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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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Facts and Research Snacks
NOV
27
2017

RESEARCH
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Experts weigh in on the value of afterschool

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last month, we saw afterschool programs across the country open their doors to host Lights On Afterschool events, providing a firsthand look at the broad array of fun, enriching, and engaging activities students take part in at the program and the vital role programs play in their community. A newly-released research report from RAND is a fantastic complement to Lights On Afterschool, offering a research-based look at The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs.

The principal takeaway from the report, which made possible in part by The Wallace Foundation, is that there are measurable benefits to students and families when participating in afterschool and summer learning programs — but the quality and intentionality of the program, as well as a student’s regular participation in the program, influences those benefits. 

Also of note in the report is that it calls attention to the nuanced issue of what is and is not measured in afterschool and summer learning programs when evaluating a program’s success. The authors find that some of the key benefits of afterschool (such as providing students with new and differing learning experiences, helping close the opportunity gap, and supporting parents) are rarely, if ever, measured.

NOV
14
2017

RESEARCH
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"Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool" highlights promising practices for all ages

By Nikki Yamashiro

The next generation of the American workforce is growing up right now and afterschool programs are vital partners in helping young people discover new passions and work towards their dreams. As in so many other subjects, the variety and versatility of afterschool programming offers opportunities for different kids at different ages and stages of development to benefit, whether the focus is on social and emotional learning, teamwork and communications skills, or concrete experience at paid internships.

In the Minneapolis Beacons afterschool programs, elementary school students learn and play collaboratively in groups, practicing active listening, considering and respecting different perspectives, and reaching consensus in a group setting. On the other side of the spectrum, high schoolers in Sunrise of Philadelphia’s afterschool program create five-year road maps for themselves, participate in mock interviews, and have the opportunity to work in a variety of paid internships.

Programs are helping students discover potential career pathways, connecting students to real-world workplace experience, and guiding students to build the foundational skills that will benefit students in school and when they enter the workforce. Afterschool Alliance’s new issue brief, Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool, examines the ladder of supports that afterschool programs provide students to help them thrive beyond school, as they grow into adults into their future careers.

NOV
13
2017

RESEARCH
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New report: Making summer learning a district-wide priority

By Leah Silverberg

Summer learning programs across the country are providing students with valuable opportunities to learn. However, for students from low-income families, quality learning opportunities can be sparse, and students from low-income communities lose more ground academically over their summer than their more affluent peers. Supporting summer learning, and making these programs a priority for school districts, can make a difference for these students year-round. Taking support for these programs to a district level and prioritizing summer learning can help ensure program quality, sustainability, and increase community buy-in.  

In an effort to support summer learning programs, The Wallace Foundation launched the National Summer Learning Project (NSLP) across five school districts nationwide in 2011. Evaluating the NSLP programs, RAND has explored outcomes for students participating in summer learning programs. Digging deeper, Making Summer Last: Integrating Summer Programming into Core District Priorities and Operations, a new report from The Wallace Foundation and RAND, explores how three of the school districts participating in NSLP integrated summer learning into their district priorities. The report evaluates interviews with district staff members and summer leadership staff involved in summer programming and highlights their recommendations for making summer a district-wide priority. Here are the report’s three main takeaways, including challenges, to integrate and prioritize summer learning programs into your school district:

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learn more about: Summer Learning
NOV
9
2017

RESEARCH
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Looking for evidence on the impact of afterschool?

By Nikki Yamashiro

Look no further! Adding to the research conversation discussing the value of afterschool and summer learning programs, the Afterschool Alliance has released two new fact sheets that provide a sampling of evaluation findings demonstrating the positive impact programs have on students, with subjects ranging from helping students become more engaged in learning to improving students’ foundational skills, such as communication and decision-making skills. 

The two fact sheets include different sets of information meant to complement one another. What does the research say about 21st Century Community Learning Centers? focuses specifically on findings from evaluations of Community Learning Centers programs, including statewide evaluations from a number of states across the country, such as California, Texas, and West Virginia. On the other hand, What does the research say about afterschool? includes student outcomes from evaluations of afterschool programs more broadly, comprising evaluations of Community Learning Centers programs as well as referencing meta-analyses (an approach that looks at multiple studies and their data) and national-level studies.

If you are in search of how to make an evidence-based case for afterschool, you can pluck findings from these fact sheets to demonstrate that there is a body of research that both establishes and confirms that afterschool works.

