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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
2

IN THE FIELD
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Are you a rural afterschool program provider? We need your help!

By Nikki Yamashiro

Together with the Iowa Afterschool Alliance, we are calling on all rural afterschool program providers to complete a short survey on the challenges and opportunities unique to their program. By completing the full survey—which should take less than 10 minutes of your time—your program will be entered in a drawing for the chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card. It’s a win-win situation. Filling out the survey will make sure that your voice is heard as we work to better understand the issues providers face and practices they implement when it comes to reaching and serving children and families in rural communities, AND your program has a chance to win an Amazon gift card!

We ask that each afterschool program designate only one staff member to fill out the survey on behalf of the program.

The survey is open for just two weeks, and will close on Wednesday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

We’re excited to hear from you and learn more about all that you are doing for afterschool!

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learn more about: Rural
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JUL
1

IN THE FIELD
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Recognize students' achievements with new digital badges resources

By Dan Gilbert

For today’s youth, learning takes place everywhere. We all know that there are a wealth of opportunities for youth to develop new skills and produce knowledge in afterschool and summer learning spaces, yet recognition of learning and skill development is all too often confined to the classroom, failing to recognize the valuable experiences and knowledge that students gain after the school day ends. A promising new movement to address this problem is gaining traction around micro-credentials called digital badges. Digital badges provide afterschool and summer learning programs with unique opportunities to recognize students’ achievements outside of the classroom.

Our new set of resources, “Digital Badges In Afterschool: Connecting Learning in a Connected World,” details digital badging efforts around the country. With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the resources include short case studies of badging efforts coordinated by statewide afterschool networks in Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Maryland, along with examples of digital badges issued in programs, recommendations for programs that are interested in introducing badges, and lessons that network and program staff learned along the way.

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learn more about: Digital Learning
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JUN
30

IN THE FIELD
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Check out our new look @ afterschoolalliance.org

By Ursula Helminski

Last week, we rolled out a new look at afterschoolalliance.org.  Don’t worry, all the resources you’ve come to expect on policy, research, advocacy, funding and communications are still here – but in a new and improved format. 

We’ve worked hard to make it easier to find the information you need, with brand new search features to make our best research more accessible and a revamped Afterschool Toolbox full of practical tools to strengthen (or start!) a program. We've also added new visuals to make your visits to our site more enjoyable.

There will be a few hiccups here and there during this transition.  We thank you in advance for your patience.  If you notice something awry while you're exploring, post a comment or drop us a line at info@afterschoolalliance.org so we can address it right away.

We hope you enjoy surfing around the new afterschoolalliance.org, and we want to hear from you! Do let us know what you think in the comments section below, and provide any suggestions you have for our site.  We will be rolling out more improvements throughout the summer!

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JUN
22

IN THE FIELD
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Project Play: A playbook to get every kid in the game

By Lindsay Damiano

Project Play, a report and initiative created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Aspen Institute, and other advocates for children’s health, explores ways to engage more kids in physical activity. “A playbook to get every kid in the game,” Project Play provides ways that communities can come together to fight the decline of kids’ participation in sports.

The National PTA Conference, taking place this Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers a perfect opportunity to share the problem addressed and the tools suggested in the Project Play report with parents, teachers, and other friends of afterschool. The report finds that fewer than half of children ages 6 to 11 are engaging in the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day, in part due to a decline in participation in team sports. Project Play finds that household income is the largest determinant of a child’s access and participation in programs – children living in low-income households are about half as likely to participate in sports as children from wealthier homes, the report finds. Afterschool programs help to fill that gap and keep all kids active through play. On a typical day in an afterschool program, 67 percent of kids are physically active for 30+ minutes. Project Play aims to make 100 percent of kids able, confident, and wanting to be active by age 12, and everyone is a part of their strategy.

  • For parents: Join a local sport board and promote inclusive policies to increase all kids’ access. Support your local afterschool programs, where children can learn and play sports in a fun, non-competitive environment.
  • For teachers and administrators: Commit to providing recess and daily physical education, and explore expanding access to intramurals and alternative sports. Grow efforts to open up your facilities during the non-school hours to community sport groups.
  • For other friends of afterschool: Advocate in your communities for open play time in gyms and fields, and turn the space over to kids. Donate your time and skills to help afterschool programs provide quality physical education and inclusive sports playing.

Afterschool plays a major role in keeping kids active. Let’s bring parents, teachers, and all other community leaders together to help America’s kids become active for life.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
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JUN
22

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool programs help Dad every weekday afternoon

By Lindsay Damiano

Father’s Day yesterday gave us all a special opportunity to tell our dads how important they are to us and how grateful we are for all they do. Dads often put in 110% for their kids, rushing to get them to school, to soccer practice, to Grandpa’s, to birthday parties… while also often working during the day. Afterschool programs give working parents peace of mind; our most recent America After 3PM survey found that 74 percent of parents agreed afterschool programs help them keep their jobs. A safe, engaging place for kids to go after school turns out to be a pretty great gift for Dad.

