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In the Field Snacks
AUG
17
2016

IN THE FIELD
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August Congressional recess is great time for site visits

By Jen Rinehart

Amanda Colecio, 13, shows off a robot that she helped build through the SHINE program. (AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Copyright, Zubek-Miller Photography.)

Every August, the Afterschool Alliance encourages afterschool providers to think about inviting Members of Congress, who are back in their home districts for much of the month, to come visit programs. The Afterschool Alliance offers tools to help plan a site visit, case studies of past site visits, and Q & A blogs with providers who have successfully hosted visits to make it easy to host a policy maker at a program.

Last week, I joined Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA-11) along with his chief of staff, a staff member from Senator Casey’s office, numerous state legislators and legislative staff and local superintendents for a visit to the SHINE Afterschool Program in Jim Thorpe, PA. The SHINE Afterschool Program, funded in part by a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, started in three centers that served 90 students across two counties. This year, it will serve 1,200 students from 16 centers in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.

Creativity and flexibility are key to a successful site visit

SHINE is no stranger to organizing site visits, but they faced a unique challenge that other providers might also face in mid-late August:  no students. SHINE offers summer programming, but it had ended by last week. In August, SHINE's model shifts to focus on home visits as they gear up for a new school year. So, SHINE did what they always do; they innovated. They invited a group of guests to Carbon Career & Technical Institute and arranged for staff, students and parents to give the invited guests a sample of what SHINE has to offer to students and families.

During the visit, we heard about the philosophy and quality principles behind SHINE, we experienced a home visit with one of the SHINE home visit teachers, we observed students engaging in activities similar to the opportunities they have during the school year, and we heard from a grandmother who is raising her grandchildren and values what SHINE has offered her grandkids over the years.

Policy makers praise the benefits of afterschool

Reflecting on his first visit to SHINE in 2011, Rep. Barletta said, “This program is exactly what we need to change the direction and lives of our children… Changing the direction and lives of our children is the best thing we can do for America.”  Rep. Barletta views SHINE as not only a model program for Pennsylvania, but for our country. State Senator Yudichak talked about meeting children and parents who talked about how much SHINE empowered them and how impressed he was by the evidence based, data-driven program that has a success record spanning more than a decade. In his words, “SHINE is improving lives in the classroom, after school and in the community.”

After seeing students using computer design software to design and build cars, program robots and test out engineering skills by building bridges, it became clear why Barletta and Yudichak are such champions. In the end, it was a grandmother who stole the show, by revealing her heartfelt appreciation for SHINE and the help and safety it provides her grandchildren despite lots of challenges.

Congratulations to Rachel Strucko, Director of SHINE and the Pennsylvania Afterschool Network, PSAYDN, for getting state and federal policy makers and local media to see what SHINE is all about, and why state and federal investments in afterschool are so important.  

AUG
9
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Register for National Voter Registration Day on September 27!

By Elizabeth Tish

photo by Amanda Nelson

In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. In 2016, National Voter Registration Day is aiming to make sure more Americans are ready to vote on Election Day this November, and Nonprofit Vote is asking America’s nonprofit organizations to play a part. A coalition of organizations, community leaders and celebrities have already pledged to get out and register voters who might otherwise not have the opportunity to do so when National Voter Registration Day starts on September 27, 2016.

Sign up to become a partner today! When you sign up, you’ll receive a packet of posters, stickers, and a toolkit explaining how you can participate in more detail.

If you’re unsure of how to get involved with the election as a nonprofit, check out the Afterschool Alliance's Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit. It offers information about what an organization can and cannot do as a 501(c)(3), as well as advice about how to make the case for afterschool funding and support to candidates for public office at all levels of government.

