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In the Field Snacks
APR
21
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Summertime means nutritious meals, learning and fun

By Erik Peterson

Once school is out this year, will you be working with a summer learning program to continue providing engaging learning to young people? Don’t forget to provide nutritious meals to children through your program! With the USDA Summer Meals Program you can help young people get free, healthy meals this summer.

How does the program work?

Purpose: To serve free, healthy meals to low-income children and teens during summer months when school is out. 

Where: Any safe place for kids (for example: school, park, rec center, library, faith organization, etc.) can be a summer meal site, but summer learning programs are an ideal location to offer learning and meals!

Who: Summer meal sites receive meals from local sponsoring organizations (for example: Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, local school district, etc.). Sponsors prepare the food (or order it), deliver it to the meal site, and are reimbursed by USDA for the costs.

Eligibility: Any meal site open to the public is eligible if it is in a school attendance area where 50 percent or more children qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. If it is not open to the public (for example: a summer camp), 50 percent of more of the enrolled students must qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals.

APR
18
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Webinar wrap-up: Creating year-round opportunities for literacy

By Erin Murphy

Reading, writing and critical thinking are important skills for success, yet less than 40 percent of students leave high school with proficiency in these skills. Two programs, Redhound Enrichment and Simpson Street Free Press, featured in a newly released issue brief joined us on a webinar last week to talk about their work keeping their students engaged in literacy during the school year and into the summer months.

Karen West, executive director of Redhound Enrichment, spoke on behalf of her program, which was also this year’s recipient of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award. Since 1991, Redhound Enrichment has served a rural community in Kentucky through the Corbin Independent School District. Throughout the school year and summer months, the program serves 1,000 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, across five sites. A typical day at Redhound Enrichment includes an “energy release” period and snack, homework help or tutoring and two enrichment activity periods, with literacy embedded throughout these activities. Karen attributed their program’s success to four best practices:

  • Individualized support: Redhound Enrichment is committed to providing students with individualized support, which includes keeping up-to-date on students’ homework and grades and working with students one-on-one and in small group sessions.
  • School day linkages: Building partnerships and supporting school time learning, while not replicating what happens in school, is an important part of the program. Redhound Enrichment staff meet regularly with teachers to identify students’ needs and build rapport with teachers.
  • Integrated instruction: Literacy is integrated into a variety of enrichment activities offered at Redhound Enrichment. Using a project-based learning approach, programming does not mimic the school day set-up and allows students to learn important skills in new and fun ways.
  • Community connections: Partnerships with the school district, public library, universities, and other stakeholders provide important resources for the program. Redhound Enrichment invests a lot of effort into developing strong relationships with these groups, who in turn can help with funding, curricula, volunteers and more.
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learn more about: Rural Literacy
APR
15
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Save the Bay students get to know local wildlife

By Erin Murphy

Written by Jennifer Kelly, After School Program Manager for Save the Bay. This blog post is presented as part of a series celebrating afterschool programs involved in environmental education, with more installments coming throughout April! Join the conversation about afterschool's role in environmental education on social media with #AfterschoolEE.

“Whoa!” a student exclaims. “This is so cool! It’s walking on my hand.”

It’s a typical day at one of our afterschool programs: a student is getting up close and personal with local wildlife, holding a sea urchin for the first time.

Save the Bay has provided afterschool programming since 2003, advancing our mission to protect and improve Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay by teaching students about their local environment and creating future stewards for the bay. By partnering with schools and organizations in underserved communities across the state, our education department serves more than 16,000 students each year during the school day and after school hours.

Out-of-school time offers a great space to reach more students with fun and exciting enrichment programs, and our local organizations and schools were eager to build partnerships to take advantage of this opportunity. Save The Bay’s afterschool programs align to meet state science standards, while including energizing games, arts and crafts, and stories.

During our programs, students are actively engaged in STEM activities with a focus on marine and environmental science topics, specifically related to Narragansett Bay and its watershed. Save The Bay’s goal is to have a swimmable, fishable, and healthy Narragansett Bay accessible to everyone, and we believe educating our youth is an important part of this mission.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science Community Partners
APR
14
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Q&A: An afterschool program enjoys a rewarding visit from Congress

By Robert Abare

Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant (third from left) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (fifth from left) with the participants of J-Z AMP in New Haven, CT.

Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant recently visited New Haven, Connecticut for a tour of the Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program (J-Z AMP), along with local Afterschool Ambassador Mark Fopeano. Mark Fopeano is currently the Program Manager for Dwight Hall at Yale, the Center for Public Service and Social Justice on Yale University’s campus. The two were joined on their visit to J-Z AMP by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents Connecticut’s 3rd district.

Q: What is the J-Z AMP program?