Unfortunately, not all parents are able to enroll their child in an afterschool program. Ten million kids participate in an afterschool program now, but the parents of another 19 million would enroll their child if there were a program available. That means that for every child able to participate, two more are waiting to get into a program. Dads and moms value these programs for keeping their kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and giving them peace of mind when they are at work.

Tell Congress that every parent deserves the benefits that universal afterschool access can provide. When parents across the country are putting in 110%, elected representatives should be giving their all to increase funding for afterschool. It supports working parents like the #1 Dad in your life.   

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JUN
18

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Ambassadors gear up for summer learning

By Lindsay Damiano

National Summer Learning Day is finally here, and Afterschool Ambassadors across the country have organized exciting and creative ways for their local communities to celebrate.

Ambassadors and Ambassadors Emeriti lead the way in providing afterschool programs to so many kids across the country, and that work doesn’t stop in the summer. National Summer Learning Day is an opportunity to celebrate summer learning and think about how we can get more kids into programs that keep them learning year-round to help close the achievement gap.

To celebrate National Summer Learning Day with STEM and adventure, families in Johnson County, Kansas will participate in “The Mid-Summer’s Night Cache.” This geocaching exploration will lead scavengers with a GPS device to the hidden caches and then to a fire pit with hot dogs, s’mores and summer learning resource materials.

Nearby, Gardner, Kansas L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Education and Development) campers helped the city get ready for the annual Festival on the Trails. In preparation for the festival with more than 11,000 expected visitors, campers helped set up festival structures and learned firsthand about all the planning and hours of work that make large-scale community events possible. L.E.A.D. campers and staff are pictured below preparing the sidewalk for the event.

Gardner, Kansas L.E.A.D. campers help get the community ready for a festival.

 

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learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Summer Learning
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JUN
1

IN THE FIELD
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This week, build awareness about the importance of summer meals in your community

By Alexis Steines

This week—June 1 to 5—is the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program Awareness Week, dedicated to raising awareness about summer meals. A variety of activities are taking place this week to promote the need to nourish students with healthy meals during the summer months. The Afterschool Alliance is excited to support this effort—we know summer learning programs are at their best when they include a nutritious meal.

Nourishing bodies through the USDA Summer Meals program and nourishing minds with hands-on summer learning programs is a natural connection. Today, our partners at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, their annual look at participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs for every state and for the nation. Some of the key findings from this year’s report include:

  • Nearly 1 in 6 low income children received summer meals in 2014—a 7.3% increase in program participation since summer 2013;
  • Forty-two states increased Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) participation;
  • The number of SFSP sponsors and sites increased as well, with a 5.3 percent increase in the number of sponsors and a 9.3 percent increase in the number of sites serving these meals.

Despite this good news, considerable work is needed to ensure all eligible children have access to these meals. The report also found for every lunch that an eligible child does not receive, the state and community misses out on $3.4857 in federal funding per child. Millions of dollars are not reaching eligible children and their communities.

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learn more about: Federal Policy Health and Wellness Nutrition Summer Learning
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MAY
29

IN THE FIELD
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Using data for quality improvement: Lessons from BUILD Chicago

By Dan Gilbert

In our recent issue brief, we discussed how data can serve as a valuable resource not only for afterschool programs, but also for young people and their families. One program that we had identified as having an exemplary system for using data to continuously improve program quality was BUILD Chicago, an in-school and afterschool program that provides mentorship, academic enrichment, and social and emotional supports to at-risk and underserved youth in Chicago, Illinois.

Since 2010, BUILD has very deliberately worked to improve its data intake system and to expand the quantity and types of data that it collects, using this data to create a powerful program improvement cycle. We recently had the opportunity to speak with BUILD’s Director of Operations and Quality Improvement, Bessie Alcantara, who shared some valuable insights about how this dramatic shift came to be.

Ms. Alcantara originally considered overhauling BUILD’s data collection out of frustration. In 2010, only half of BUILD’s program sites were providing timely and accurate data and case notes about program outcomes. Getting programs to comply with data collection requirements was a consistent problem. As BUILD considered a variety of options for improving BUILD’s data collection and use, the organization’s leadership began working with external evaluators to identify a set of common goals between their programs. They used these goals to identify a set of tools around measurable outcomes, and ultimately merged the tools into a single data intake form that sites could use to capture the information that BUILD needed for both internal and external purposes.

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learn more about: Evaluations
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