After registering for National Voter Registration Day, consider sharing with your networks to get even more people involved:

Sample Tweets:

Celebrate our democracy on Sept 27 by signing up now for National Voter Registration Day at bit.ly/MyNVRD2016 #CelebrateNVRD

Sample Facebook or Google+ Post:

National Voter Registration Day 2016 is around the corner! Just It's never too early to start thinking about how your nonprofit will participate. Sign up now and NVRD will mail you posters, stickers, and a toolkit explaining how to participate. Use this link to sign up: bit.ly/MyNVRD2016 #CelebrateNVRD #BeReady2016 #NPVotesCount #VoterRegistrationDay

You can also share the National Voter Registration Day Facebook event.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2b6eNZ0
learn more about: Advocacy Election Community Partners
AUG
2
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool & Law Enforcement: Building relationships and trust

By Erin Murphy

A photo of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (@phillypal1947) via the Afterschool Alliance on Instagram

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. Through interviews with police officers and public service officials, this post focuses on how afterschool programs and law enforcement partnerships help build relationships and trust between officers and members of the community. For more information on this topic, check out our previous blogs on motivations for partnerships and on the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring.

Partnerships between law enforcement and afterschool are playing an important role in building relationships and trust between police officers and their communities. For example, at the OK Program in Santa Barbara, CA, most students’ interactions with officers prior to their involvement in the program were through late night police calls in response to family or neighborhood disturbances. This trend allowed distrust to grow between youth and officers in their community—until the OK Program provided a way for beneficial relationships to develop.

The Corona Police Department in California had a similar experience, so the department began to look for a way to reach out to young people and give them more positive interactions with law enforcement. Partnering with afterschool programs was a natural way to do this. These partnerships allow officers to interact with youth in their community on a regular basis and support the work providers are already doing to keep kids safe and supported.

In the fledgling stages of these partnerships, many officers were met with reluctance and distrust. Most children and families in the Santa Ana Police Athletic and Activity League were intimidated by interacting with uniformed law enforcement officers, and Sergeant Ron Edwards of San Diego described the first time students met officers at their program as being similar to a high school dance, “except instead of girls and boys on either side of the room, it was youth and law enforcement.” Yet through these partnerships, officers and youth were able to break down barriers and develop strong bonds.

Here are some stories highlighting how officers worked with programs to build relationships and trust:

  • The Massena, NY Police Department recently launched a program called “True Blue”, where uniformed police officers spend a minimum of 30 minutes each day interacting with youth, such as playing street hockey or basketball. They use daily interaction, because the more time youth and officers spend together the stronger their relationships become.
  • Chief Fowler of the Syracuse, NY Police Department has partnered with and led afterschool programs for over 20 years. In his co-ed basketball program for teens, student teams were coached by officers. The students taught officers about basketball, and officers worked with students on team building and sportsmanship.
  • In the Youth Advisory Group, a program started by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, all meetings are focused on team-building between sheriff deputies and youth. They eat, talk, and complete activities together in each session. They also bring the group together to talk about law enforcement and experiment with role playing, allowing both youth and law enforcement to better understand where the other is coming from.
AUG
1
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Teens become health mentors through Health Ambassadors Program

By Robert Abare

When Jason Smith first arrived at Hiram Johnson High School to help turn the struggling school around, he expected to find a community overrun by gangs and violence. “That’s not what I found,” he said. “I found kids with lots of potential, who wanted to do something in their community and make it a better place.”

Smith, who is currently the Director of Health and Wellness for the Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center, quickly identified the school’s health and physical activity environment as a key area for improvement. “Many of the sports teams were having trouble finding recruits, and the cafeteria wasn’t serving healthy foods,” he said. “The kids were not leading healthy lifestyles.”

To help turn this trend around, Smith spearheaded the creation of the Health Ambassadors Program at Hiram Johnson and Luther Burbank High Schools. The Health Ambassadors Program is an out-of-school time collaboration between the Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center and the Sacramento City Unified School District. The program trains high school students to become champions for change in their communities by mentoring elementary and middle school students through nutrition and health education workshops.

The Health Ambassadors Program provides critical academic support, community service experiences and work force development for disadvantaged Sacramento area high school students. “The Health Ambassadors get the opportunity to work in an organization that is deeply involved in the local community, and they gain experience that colleges are looking for,” said Smith.

