the process of reaching out to officials? Contact Congress, sign the petition, or write your newspaper.

Want to learn more about the impact of the election?  Read about education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, how the election played out at the state level, and the new Congress.  

DEC
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Looking back at 2016 in the afterschool field

By Rachel Clark

2016 was an eventful year for the United States and the world, and the changes that were set into motion this year are impacting the afterschool field just as they’ve affected communities across the country.

As we look ahead to the year to come, take a moment to bid farewell to 2016 and look back at some of the biggest moments of the year.

  1. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Election Day was easily the most consequential moment of 2016 for our country. Take a look at our early analysis of what the Trump Administration could mean for the afterschool field.
  2. A new Congress was elected. Though Donald Trump’s victory was the biggest story on Election Day, the afterschool field should pay close attention to the 115th Congress, which is set to make big moves in the next several months. Learn what afterschool advocates should look for in the first few months of 2017.
  3. New research highlighted the wide-ranging impact of America’s afterschool programs. This year, we finished up the 2014 America After 3PM series with our first-ever special reports on afterschool in rural America and afterschool in communities of concentrated poverty. New reports also highlighted the impacts of afterschool STEM and the state of computer science education in afterschool.
  4. Lights On Afterschool partnered with two NBA teams to kick off the 2016 celebration. In one of our most exciting Lights On kickoffs to date, we joined NBA Math Hoops to celebrate afterschool with a Math Hoops tournament before the Golden State Warriors faced off against the Sacramento Kings in San Jose, Calif. The tournament winners—and the beginning of the national rally for afterschool programs—were even recognized at halftime!
  5. Notable shifts occurred in state legislatures. With party control switching in seven chambers and voters in two states passing three ballot initiatives that could impact afterschool funding, November 8 was an important day at the ballot box for many states.
  6. President-elect Trump announced his nominee for education secretary. Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist and former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan, is a longtime school choice advocate whose family foundation has supported local afterschool providers in the past.
  7. Diverse partnerships brightened Lights On Afterschool 2016. From the tenth annual lighting of the Empire State Building in honor of afterschool to a Senate resolution recognizing the celebration, partnerships at the local, state and national levels made this year’s rally shine.

What was the biggest moment of 2016 for you and your afterschool program? We want to hear from you! Share a photo of your favorite or most important memory on Instagram and tag @afterschool4all for a chance to be featured. 

DEC
23
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating our AmeriCorps VISTAs' 2016 accomplishments

By Andrea Szegedy-Maszak

Members of the VISTA team gathered on the National Mall in September.

For the last five years, the Afterschool Alliance has been a proud sponsor organization for nationwide AmeriCorps VISTA projects. VISTA, which stands for “Volunteers in Service to America,” is a 50-year-old service program with the central mission of alleviating poverty through capacity building for nonprofit organizations. VISTA members are considered full-time federal volunteers during their one-year term of service.

Our VISTA program—and the scope of our VISTAs’ work to support the afterschool field—has grown significantly over the past five years. Most recently, we’ve added VISTAs dedicated to supporting the STEM Ecosystem Initiative, as well as VISTAs focusing on mentoring opportunities for young men of color. Read on to learn more about our VISTAs’ work and a few highlights from 2016.

Our VISTAs’ major highlights from 2016

Oklahoma STEM Ecosystem VISTAs Sabrina Bevins and Aleia McNaney have taken on leadership roles in the planning of a Women in STEM book club and event series surrounding the release of the film Hidden Figures, culminating with a screening of the film. Sabrina has signed on a number of female STEM professionals to mentor young girls in Tulsa over the course of the program.

Thanks to Sabrina’s successful partner outreach, Cox Media has agreed to run four radio campaigns in promotion of the program, and a local theater company has donated a screening room that seats more than 400. Aleia has been spearheading communications efforts for the Hidden Figures program, including designing promotional materials for a book drive held Tuesday, November 29 in support of the book club.

New Jersey Meals VISTA Jaimie Held has been making strides in expanding afterschool and summer meals for kids and families in Newark, N.J. Jaimie created partnerships with local food banks to host afterschool and summer meals open house events in 2017. She also scheduled an afterschool and summer meals open house in January 2017 at Newark’s Bolden Student Center to recruit new afterschool and summer meal sites.

DEC
19
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: PIECES After School Program & Burlington Police Department

By Elizabeth Tish

This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants and providers of afterschool programs. This post is also an installment in our new Afterschool & Law Enforcement series, which explores the ways afterschool programs are partnering with police to keep communities safe and growing strong. Our latest installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series focused on Lights On Afterschool event that fostered a new connection between the NYPD and a New York City afterschool program.

A police officer out of his uniform, running a flag football club in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Detectives mentoring students in a Crime Scene Investigation club. Female police officers talking with girls about what it’s like to be a woman in law enforcement. These are just a few glimpses into the ongoing activities spurred by the collaboration between PIECES, an afterschool program in rural Iowa, and the Burlington Police Department.

The partnership began in 2013, when PIECES afterschool program director Jackie Swink approached the local police department to support her application for a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant. Around the same time, Major Darren Grimshaw and the Burlington Police Department were having internal conversations about new ways to engage with the community. This confluence of events led to a strong partnership between the two organizations—ever since, officers have been present in the afterschool program, connecting with students and working to build relationships and trust to break down barriers between youth and the police.

Today, PIECES offers programs at two middle schools and an elementary school in rural Burlington, Iowa, serving about 70 students at each site. PIECES offers diverse programming for students, with an emphasis on developing community partnerships—in addition to the police department’s involvement, partners include local hospitals, grocery stores and banks. As Major Grimshaw explained, “It gives all of us an opportunity to sit down with these kids and get to know who they are.”

Major Grimshaw and officers in the department are involved with PIECES in a variety of ways and at varying levels that suit the mutual needs of the officers and the program. The school resource officer, who splits his time between the two middle schools, is a consistent presence with his daily participation. Other officers come and go, either informally stopping by or using shared interests to develop lasting bonds with the students, like the investigators who host a CSI club night to teach students the basics of fingerprinting and crime scene investigation.