Mark: J-Z AMP program is a mentoring program that builds beneficial relationships between Yale students and inner-city middle school students of New Haven. Yale students are recruited at the end of their freshman year for a three-year commitment to the program. This ambitious length of time allows the program to foster uniquely strong bonds between mentors and mentees. By the time Yale students reach graduation, their mentees are graduating 8th grade, resulting in a great kinship through mutual growth and shared experiences. J-Z AMP also operates at sites with other partner universities in Bridgeport, Conn. and Hartford, Conn.

Q: How did the younger participants of J-Z AMP respond to the visit by Congresswoman DeLauro?

Jodi: Congresswoman DeLauro spoke with the kids about the role of representative government and why they should care about voting, elections, and the work of their representatives. Her message really seemed to “click” when she discussed making a decision on whether or not to vote to send the United States to war, and put the lives of our military at risk. Suddenly, the kids got very quiet, and I could tell they really took to heart the significance of her role.

Q: How did the mentors react while watching the Congresswoman interact with their mentees?

Mark: It was great to watch the Yale students step back and feel proud of their mentees as they asked questions of Congresswoman DeLauro. These students sit and talk with their mentees every week, and to see them using their voices with such a unique and influential audience really gave a special feeling to the event. 

Q: What did Congresswoman DeLauro gain from her visit to J-Z AMP?

Jodi: Congresswoman DeLauro has been a champion for afterschool since the inception of the Afterschool Alliance, and she was an afterschool teacher herself, so she personally understands the need for these programs. She’s also a sophisticated policy maker who’s adept at reaching across the aisle to get things done—an important lesson for all the participants of J-Z AMP. When she concluded her visit, Congresswoman DeLauro told me how impressed she was with the program, and expressed her interest in duplicating the program’s model to more sites.

Mark: After her visit to J-Z AMP, Congresswoman DeLauro—or Rosa, as everyone addressed her during her visit—is able to return to Washington and share with her colleagues real stories about the power of afterschool, and how afterschool programs can benefit their districts, too. Similarly, it has been my privilege as an Afterschool Ambassador to collect and spread the unique stories of afterschool programs, which can only be found there, with those people.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Community Partners
APR
11
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Greenvale Park Community School

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is excited to present our first Afterschool Spotlight, a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

When Vicky Agapito-Rosas moved to her home of Northfield, Minnesota, 15 years ago, she was confronted by something every native Minnesotan had already learned to accept: a cold winter spent (mostly) indoors. But Vicky was troubled by the lack of activities and resources available to her third-grade daughter, Dalilah, during the cold winter months. 

“Other communities have malls or neighborhood centers where kids can gather after school,” Vicky explained, “but Northfield had nothing like that.”

Vicky Agapito-Rosas and her daughter, Delilah

Vicky decided to take action. She and a group of neighborhood parents who faced similar circumstances came together and approached the leaders of the Northfield Public Schools to find ways to keep kids engaged, learning, and active beyond standard school time hours. The group’s enthusiasm was met with equal interest by the public school leadership, and plans took shape for the Greenvale Park Community School, an initiative at Greenvale Park Elementary that offers a wide range of out-of-school time programming for students, parents, their families and the entire community.

Finally, a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers in August 2014 turned the Greenvale Park Community School into a reality.

Now, Dalilah rides a complimentary bus to and from the Community School on weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings. A world of activities are now available for her to explore, including cooking classes, creative craft projects, tutoring for her homework, photography, and much more. “If there weren’t a Community School, I would just be home watching TV,” Dalilah said.

The Greenvale Park Community School has earned praise from a number of people involved with the project, including Superintendent of Northfield Public Schools Dr. Chris Richardson. “I am so impressed with the efforts of Greenvale Park and Community Services staff to collaborate with individuals and community groups to design and provide the broad range of programs and services for the students, siblings and parents of the Greenvale Park Community School,” he said.

APR
8
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: ZooCrew empowers youth to tackle conservation issues

By Erin Murphy

Written by Ryan Driscoll, Science Education Outreach Coordinator for ZooCrew. This blog post is presented as part of a series celebrating afterschool programs involved in environmental education, with more installments coming throughout April! Join the conversation about afterschool's role in environmental education on social media with #AfterschoolEE.

Conservation issues can be difficult to address with secondary students. These students have reached the age when they are ready dive into challenging topics like deforestation and poaching, but exploring the complexity of these issues can be messy. Woodland Park Zoo’s afterschool program, ZooCrew, helps students examine these complicated issues and generate solutions to address the varying concerns. Throughout this process, we are always amazed at our students’ eagerness and ability to grapple with these topics, and at the ingenuity and creativity of their solutions.