The first three months of Health Ambassadors’ training consist of educational activities, guest speakers, and a field trip. The next month is focused on guiding the students to create an outreach plan for younger youth who attend elementary and middle schools that feed into Hiram Johnson and Luther Burbank High Schools. Smith explained that the Ambassadors’ training program and outreach plans are influenced by and consistent with the Healthy Eating and Physical Eating (HEPA) standards.

JUL
28
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Duluth YMCA finds 'intentionality' in HEPA standards

By Robert Abare

Kids from the Duluth YMCA visit a local farm. Photo courtesy of Duluth YMCA.

Written by Matt Freeman

When it comes to food choices, children at the YMCA in Duluth, Minnesota, are probably a lot like kids everywhere. “The truth,” says Tracie Clanaugh of the Duluth Y, “is that we’re kind of swimming upstream. Kids want sugary snacks, and many aren’t used to eating vegetables. So we’re not just providing them with nutritious snacks and meals; we’re trying to teach them good habits.”

At the Duluth Y’s afterschool programs, that effort got a big boost from implementation of the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, making good on a commitment by national YMCA leadership to implement the standards at more than 2,700 Ys across the nation.

“In all the work we’ve done,” Clanaugh explains, “HEPA has raised our intentionality around health, nutrition and physical activity. Ys have always been healthy places; it’s who we are. And we moved toward achieving HEPA standards even before there were HEPA standards! But we’ve really appreciated that the new standards have provided that level of intentionality – giving us new tools and helping us think through the goals and the specifics for achieving them.”

At 13 sites across Duluth, Clanaugh’s Y branch operates afterschool programs in partnership with the local school systems. HEPA standards in hand, she and her team met with a district food service manager to work through an afternoon menu, and she says the standards allowed them to dig into the specifics. “In the past, that conversation might have resulted in granola bars and playground time,” she laments – snacks that were too sugary and physical activity time that was too unstructured. “The reality is that we want them to have protein, fruits, vegetables and a balanced snack.” She goes on to explain that HEPA standards have helped the Y find a balance between time on the playground for free play, and more active games that get children running around.

The Y programs also use the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum to help drive home the importance of healthy eating habits and regular physical exercise. It provides lesson plans, goal-setting and the context for one-on-one conversations with children about the importance of nutrition and physical activity.

JUL
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Andrea Szegedy-Maszak, our new Field Outreach Coordinator!

By Andrea Szegedy-Maszak

My name is Andrea Szegedy-Maszak, and I’m excited to introduce myself as the new Field Outreach Coordinator for the Afterschool Alliance! I’m joining the Afterschool Alliance as a recent graduate of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where I completed my B.A. in Biology with a concentration on STEM education. I originally became interested in studying biology after participating in an out-of-school time microbiology program, and I’m thrilled to be contributing to the Afterschool Alliance’s mission to promote those opportunities for young people around the country.

During my time at Bard College, I focused my studies and extracurricular work around the development of curricula, educational tools and programming to support informal STEM education. I volunteered with a number of afterschool STEM programs, including hosting a weekly science club for K-5 students and serving as a mentor for a local public school’s annual science fair. Building on those experiences, in 2014 a peer and I organized and directed a series of free, week-long summer STEM camp sessions hosted at local libraries in the Hudson Valley. I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of afterschool and summer programming to engage and excite students who may not have felt confident pursuing STEM in the classroom, and I deeply value the opportunities these programs can provide. 

As a Field Outreach Coordinator, I’ll be working with the Afterschool Alliance VISTA team to coordinate and support the members of the new nationwide STEM Ecosystem VISTA project. STEM Ecosystems are multi-organization, cross-sector partnerships that share the common goal of making STEM learning widely available and a top priority for their communities. I’ll be supporting our VISTAs as they work to enhance the accessibility and quality of resources for Ecosystem partners, STEM educators and community members, and promote the capacity and sustainability of Ecosystem-supported programming.

