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In the Field Snacks
JAN
30
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Building workforce skills with students of all ages at Sunrise of Philadelphia

By Leah Silverberg

In 1999, Sunrise of Philadelphia (Sunrise) was founded as part of a local technical high school to provide career and technical education programming to high school students and adults in the Philadelphia community. Keeping their focus on developing workforce skills, Sunrise now works primarily with school-age youth and provides a scaffolded approach to programming with their K-12 students.

While developing skills and competencies that help students succeed in the workforce is typically associated with programming for older students, foundational skills (such as teamwork, problem solving, and effective communicatio) are transferable to many professional contexts and can start to be developed with younger students. At Sunrise, students are never too young to start developing valuable skills that will help them reach future success.

Programming for younger students at Sunrise focuses on identifying students' strengths and opening their minds to the future.

JAN
29
2018

IN THE FIELD
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HEPA Success Story: The Alliance of New York State YMCAs

By Faith Savaiano

In recent years, many states across the country have started to seek government support to enact policies aimed at increasing healthy practices in out-of-school time environments. While many of these efforts are just beginning, few advocates have seen as much immediate success as the Alliance of New York State YMCAs. Now going into its third year of state-supported funding, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs, or “the Alliance,” has secured a cumulative $1.3 million for increasing the uptake of the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards.

The Alliance first began to pursue HEPA policy changes at the state level four years ago, when the YMCA was awarded a Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Through a series of conversations with YMCA staff and volunteers, the Alliance determined that training and equipment were necessary to fully implement the HEPA Standards at YMCAs across New York. 

According to Kyle Stewart, the Alliance’s executive director, once funding for HEPA training and equipment was deemed a priority for YMCAs in New York and the populations that they serve, the Alliance set out to secure support from state lawmakers and policymakers.

“We held meetings and follow-up conversations with the legislative leadership in both houses and the governor’s office, to help us gauge interest and build a blueprint for our strategy,” said Stewart. “Once we identified our strategy, we had to stay flexible because the ‘right approach’ can be a moving target.”

JAN
18
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Promising practices: EPIC program introduces youth to rural employment opportunities

By Leah Silverberg

In 2014, a unique partnership formed between the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, The City After-School Program, and the Kansas Enrichment Network to introduce students to career pathways in Salina, Kans. Career opportunities can seem limited for many students growing up in rural communities but in Salina, many jobs go unfilled.

After the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of local businesses, it recognized an existing need to fill certain jobs in the community. As part of the Chamber's long-term goal to support and sustain the workforce in Salina, the Chamber decided to focus on building the skills of Salina-area students. To start, the Chamber partnered with the Kansas Enrichment Network, the State’s afterschool network to support and expand access to out-of-school time learning. From there, Education Practice and Immersion for Credit (EPIC) was created to connect middle school students to career opportunities in Salina, in the hope that they will choose to pursue a career pathway in Salina in the future.

Over the past three years, EPIC has been piloted through The City, an afterschool program located at the local teen center. Using a digital badging system, each unit of EPIC focuses on an industry within Salina identified by the Chamber of Commerce survey as an industry of growth.

"The goal of the badges," said Eric Brown, former member of the Chamber of Commerce and founder of EPIC, "is to build hope, enthusiasm, and understanding of career exploration: what they [students] like and don’t like, and try to introduce career and college opportunities in junior high."

JAN
11
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I wanted to create something ... that shared the power and impact of my afterschool program"

By Guest Blogger

By Kaleb Robertson.

Kaleb is a senior at Green Bay West High School and was recently named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador for 2016-17 by the Afterschool Alliance. He has been attending the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay afterschool program for more than five years. This letter outlines his experiences in this program and how they have influenced his path and future successes.

I originally came to the Boys and Girls Club because I had friends who attended. While I initially thought it was just a place to hang out, I quickly learned that the Club had a lot more to offer afterschool and in the summer. Caring staff who serve as mentors, leadership development opportunities, and future planning are just a few of the benefits I have been able to experience. None of these things would have been possible for me if not for my afterschool program.

One of the first programs I joined was the Be Great: Graduate program. ‘Be Great’ is a program that matches a teen with a staff member or ‘graduation coach’. My coach, Greg, has made sure that I have kept good grades and stay safe. He’s someone I know I can talk to, even though he is my formal mentor. And there are lots of other Club staff who have helped me along the way. I am comfortable knowing that whenever I come to the Club, there is always someone I can go to for guidance, support, and advice.

The Club also has great leadership opportunities, including the Keystone Club. Keystone is a program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and practice leadership and community service. Keystone members complete and document service hours, organize fundraisers, and serve as leaders within the Club, even helping to make decisions that impact other kids. I became involved with Keystone since I started coming to Club, and have served as the Keystone President. I even got to attend the National Keystone Conference in 2016!