Learning through exploring

ZooCrew partners with Seattle Parks and Recreation to serve youth from four traditionally underserved middle schools, engaging around 150 students each year in weekly two-hour sessions. In groups of 10 to 20, we confront real-world conservation issues, prepare students for continued involvement in Woodland Park Zoo’s youth programs and inspire youth to consider a broad range of STEM or conservation careers.

Each term, ZooCrew students explore a conservation issue in a selected ecosystem. From the tropical rain forest to the Pacific Northwest, ZooCrew youth learn about current issues affecting these biomes like wildlife poaching, climate change, and deforestation. With help from teen volunteers from our ZooCorps program, students create projects to support ongoing conservation efforts, generate new solutions and advocate for action in their community. They also take two field trips each quarter, participating in restoration work at a local park or green space and visiting the zoo to share their projects with parents, zoo staff and fellow students.

The diverse projects that students can pursue offer room for creativity to apply what they learn. For example, this fall we focused on the complex issue of poaching in the African savanna. After learning about the savanna ecosystem, we delved into various perspectives around poaching and held a mock summit to recognize the difficulty of finding solutions that consider everyone involved. Students used this experience to create a wide variety of anti-poaching projects. Some students supported conservation programs through citizen science apps, while others designed robotic Egyptian tortoises to help stem the illegal pet trade, or created faux poached items to reduce market demand. Still others designed an educational video game to teach people about the impacts of poaching.

APR
4
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Building community partnerships by finding common ground

By Robert Abare

Written by Rhetta Hunyady, the Vice President of Education and Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which administers YouthQuest, a high-quality afterschool program serving more than 2,000 students in Flint and Genesee County, Michigan. For more information, visit www.yquest.org.

In today’s hyper-connected world, it seems as though developing community partnerships would be relatively easy. Just hop on the phone, shoot an email or send out a Tweet and boom—partnership initiated.

In reality, the process is a bit more involved. It’s not enough to call a local organization and say, “Here’s how you can help us.” You need to be able to add, “Here’s how we can help you.”

At YouthQuest, we work with several community partners who help us serve more than 2,000 students in Genesee County, Michigan. One partnership that immediately comes to mind is the one we share with The Whiting, a Flint-based performing arts venue that has provided our students with free admission to artist performances including Blue Man Group and Black Violin.

These excursions help YouthQuest provide more robust programming, a key element of which is cultural enrichment. And just as we benefit, so do our friends at The Whiting, whose mission is to serve local students and their families throughout their presentation season.

So how do you determine what your “win-win” opportunities are?

To begin, know what it is you want. Once you find an organization or business that offers services or programming that fit that vision, set up a meeting to discuss what that agency’s mission, vision and values are.

From there, brainstorm ways your program can address their needs, be it helping the organization fulfill their social responsibility goals for the year or building their brand by sharing photos and news on social media.

In many ways, building partnerships is similar to fundraising or financial development. You have to make connections and build relationships to understand how and where your goals overlap.

Last Thursday Sharri Newman, YouthQuest’s Program Director, discussed forming successful partnerships by co-leading the Knitting Effective Partnerships workshop during the Ready by 21 National Meeting in Baltimore. Efforts like these to strengthen organizations' and afterschool programs' abilities to form strong partnerships help everyone—students, families, programs and communities.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Community Partners
APR
1
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Help us celebrate environmental education this month!

By Erin Murphy

The Afterschool Alliance is excited to announce that throughout April we will be celebrating environmental education! Our goal is to highlight the work that afterschool programs do to address the importance of environmental education by showcasing how programs are engaging students to think critically about the environment—both locally and globally.

As part of this campaign, we will be celebrating Earth Day by hosting a tweet chat to discuss the importance of environmental education, the current state of environmental education in afterschool, and how programs and individuals can support this mission. Sign up to join us on April 22 at 2 p.m. ET.

Additionally, we have registered our events as part of the National Environmental Education Foundation’s (NEEF) Environmental Education Week (EE Week 2016). This will be the 12th annual EE Week working to inspire environmental learning among K-12 students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Get involved with environmental education:

  • Check out our favorite environmental education resources.
  • Send us a tweet @afterschool4all using the hashtag #AfterschoolEE and share what afterschool programs can do to support environmental education, what your program is doing, and what your favorite environmental resources and activities are.
  • Learn more about our Earth Day tweet chat on April 22 at 2 p.m. ET and sign up to join us and a panel of environmental education experts for a conversation about environmental education in afterschool.
  • Keep checking the Afterschool Snack for a blog series where programs like the Washington ZooCrew will share their experiences and advice on how to implement environmental education into afterschool programs.
  • Register your events, field trips or projects happening on or around April 17 to 23 as EE Week events.