JUL
20
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Elizabeth Tish, our new Special Assistant to the Executive Director

By Elizabeth Tish

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Tish and I’m the new Special Assistant to the Executive Director here at the Afterschool Alliance. My first experience with afterschool occurred in high school, when I participated in a summer learning program focused on college access and success. The program taught me how to succeed as a first generation college student—lessons I’m thankful for to this day. I’m excited to be here at the Afterschool Alliance, where I can work toward the goal of more students having a transformational experience in an afterschool program like I did!

I graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with my BA in Public Policy this past December, and have completed two internships here in Washington, D.C. focusing on access to higher education and college affordability. While completing my degree, I had the opportunity to return to my summer program and complete research on what it means to enter college as an underserved student, as well as share my experiences in college with high school students who would soon start that process themselves.  

As Special Assistant, I will provide administrative and program support to the Executive Director, as well as work on special projects. I’m looking forward to learning more about the management of a national nonprofit like the Afterschool Alliance. I also hope to study and share the ways that afterschool programs can offer career and college readiness programming for their participants, especially programs that serve communities with many potential first generation college students like mine.  

share this link: http://bit.ly/29MlzSD
learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance
JUL
18
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: 10 ways to engage youth in the election

By Robert Abare

Written by Rachel Roberson, who leads the Letters to the Next President project for KQED

With the 2016 election prominent in the minds of voting-age Americans, one might wonder how young people can participate in the conversation about our country’s political future. Even if they are not old enough to cast their votes in November, youth have an undeniable stake in the outcome of this year’s presidential election. So how do we engage them in a meaningful way?

Letters to the Next President is a project that invites young people ages 13 to 18 to make their voices heard by writing letters or creating multimedia projects about election issues that matter to them. The initiative, organized by the National Writing Project, KQED Public Media and a coalition of partners including the Afterschool Alliance, has assembled a robust collection of resources for educators to help youth create letters.

Here are ten resources to help you engage youth this election year:

  1. Election Central 2016 from PBS LearningMedia
    At Election Central 2016, teachers will find tools, resources and creative solutions to educate students on the various facets of the political process. With content about the process and history of elections, these tools help turn news coverage into learning opportunities.
  2. Election Collection from NYTimes Learning Network
    Election news will dominate the headlines all summer long. Here are a few ways students can keep up with the candidates, campaigns, conventions and controversies — and make their own opinions heard.
  3. Letters to the Next President 2.0 Kick-off Webinar
    In this hangout educators described the power of participating in the previous iteration of L2P and highlighted the growing set of opportunities and resources available to educators supporting youth engagement for the 2016 Presidential Election.
  4. A Teacher’s Perspective from Edutopia
    Ellen Shelton, Site Director at the University of Mississippi Writing Project and former high school teacher in Tupelo, Mississippi, explains why she believes supporting this kind of political discussion in the classroom can have a deep impact on students now and in the future.
  5. Teaching the Art of Civil Dialogue
    Educator Chris Sloan reflects on using resources from Do Now, a weekly activity for students to engage and respond to current issues using social media tools.
  6. Developing and Discussing Political Views In the Classroom
    Educator Janelle Bence discusses some of her strategies for supporting students in discussing a wide range of political opinions in the classroom.
  7. Election Activities Outside the Classroom
    This blog post provides educators with a guide for developing L2P 2.0 letter-writing into a focused, whole-class civic action effort.
  8. NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program
    The goal of this mini-unit is to support students as they explore the purpose and format of Letters to the Next President 2.0, choose an issue worth writing about, gather information from multiple sources, develop a claim and write a complete argument draft.
  9. Argumentative Writing from Teaching Channel
    This video contains an in-depth conversation on lesson planning for reading and writing, identifying main ideas and developing arguments.
  10. Dear Next President from PBS NewsHour Extra
    Encourage youth to talk about election issues that matter to them by producing a video letter to our next president.  Find key steps to creating a video for Letters to the Next President along with examples and tutorials to help young media makers get started.

To explore this initiative in more detail, we encourage you to check out the youth letters from the first iteration of Letters to the Next President in 2008. You can also find more resources at letters2president.org, and sign up to receive monthly bulletins about new ways to participate.