Besides being a leader, the Club has also helped realize and plan my future. Ms. Tori, the Club’s Graduation Specialist, has helped me stay on track and get my college applications done. Along with helping me plan financially how to stay afloat with my money and pointing me towards many scholarship opportunities, she has also coordinated several campus visits so I have a better idea of what I’m looking for in a college.

For my Youth Ambassador project, I wanted to create something that I could give to people that shared the power and impact my afterschool program has had on me. I will be taking pictures of programs around the Club and turning them into a photo storybook. This way I will not only be able to tell my story to people, but also leave a copy of it behind for them to share with others. 

My afterschool experience has been nothing short of transformational. It has helped me stay on track to graduate and also helped me to realize what my future can look like. Every kid should be able to access the same opportunities that I have. Afterschool programs make a difference!

JAN
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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How to make afterschool health and wellness resolutions a reality

By Tiereny Lloyd

At the beginning of each year, most of us set personal goals that we would like to accomplish. Although the list of New Year’s resolutions vary from person to person, eating better and exercising more are two of the most popular resolutions we make. As we start the year, let’s not only resolve to make healthier choices for ourselves but to also commit to creating heathier learning environments for our children. 

Since out-of-school-time programs provide a host of supports for students, finding an effective, easy-to-implement healthy eating and physical activity strategy can be somewhat challenging. To that end, here are a few tips to help you improve the health and wellness of students in your programs.

Set clear, individualized, and achievable goals

Start with the end in mind by identifying clear, achievable goals that are specific to your program. When developing goals, keep in mind that they should be measurable, budget-aware, and suited to your staff capacity. A good resource to establish appropriate physical activity and nutrition program goals are the National AfterSchool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. Remember, you don’t have to achieve every standard at once or in one year. Take your time and go at a pace that makes sense for your program.

JAN
5
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Conquering the high school transition with Road Map to Graduation

By Guest Blogger

By Roger Figueroa, program coordinator at Latin American Youth Center - Maryland Multicultural Youth Center. 

The transition for rising ninth graders is one filled with twists, turns, pitfalls, and barriers: the new and often larger environment, changes in academic responsibility, increased number of peer influences, and a new social structure can all be overwhelming. The LAYC-Maryland Multicultural Youth Center Road Map to Graduation program aims to create a supportive pathway for students.

The program seeks to provide wrap-around services to support students during their transition through Road Map workshops, an intensive five-week summer bridge program, after-school academic assistance, individual development plans, case management, and parent engagement.

JAN
4
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town"

By Guest Blogger

By Harli Jo McKinney

Welcome to our new blog series introducing the inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors! Building on the success of the Afterschool Ambassadors program, the Youth Ambassadors program connects five young people with alumni Afterschool Ambassadors to serve as mentors as each Youth Ambassador designs and carries out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, Youth Ambassadors will travel to Washington, D.C., next April to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff. 

My name is Harli Jo McKinney. I am from Stratford, Oklahoma. I am in 9th grade. I am a cheerleader, I play basketball, and I love to sing. I am so excited to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance as a Youth Ambassador. Afterschool has been a big part of my life. Since beginning school, I have always had an afterschool program. It has taught me so much and given me the extra push to be who I am. It has helped to make me a confident and outgoing person.

Stratford is a small town with a population of 1,500 and our school has about 700 students from Stratford and nearby towns. There are not a lot of jobs in our town. Parents have to drive at least 20 to 30 miles to get to their jobs. This leaves their children with nowhere to go afterschool.

Our afterschool program gives these students a place to go. My program helps us with homework and gives us opportunity to experience and learn new things every day. We do really fun things like cooking, photography, gymnastics, and robotics. We are adding a drone class that we are all really excited about.

Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town. It gives our children a safe place to go and parents do not have to worry about them. There need to be more afterschool programs just like mine all over the country!

I would like to showcase the need for afterschool in my Youth Ambassador project. In my video production, I hope to convey the significant difference in rural communities with and without afterschool programs. I am excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador program!

JAN
2
2018

IN THE FIELD
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New Report: Using ESSA to support learning through arts integration

By Leah Silverberg

A new report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and The Wallace Foundation, "Review of Evidence: Arts Integration Research Through the Lens of the Every Student Succeeds Act," explores the evidence base for arts integration and the ways in which funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) can be used to integrate arts into other academic subjects. While the report mainly explores how ESSA funding can be used to support arts integration during the school day, afterschool programs are included as a promising opportunity for ESSA-funded arts integration.

Linking the arts to other subjects, and using art as a means to teach math, history, language arts, or other traditional subjects, has been associated with positive youth outcomes – especially for students from low-income communities. This report, however, is the first comprehensive look at the evidence base associated with arts integration written with the intent to help stakeholders make the case for funding to support arts integration in and out of school.

This report is especially timely given that many ESSA funding streams require or favor programs that can show evidence-based success. Within ESSA, different funding streams require varying levels of evidence rigor - evaluated by a four-tier system that classifies evidence as “strong,” “moderate,” “promising,” and “under evaluation.”

 

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