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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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In the Field Snacks
JUL
1

IN THE FIELD
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Six cities launch citywide and year-round learning initiatives

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.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Education Reform Summer Learning Academic Enrichment
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JUN
30

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Statewide afterschool networks building badge ecosystems

By Nikki Yamashiro

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 SmithsonianProvidence 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. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog State Networks
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JUN
29

IN THE FIELD
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2 events, 2 days, 2 great opportunities for afterschool

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. 

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Department of Education Equity Events and Briefings Federal Policy Obama Summer Learning Working Families
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JUN
25

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Digital badges in Rhode Island

By Sarah Simpson

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?

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog State Networks Youth Development
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JUN
24

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Recognizing learning and skills with digital badges

By Sarah Simpson

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. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Education Reform Guest Blog State Networks Youth Development
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JUN
23

IN THE FIELD
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NYC expands access to afterschool programs for middle school students

By Erik Peterson

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.

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learn more about: Equity Sustainability Youth Development
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JUN
19

IN THE FIELD
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Power down & celebrate summer

By Ursula Helminski

This weekend, longtime afterschool supporter Torani Syrups has posed a positive challenge:  take the Power Down Pledge and #PowerDown your devices, and connect up with friends, family and community to celebrate the start of summer.  They’ve been posting some creative ideas for your Power Down activity: family camping in the living room, using a cell phone pile where no one is allowed to look at their device for the duration of the meal, or going on a celestial scavenger hunt with help from NASA

Afterschool programs are taking up the challenge, too, displaying the creative energy that we all love about our field—from families creating a 3D town using supplies they are donating to a local pantry, to a family dinner night at an animal shelter where families make doggie treats and read to the animals!

We’re all in here at the Afterschool Alliance, and I hope you will join us—take the Power Down Pledge—and celebrate the start of summer this weekend as we will, connecting with those around us.

For the past nine years, Torani’s Art for Kids project has highlighted the importance of afterschool programs nationwide by featuring the artwork of afterschool students on limited-edition beverage labels. The company donates a percentage of the sales of the limited edition bottles to the Afterschool Alliance.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Summer Learning Community Partners
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JUN
16

IN THE FIELD
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State and national partners working together to promote healthful out-of-school-time programs

By Jen Rinehart

Last month, state afterschool leaders from across the country were together in Washington, D.C., to share strategies for advancing afterschool and to discuss the ways that afterschool supports students and families.  At the meeting, there was a lively discussion about the role of afterschool in supporting health and wellness for students. 

In recent years, national afterschool providers like the Y of the USA, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America have pledged to adopt the National AfterSchool Association’s  Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards.  To expand beyond the national organizations’ affiliates, several statewide afterschool networks are working to get more programs, regardless of their national affiliation, to adopt the standards.  For example:

  • The Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network is directly connecting programs with partners and resources that support healthful behaviors; serving as a clearinghouse of information, partnering with the US Tennis Association and working with the Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger by 2015 to help ensure healthful snacks and meals are served throughout the school year and during the summer.   Check out one of their resources: Eat, Play, Learn: Out of School Time in Action.
  • OregonASK and its partners have teamed up to offer a Health and Wellness Toolkit and Afterschool Curriculum.  During the 2013-2014 school year the curriculum was piloted at the Woodburn After School Program. The toolkit is available free from OregonASK for use by afterschool programs across the state and beyond.
  • In South Carolina, both the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and the YMCA of Columbia have been playing a statewide leadership role.  The YMCA of Columbia partnered with the University of South Carolina to create and evaluate strategies to meet the standards and is now working to help other Ys across the state adopt and meet the HEPA standards using these tested strategies.  The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance is working with the South Carolina Obesity Council to include afterschool and the adoption of the HEPA standards as strategies in the South Carolina Obesity State Plan.  Finally, both organizations are working with the University of South Carolina to develop centers of excellence—programs that are making the most progress in implementing the standards, strategically located across the state to help other programs come on board. 

All three of these states are working closely with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which offers no-cost online tools and resources to help afterschool providers create healthful environments for young people.  Working together, state and national organizations can help ensure that local afterschool programs act as key partners in comprehensive efforts to ensure healthy futures for our youth.  Check out the resources, links and policy tools from the Afterschool Alliance here

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learn more about: Health and Wellness State Networks Community Partners
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