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FEB
16
2018

IN THE FIELD
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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

By Charlotte Steinecke

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same thing?’”

“Swaliga,” meaning “passion,” comes from the island of St. Martin. It’s the watchword for an innovative afterschool program in Washington, D.C., that connects youth with innovative education opportunities by uniting a love of music and arts with science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning.

Since opening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in 2012, Swaliga Foundation has served more than 6,000 youth worldwide. In the next five years, they’re looking to connect with 1 million young people worldwide – a goal Brown and his team are passionate about.

“Our mission is to become the world’s premiere source for innovative youth education.”

How do you innovate youth education in the age of the iPhone? Swaliga Foundation aims to change the way young people use technology by making technology producers out of technology consumers. They teach the technological skills necessary to effect that transformation by tying them to the interests students already have—their passions for sound-mixing, composing music, shooting videos, and beyond.

FEB
6
2018

CHALLENGE
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Get ready for We Love Afterschool 2018!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Mark your calendars — February 14 is We Love Afterschool! Starting now, we’re celebrating the millions of reasons to love America’s afterschool programs, and we want to see why you and your students love afterschool!

Joining in can make for an easy and fun activity for your program in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. We've prepared a printable for participants to decorate with the reasons they love afterschool, plus some customizable social media samples to share your story.

Taking part is simple. All you have to do is:

  1. Download the toolkit.
  2. Make copies of the included We Love Afterschool sign.
  3. Ask students (and parents!) to fill them out.
  4. Snap photos of the finished product and share them on social media with the hashtags #AfterschoolWorks and #IHeartAfterschool! (You'll also find ready-to-use graphics, a Facebook frame, and .gifs to share on social media!)

Ready to get started? Download the toolkit now.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2E68WwC
learn more about: Afterschool Voices Events
JAN
23
2018

STEM
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Call for submissions to afterschool-themed issue of Connected Science Learning

By Leah Silverberg

Connected Science Learning is looking for you to submit to the fall issue highlighting afterschool partnerships! A project of the National Science Teachers Association and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Connected Science Learning focuses on sharing the effective methods of collaboration and programming between out-of-school and in-school learning Geared toward STEM education professionals, the online, peer-reviewed, journal highlights research, programs, and initiatives connecting preK-12 students with STEM learning opportunities. First published in March of 2016, the journal has had issues focusing on STEM education for early learners, STEM learning ecosystems, and more.

What type of articles are they looking for?

Connected Science Learning publishes original research showing outcomes and impacts of in-school and out-of-school STEM learning partnerships. Submissions go through a double-blind peer-review process and extensive editing with assistance from the Connected Science Learning editorial team. In addition to issue-specific features, articles can be submitted under three categories: “Research to Practice, Practice to Research,” “Emerging Connections,” and “Diversity and Equity.”

JAN
11
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I wanted to create something ... that shared the power and impact of my afterschool program"

By Guest Blogger

By Kaleb Robertson.

Kaleb is a senior at Green Bay West High School and was recently named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador for 2016-17 by the Afterschool Alliance. He has been attending the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay afterschool program for more than five years. This letter outlines his experiences in this program and how they have influenced his path and future successes.

I originally came to the Boys and Girls Club because I had friends who attended. While I initially thought it was just a place to hang out, I quickly learned that the Club had a lot more to offer afterschool and in the summer. Caring staff who serve as mentors, leadership development opportunities, and future planning are just a few of the benefits I have been able to experience. None of these things would have been possible for me if not for my afterschool program.

One of the first programs I joined was the Be Great: Graduate program. ‘Be Great’ is a program that matches a teen with a staff member or ‘graduation coach’. My coach, Greg, has made sure that I have kept good grades and stay safe. He’s someone I know I can talk to, even though he is my formal mentor. And there are lots of other Club staff who have helped me along the way. I am comfortable knowing that whenever I come to the Club, there is always someone I can go to for guidance, support, and advice.

