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MAR
5

POLICY
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Guest blog: Former Secretary of Education emphasizes importance of afterschool in education reform

By Rachel Clark

Cathy Stevens is the Program Director for the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship at the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Dick Riley told an audience of decision-makers charged with undoing decades of educational inequities in South Carolina that afterschool and expanded learning are a key part of the comprehensive, “collective impact,” education reform needed for rural and poor school districts.

In late 2014, after a 21-year lawsuit, Abbeville v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state is failing to provide its students with an minimally adequate education as required by the state’s constitution. To say this was a long time coming is putting it mildly. In response to this lawsuit, a new 17-member legislative task force began meeting in February to develop plans for revamping the school system, especially for the 33 largely poor and rural plaintiff school districts. Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina native, Richard W. Riley, opened the task force’s first meeting on February 23rd with commentary that emphasized the value of afterschool and expanded learning as part of the broader legislative response.

“Engaging, hands-on academic enrichment opportunities are needed in each elementary and middle school to help struggling students. Such opportunities also should leverage the inspiration of master teachers and the community spirit of mentors and tutors from youth, arts, culture, faith-based, science, community and business organizations,” he emphasized.

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learn more about: Education Reform Guest Blog State Policy
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MAR
4

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  March 4, 2015

By Luci Manning

All ACEs for Students as They Earned Scholarships (Polk County Democrat, Florida)

At the ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) afterschool mentoring program annual banquet, half a dozen students won scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 each. Teams comprised of the 30 students in the program made presentations to judges on their project for the year – a remodeling of the Bartow High School Culinary Arts Academy, complete with a model using architectural LEGO bricks. The teams were judged on their exterior scale model, their concept level drawings, the use of sustainable elements, the structural narrative and the proposed building schedule. Culinary Arts Academy instructor Rosalind Chan was impressed with the students’ ideas. “I love all the designs and see how any one of them could make our facilities so much better,” she told the Polk County Democrat. “They all did a great job and provided solutions to all the problems we proposed to them.”

Africa, Overlooked by Syllabus, Is Focus of Club (Riverdale Press, New York)

By the end of seventh grade, Whitney Wyche, whose family is of African descent, had learned about Ancient Greece and Rome, British kings and French monarchs – but not about African civilizations. When she heard about a new afterschool program focused on African history, she signed up. “I thought it would be great to see where I come from,” she told the Riverdale Press. Each week, about 10 students meet to discuss everything from African history to current events. While most of the elementary school curriculum focuses on the slave trade and other tragic elements of Africa’s history, the class is a place to dispel misconceptions. The program will culminate with a week-long trip to Ghana in the spring, which students have been preparing for by learning about Ghanaian culture and communicating with pen pals.

Boyle Teens Flip Out to Teach KSD Students (Danville Advocate-Messenger, Kentucky)

The room is anything but quiet with squealing students running and preparing for their afterschool gymnastics class at the Kentucky School for the Deaf. The elementary-age program is led by Boyle County High School sophomore Ellie Begley and junior Maddi Karsner. “It’s a great opportunity for the Boyle County students to work with our students – it’s a cultural exchange,” KDS staff interpreter Sarah Williams told the Advocate-Messenger. The teens rely heavily on the help of interpreters, parents and teachers to communicate with the children, but they’re learning some words and phrases in American Sign Language from the students. The program has helped the KSD students gain confidence, stamina and much more.

Gift Buoys Tutoring Program (Clayton News-Star, North Carolina)

Local philanthropist Durwood Stephenson recently donated six computers to the afterschool Next Level Tutoring program at First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield. More than 30 students of all ages come to First Missionary for help with their homework. First Missionary also works with a food bank to feed kids and has woven exercise into its afterschool program with help from the U.S. Tennis Association. Pastor Larry Honeyblue said the goal of the program is to reduce poverty by making sure children succeed in school and receive the education they need to thrive. “Believe it or not, if you educate a child, they’ll change their outlook because their opportunities change,” he told the Clayton News-Star. “Doors open that wouldn’t open, and it makes children feel better about themselves.” 

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment
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FEB
26

FUNDING
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Guest blog: Creating healthy spaces for kids during out of school time

By Rachel Clark

Katie Giles is a project manager at the Out of School Time Nutrition and Phsyical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), a project of the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center.

“Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen afterschool programs make are ensuring that drinking water is served to kids and setting program policies not allowing in unhealthy drinks and foods during their program.  The OSNAP Learning Communities give programs a feeling of support- that they aren’t making changes related to physical activity and nutrition alone.”  Max, YMCA

Afterschool programs provide children and families with many benefits—from a safe caring space to academic enrichment opportunities.  Afterschool programs also have the unique potential to be health-promoting environments for children.

We know that most children do not get enough opportunities to be active, eat and drink healthy foods and beverages, and spend time in spaces free of unhealthy advertisements on TV and the internet.  The time that children spend in afterschool programming can be time that they are physically active, drink water rather than sugary beverages, and eat healthy snacks—with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Afterschool providers can give children these health benefits and they can do it with minimal time and cost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Health and Wellness Nutrition
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FEB
18

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 18, 2015

By Luci Manning

My Valentine to Operation Shoestring (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)

Mother of three Wytreace Clark wrote a column for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about her sons’ experience with Project Rise, the afterschool and summer program at Operation Shoestring. She writes: “I love Operation Shoestring’s Project Rise because the staff there truly care about my sons… I love it because it’s connected by sons with mentors who guide them in becoming responsible young men who respect themselves and others… I love it because it is giving my children the chance to try things that are new to them, like horseback riding, fishing, kickball tournaments and soccer… Operation Shoestring… is making a huge difference for my family by allowing me to work, keeping my kids safe, and inspiring them to learn.”

