Esther Grant-Walker is the Program Director of School Aged Childcare at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in New York City. Esther previously served as an Afterschool Ambassador.
A sustained advocacy campaign is key to raising public perception and awareness of afterschool programs. Planning an advocacy campaign does not need to be time consuming or costly. A very simple campaign can be as effective as an elaborate one.
During the past year, with the support of the Bowne Foundation, I began to develop a sustained advocacy campaign to promote my afterschool program. New York City afterschool program funding was threatened with cuts during the past few city budget cycles. As the Program Director of School Age Childcare at the Isaacs Center Afterschool Program, I can see that there is a need for increased afterschool advocacy to promote not just my afterschool program, but programs across the city.
I decided focus my campaign on bringing parents and schools together to support afterschool. Many of our parents take our afterschool programs for granted because they are funded by the city. They assume that funding for afterschool will always be in place. In reality, city funding is never guaranteed. To educate parents, I decided to launch an advocacy campaign that would not only teach them about the challenges facing afterschool programs, but would also train them and other community members to be active advocates for afterschool.
By Sarah Keller
It's been 10 days since the government shutdown began, and with Congress still deadlocked over a Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2014, afterschool programs around the country are starting to feel the effect. From the National Park Service to USDA nutrition programs and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), local media have uncovered how the shutdown of a diverse set of federal programs is negatively impacting children served by community afterschool programs:
- Aviator Sports and Events Center, located inside Gateway National Recreation Area, a National Park Service area in Brooklyn, has been deemed non-essential and thus closed since the shutdown began. This has caused the families of the 35 children attending the program rushing to find alternative arrangements.
- AmeriCorps VISTA members, who work at nonprofits aimed at reducing poverty while living on a poverty-level salary for a year, receive their salary in part through the CNCS—unavailable while the shutdown continues. The local CBS affiliate in northern Nevada reports how the Reno Bike Project afterschool program’s VISTA is affected by the shutdown.
We’re excited to announce that the hit documentary Brooklyn Castle will help kick off the Lights On Afterschool season with its national broadcast debut tonight on the award-winning PBS series POV.
Check local listings to find when it’s airing near you.
Tune in to your local PBS station tonight for the premiere of this award-winning documentary, which tells the inspirational story of a chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school—one that has won more national championships than any other in the country—facing recessionary budget cuts to extracurricular activities that threaten to eliminate the chess program.
With help from PBS, afterschool programs can show the film at local Lights on Afterschool events to entertain and engage adults and teens, or use trailers to help make the afterschool story come alive and spur conversation on the need for afterschool in local communities.
Afterschool Ambassador Deepmalya Ghosh is the director of youth development programs at the Child Center of New York, Inc.
Increasing public awareness of your afterschool program is an important key to running a successful advocacy campaign. While traditional media sources, such as newspaper articles and TV news stories, are great ways to increase visibility, afterschool programs are increasingly turning to social media as a way to build support and momentum. One of the benefits of social media is that it is a low-cost, effective way to reach a large number of people.
During my term as an Afterschool Ambassador sponsored by the Bowne Foundation, I found great success using social media to build momentum for an afterschool advocacy campaign. I am the Director of Youth Development for the Child Center of NY, an organization that provides afterschool programming, among other services, to children in New York City. Realizing we needed to reach beyond traditional media sources when promoting our programs, we developed a campaign to leverage social media to maximize our advocacy efforts. There was a sense of joint purpose among other afterschool providers in the city, so I often shared what they were doing to advocate for afterschool with our team.
I enjoy every opportunity I have to listen and learn firsthand about issues related to the afterschool field, and last week was no exception. I was excited to be able to attend Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and hear directly from policy makers, experts and advocates about childhood obesity—an issue very much of concern to afterschool. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of RWJF, kicked off the event emphasizing the recent progress we’ve made as a nation in regard to turning a corner on childhood obesity rates as rates decrease in cities across the country. Yet despite this progress—which was made possible through a variety of actions and actors, including afterschool programs—there’s still much more work to be done.
In my opinion, her most significant point was that right now, we understand better than ever before what works and what doesn’t to fight the childhood obesity epidemic. Dr. Janet Collins, associate director for program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reinforced this point during her panel discussion, referring to childhood obesity as one of our “winnable battles.”
By Jodi Grant
Last week I had the honor of attending a Let’s Move! Active Schools event with First Lady Michelle Obama at Orr Elementary School in southeast Washington, D.C. The event highlighted D.C. Public Schools’ (DCPS) new commitment to engaging all of its students in at least five hours per week of physical activity—including during the hours before and after school.
It’s always a privilege to be in the presence of the First Lady, but I was especially pleased to hear her passion for keeping our children healthy—something the afterschool community does every day by providing opportunities for physical activity and nutrition to students across the country.
The First Lady, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson gave remarks on the key role educators and schools play in encouraging children to engage in healthy habits and physical activity. In her remarks, Chancellor Henderson lauded local afterschool programs—particularly DC SCORES—for the key contributions they make toward teaching students healthy habits and preparing them for success both in and out of school.
This guest post was written by Cara Lesser, founder of the Kids International Discovery Museum (KID Museum), an emerging museum in Montgomery County, MD. KID Museum’s mission is to cultivate children's creativity, curiosity and compassion through playful exploration of the world with a focus on three core programmatic areas: 1) international culture; 2) science, technology, engineering, art and math, and 3) social responsibility. Learn more about KID museum at www.kid-museum.org.
On Sept. 29, D.C. area families will have a new opportunity to spark their kids’ imaginations when the first official Maker Faire comes to the D.C. region. Maker Faires are family-friendly festivals celebrated as the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth.” Hundreds of thousands of people attend flagship Maker Faire events around the world, where “makers” showcase imaginative creations that will educate and engage people of all ages and backgrounds.