Didn’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Search our Impacts Database and filter for evaluations focused on everything from the evaluations’ findings, such as attendance and behavior, to the age of students served. The database, which we continuously update and add to, currently includes more than 60 evaluations. If you have an evaluation you think we should include, email us at info@afterschoolalliance.org.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Evaluation and Data
OCT
27
2017

RESEARCH
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Creating high-quality arts programs in national youth-serving organizations

By Leah Silverberg

While research has shown that participation in the arts promotes positive youth outcomes, providing quality arts programming can seem like an unobtainable goal to many programs, especially those that mix various art disciplines into daily programming but do not have an arts focus. But a new report commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, Raising the Barre & Stretching the Canvas, shows that high-quality arts programming for multidisciplinary out-of-school time programs is obtainable — and how.

How do you provide quality arts programming?

With the goal of helping to improve and expand high-quality arts programming, The Wallace Foundation partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to create and pilot the Youth Arts Initiative (YAI) in Milwaukee (Wis.), Green Bay (Wis.), and St. Cloud (Minn.). The YAI drew from ten key principles of high-quality arts programming outlined in the 2013 study, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts: professional practicing artists, executive commitment, dedicated spaces, high expectations, culminating events, positive relationships, youth input, hands-on skill building, community engagement, and physical and emotional safety. With these principles in mind, the YAI programs:

  1. Hired practicing artists as staff.
  2. Created dedicated studio spaces for the arts.
  3. Supplied the tools and materials needed for the program’s art discipline.
  4. Engaged students in decision-making throughout the creation and execution of the program.
  5. Emphasized positive youth development principles.
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learn more about: Arts Partnerships
OCT
6
2017

RESEARCH
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New report from the Wallace Foundation: Strategies to scale up

By Nikki Yamashiro

The question of how to scale up—taking a successful program, project, or policy and growing it to expand its reach and therefore its impact—has been an important one when thinking about systems change. It is a key component in efforts to make sustainable, positive social gains; a subject highly relevant to the afterschool field. Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, the study, “Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs: Pathways, Partnerships and Fidelity,” takes a close look at the strategic decisions made by 45 programs—ranging in focus from education to the environment—that helped them expand their reach and bring their services to a greater number of people. Key takeaways from the report include:

Pathways, partnerships, and fidelity. The three interrelated strategic choices common to scale up efforts are:

  1. Pathways - the decision of how to scale
  2. Partnerships - whom to partner with and how
  3. Fidelity - how a scale up effort does or does not change or adapt as new partners or communities implement the scale up

Partnerships are critical in scaling up efforts. While funders were identified as core partners by almost all of the programs included in the study, partnerships provided scaling up efforts more than funding. From consultation expertise to volunteers and from infrastructure to implementation, the programs reviewed relied on the support of their partners.

Find the right balance. Finding the right balance between program fidelity and adaptation can help ensure that the scaling up effort is meeting the needs of the community while at the same time maintaining its effectiveness.

SEP
8
2017

RESEARCH
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Evaluating afterschool: What my toddler taught me about evaluation

By Guest Blogger

By Allison Riley, PhD, MSW, Senior Vice President, Programming and Evaluation at Girls on the Run International. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the seventh installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at the firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, and sixth posts of the series.

My two-year-old daughter and I like to take walks together when I get home from work. Whether we are headed to see the neighbor’s chickens or visit a friend, we always have some goal in mind when we walk out of the door, though my toddler typically doesn’t take the most direct path. Even if I try to rush her along so we can more quickly reach our destination, she is sure to pause when a good learning opportunity comes her way. When I follow my daughter’s lead, our walks are purposeful yet flexible, and I always learn more, too.

As it turns out, my daughter’s approach to a walk translates well to my workday world. As someone who’s spent my career evaluating youth programming, I have learned the importance of having a clear purpose and goals for a project while being flexible and responsive to information gathered during the evaluation process. Let’s look at a recent Girls on the Run study as an example.

AUG
29
2017

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New poll finds 9 in 10 parents support schools providing afterschool programs

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last night, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) released the 2017 Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) Poll of Public's Attitudes Towards Public Schools. The overall takeaway from this report, which is PDK’s 49th annual report on Americans’ views toward public schools, is that there is strong agreement that public schools should provide supports outside of the typical school day. More than 9 in 10 Americans report that they support public schools providing afterschool programs, with 77 percent reporting that they strongly supported schools providing afterschool programs.

Support was also strong for schools providing mental health services (87 percent) and general health services (79 percent). Support was very high for schools seeking additional public funding to pay for these services, with 76 percent of Americans agreeing that schools are justified in seeking additional public funds.

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data