Homework Club, Naval Hospital Sailors Give Back (Pensacola News Journal, Florida)

Anywhere between 30 and 50 students can be seen bouncing down the halls of West Pensacola Elementary School on Tuesdays and Thursdays, excited to spend time with some special guests. The students, part of an afterschool program called the Homework Club, get to receive tutoring from Pensacola Naval Hospital sailors in subjects such as math and reading. Laurie Cothran, West Pensacola curriculum coordinator and co-creator of the tutoring program, said she has seen a positive change in the students and their work ethic since launching the program. “I’ve talked to some of the teachers and they say the ones who are participating come to class a lot more prepared and they’re participating a lot more,” she told the Pensacola News Journal.

After-School Program at Six-Month Mark (Norfolk Daily News, Virginia)

“Aftershock,” a fledgling afterschool program at Norfolk Public Schools, is creating waves of enthusiasm among more than 200 students. The program includes 27 afterschool “clubs” that cover a wide range of interests from the arts to science to physical fitness, giving students ownership over their afterschool classes and, perhaps, their future careers. “It provides students with a safe, fun, learning environment during those key hours after school when many students could be unsupervised,” superintendent of schools Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, told the Norfolk Daily News. “It is also a great way for our students to connect with community members who have special talents or interests that our students might not otherwise be exposed to.”

A Second Chance at Success for Kingman Middle School Students (Kingman Daily Miner, Arizona)

For students at Kingman and White Cliffs middle schools, especially those with low or failing grades, the afterschool activities offered are a second chance at success. Not only do they teach students unexplored skills – like how to lift weights, play the guitar or build a raised brick garden bed – the learning centers also offer them a chance to improve their behavior, productively apply themselves and connect with the community. WCMS coordinator Laura Orendain said about 60 kids currently attend the afterschool program, and parents often take advantage of the learning center’s other services as well, such as family fitness activities and employment counseling. “This program is very beneficial and opens up opportunities for the school that we didn’t have before,” she told the Daily Miner. “We’re getting more involved in our families’ lives, and that’s changing things for the kids.” 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Academic Enrichment
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JAN
30

POLICY
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More than 260 groups call on Senate HELP Committee to support 21st CCLC afterschool

By Erik Peterson

Today a broad coalition of 266 local, state and national organizations urged the Senate HELP Committee to maintain the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative as a separate and specific federal funding stream for school and community partnerships to support students in grades Pre-K through 12 during the hours outside of the school day.  Quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs provide young people with the academic, social and emotional learning opportunities they need to be successful in school and in life.

Organizations ranging from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the Food Research and Action Center, to the American Heart Association and the National Education Association, all came together on the letter because of the broad value of afterschool and summer learning programs as a platform to make a difference in the lives of children.  Whether it is inspiring girls to pursue a STEM career or providing a venue to offer a nutritious meal and vigorous physical activity, comprehensive afterschool programs funded by 21st CCLC since 2001 positively impact more than 1 million school-age children each year.  The letter comes in response to Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander’s discussion draft ESEA bill, which would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that could be used for afterschool and summer learning or a variety of in-school student supports.  

The full text of the letter along with signing organizations including groups from 35 states and more than 50 leading national organizations can be viewed here and follows below.  Maximize the impact by emailing your Senators and urging them to support 21st CCLC—take action now!

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learn more about: 21st CCLC ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JAN
13

STEM
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Successful science center partnerships for Lights On Afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

This past October, 20 science centers and afterschool programs across the U.S. partnered up to co-host a STEM-themed Lights On Afterschool event in their community. Most partners had previously been interested in working together, but hadn’t yet found the right opportunity to do so. We worked with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to offer a $1,500 mini-grant that would allow each science center-afterschool pair to make the first steps in what we hoped to be a continuing partnership.

After hearing back from all the grantees, we’re happy to report that the initiative saw many successes! An average of 190 children and 50 adults attended each event, participating in a variety of hands-on science, engineering, and “maker”-style activities. Science center and afterschool partners were able to learn more about each other’s work and find common ground. Many of the Statewide Afterschool Networks and city intermediaries lent a hand, inviting local policy makers and other VIP’s.

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learn more about: Competition Events and Briefings Science State Networks Academic Enrichment Community Partners
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DEC
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Informing policy makers and the OST field on the opportunity gap

By Nikki Yamashiro

Sara Beanblossom is the director of communications and special events at the Indiana Afterschool Network, a nonprofit organization that inspires, empowers, and mobilizes the advocates, partners, and practitioners of afterschool and summer programs in Indiana.

AFTERSCHOOL AND SUMMER PROGRAMS CAN ADD 1,080 HOURS OF ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT TO A CHILD’S YEAR, EQUIVALENT TO THE NUMBER OF HOURS IN 144 SCHOOL DAYS. Yet, access is not equal. Low-income youth experience 6,000 fewer hours of enrichment and academic learning than their more affluent peers by the eighth grade (Hechinger Report, 2013).

Great piece of data, right?

The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) thinks so, too. That is why we are communicating this point and other important data to Indiana program providers to help them voice the need for and the impact of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs to their policy makers and funders.

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Guest Blog State Networks State Policy
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NOV
19

IN THE FIELD
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First Lady honors 12 afterschool arts and humanities programs at White House

By Ed Spitzberg

Many afterschool programs stoke the creative fires of the kids who participate in them.  Sometimes it is that yearning for the arts that draws kids to these programs to start with – and once there, they also gain many other skills, from confidence, to public speaking, to creative expression.

Each year, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, honors some of these premier programs with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  Each honor comes with a $10,000 award, presented during  a ceremony at the White House led by First Lady Michelle Obama.

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learn more about: Celebrities Obama Academic Enrichment Arts Youth Development
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