More and more corporate partners and foundations are recognizing the important role that afterschool programs play in helping kids reach higher academic achievement and college readiness, and develop essential skills for the 21st century workplace, particularly among low-income children and families. To help augment the work that is already taking place in afterschool, the New York Life Foundation recently awarded a $4 million, four-year grant to After-School All-Stars. The grant will help After-School All-Stars expand its programming to middle school youth in six cities across the nation.
As part of its broader mission, The New York Life Foundation is committed to educational enhancement by supporting programs that focus on academic achievement for disadvantaged children and youth, and that help children during the critical out-of-school hours. The foundation places a special emphasis on the needs of middle and high school students, which makes its partnership with After-School All-Stars an exemplary collaboration because it will leverage the ongoing work of both organizations.
Afterschool and summer learning programs are ideal places to provide kids with educational opportunities that help them improve academic performance and develop the skills they need to succeed in college and in life. Thanks to the valuable investments of corporate foundations such as the New York Life Foundation, afterschool programs across the nation are more able to provide vital educational opportunities beyond the school day that otherwise may not have existed.
By Jen Rinehart
There are plenty of images of jumping associated with summer—jumping rope, jumping into swimming pools, jumping for joy on the last day of the school year—but few folks think of the role that summer learning programs can play to help students get a jump on the Common Core.
We have given the Common Core and the role of afterschool programs in supporting kids under Common Core a fair bit of coverage here at the Afterschool Snack.
Now there’s a resource out from the Summer Matters campaign that hones in on the role of summer programs. Getting a Head Start on the Common Core highlights a number of school districts in California, including Los Angeles Unified and Sacramento City Unified, which are relying on summer programs to introduce and reinforce the skills and habits of mind emphasized by the Common Core.
The report demonstrates that summer learning programs can prevent summer learning loss, while also providing students with a leg up to be successful under the Common Core. Lastly, the report points out how summer learning programs can provide time and flexibility for teachers to experiment with new strategies and curriculum prior to implementing them in the school classroom.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of getting to listen—and not present—at the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention in New York City. Given the long winter, I was in need of inspiration. Three middle schoolers delivered. Actually, they demanded. A lot. Not just of me but also of my teammates and all the other adults who had to work together to build an attractive, cost-efficient and effective package for a peach.
We couldn’t sit with anyone we knew. We had to present a prototype drawing for approval. We were charged a return fee for trying to trade in poms-poms for more masking tape. Despite the rigor, we got really into it. And then these kids took our precious package and slammed it against a wall, held it against a heat lamp and dumped water on it. Thanks, guys.
Apparently this is just the sort of thing they do every week in Wednesday Science Seminars. Three students from the afterschool program created a PowerPoint, tweaked a design project to make it “hard enough” for us and assessed our work at the end of the session. The kids were empowered, or rather IN power, and seemed to be having the time of their lives building STEM skills.
On March 3, just one day before the president released his FY2015 budget proposal, the House Budget Committee issued a report on federal spending related to federal antipoverty efforts entitled The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later. Among the 92 federal programs reviewed in the report is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.
The Budget Committee report seeks to examine the effectiveness of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s "War on Poverty" that was launched 50 years ago. According to the report, there are at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans, including education and job-training programs, food-aid programs and housing programs.
The report does include a brief entry on the 21st CCLC initiative, the only coordinated federal effort that supports afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs delivered by local schools and community-based organizations. 21st CCLC programs provide students attending high-poverty schools with academic enrichment activities; a broad array of additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program such as hands-on experiments to excite children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), access to physical activity, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, opportunities to be creative, and technology education programs; as well as literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are served in the program. In addition, afterschool programs provide an infrastructure to bring in other resources to our children including access to mentors, tutors, and nutritious snacks and meals.
Following up on the release of our first issue brief of the year, we hosted our first webinar of the year featuring three afterschool programs highlighted in the Common Core issue brief: Bridge the Gap College Prep in Marin City, California, Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL) in Baltimore, Maryland, and Raising Expectations in Atlanta, Georgia. The issue brief was only able to broadly discuss the unique and interesting ways these programs are supporting learning around the Common Core, and the webinar served as a platform for the programs to expand on their work and share with the field in greater detail about how they’ve tailored their programs to be more intentional about connecting to the Common Core.
From Rhode Island to Washington state and everywhere in-between, statewide afterschool networks are bringing together the afterschool field to find ways to support learning under the new Common Core State Standards.
Last November, School’s Out Washington held a one-day workshop to help align afterschool activities with school day lessons, as well as help afterschool providers communicate with parents and keep them informed about the Common Core. The workshop was open to afterschool and youth development programs interested in learning about how they can help students meet the goals and expectations of the Common Core. Janet Schmidt, chief program and policy officer for School’s Out Washington, commented that in afterschool programs, “[Kids] have that space, that time, to really dig in and experience things hands-on in a new way than what a classroom teacher has during the school day, with the constraints of the schedules that they have.”
In June, Adam Greenman, executive director of the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance (RIASPA), shared how his organization is working with afterschool programs in Rhode Island to better understand the Common Core. From holding information sessions and presentations about the Common Core to working with the state’s Department of Education to provide joint professional development opportunities for school day staff and afterschool providers, RIASPA is working to help programs align their work to foster success among students. Adam said it best, “The Common Core State Standards offer afterschool practitioners and teachers opportunities to align programming and content with each other in a way that satisfies our mutual goals: the healthy development of children and youth.”
At the Afterschool Alliance, we are thrilled to start off the new year with the release of the first in a series of issue briefs that explore the many ways afterschool programs are playing an integral role supporting the academic, social and emotional growth of middle schoolers across the country. In partnership with MetLife Foundation, this year’s series of issue briefs will focus on the Common Core State Standards, students with disabilities and other special needs, the use of data to improve afterschool programs, and keeping kids safe and supported in the hours after school. This issue brief, “Afterschool and the Common Core State Standards,” discusses the need to better prepare students for future success in college and work; the basics of the Common Core; and the variety of ways afterschool programs are working with students, teachers and schools to support learning under the Common Core.
The latest Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) scores released in December 2013 found that the U.S. ranked 26 in math, 21 in science and 17 in reading out of the 34 OECD countries. The scores also showed that a higher percentage of U.S. students were performing at the lower levels of PISA’s proficiency scale in math than the OECD average. However, what stood out among OECD’s findings was that U.S. students had shown no significant change in their reading scores since 2000, no significant change in math since 2000 and no significant change in science since 2006.
We’re inviting teachers, afterschool leaders and educators everywhere to celebrate Digital Learning Day by accepting the #make4DLDay challenge, a set of digital storytelling activities that allow youth and adults to be makers for Digital Learning Day.
Both the maker education and digital learning movements are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing. From cardboard and clay to circuits and computers, kids can use a variety of analogue and digital tools to tell their story. The #make4DLDay challenge is about sharing ideas among educators, and experimenting with modern ways of engaging youth in making and digital storytelling.
Accepting the #make4DLDay challenge is easy—here’s how:
- Choose your level. We’ve got multiple activities for educators with varying levels of experience using digital tools. Choose your level based on the tools most readily accessible to you.
- Pick a relevant topic. Digital storytelling can be applied to almost any topic, from geography to STEM. Design your activity around a topic of interest to your students.
- Share your work. On Feb. 5, share your photos, videos and links to students’ work with other innovative educators by using the hashtag #make4DLDay.