The Club also has great leadership opportunities, including the Keystone Club. Keystone is a program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and practice leadership and community service. Keystone members complete and document service hours, organize fundraisers, and serve as leaders within the Club, even helping to make decisions that impact other kids. I became involved with Keystone since I started coming to Club, and have served as the Keystone President. I even got to attend the National Keystone Conference in 2016!

Besides being a leader, the Club has also helped realize and plan my future. Ms. Tori, the Club’s Graduation Specialist, has helped me stay on track and get my college applications done. Along with helping me plan financially how to stay afloat with my money and pointing me towards many scholarship opportunities, she has also coordinated several campus visits so I have a better idea of what I’m looking for in a college.

For my Youth Ambassador project, I wanted to create something that I could give to people that shared the power and impact my afterschool program has had on me. I will be taking pictures of programs around the Club and turning them into a photo storybook. This way I will not only be able to tell my story to people, but also leave a copy of it behind for them to share with others. 

My afterschool experience has been nothing short of transformational. It has helped me stay on track to graduate and also helped me to realize what my future can look like. Every kid should be able to access the same opportunities that I have. Afterschool programs make a difference!

JAN
5
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Conquering the high school transition with Road Map to Graduation

By Guest Blogger

By Roger Figueroa, program coordinator at Latin American Youth Center - Maryland Multicultural Youth Center. 

The transition for rising ninth graders is one filled with twists, turns, pitfalls, and barriers: the new and often larger environment, changes in academic responsibility, increased number of peer influences, and a new social structure can all be overwhelming. The LAYC-Maryland Multicultural Youth Center Road Map to Graduation program aims to create a supportive pathway for students.

The program seeks to provide wrap-around services to support students during their transition through Road Map workshops, an intensive five-week summer bridge program, after-school academic assistance, individual development plans, case management, and parent engagement.

JAN
4
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town"

By Guest Blogger

By Harli Jo McKinney

Welcome to our new blog series introducing the inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors! Building on the success of the Afterschool Ambassadors program, the Youth Ambassadors program connects five young people with alumni Afterschool Ambassadors to serve as mentors as each Youth Ambassador designs and carries out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, Youth Ambassadors will travel to Washington, D.C., next April to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff. 

My name is Harli Jo McKinney. I am from Stratford, Oklahoma. I am in 9th grade. I am a cheerleader, I play basketball, and I love to sing. I am so excited to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance as a Youth Ambassador. Afterschool has been a big part of my life. Since beginning school, I have always had an afterschool program. It has taught me so much and given me the extra push to be who I am. It has helped to make me a confident and outgoing person.

Stratford is a small town with a population of 1,500 and our school has about 700 students from Stratford and nearby towns. There are not a lot of jobs in our town. Parents have to drive at least 20 to 30 miles to get to their jobs. This leaves their children with nowhere to go afterschool.

Our afterschool program gives these students a place to go. My program helps us with homework and gives us opportunity to experience and learn new things every day. We do really fun things like cooking, photography, gymnastics, and robotics. We are adding a drone class that we are all really excited about.

Afterschool is so important to small, rural communities like our town. It gives our children a safe place to go and parents do not have to worry about them. There need to be more afterschool programs just like mine all over the country!

I would like to showcase the need for afterschool in my Youth Ambassador project. In my video production, I hope to convey the significant difference in rural communities with and without afterschool programs. I am excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Afterschool Alliance Youth Ambassador program!

DEC
22
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Highlights from 2017: A busy year for afterschool!

By Faith Savaiano

As the Afterschool Alliance team wraps up the last of our 2017 to-do items, we reflect back on a year that can only be described as ‘eventful’!

News from the Hill

In March, the president proposed complete elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative – the primary source of federal funding support for local school and community based afterschool and summer learning programs. In response, 2017 also saw the largest advocacy push on record by afterschool advocates – with tens of thousands of Americans making the case for continued federal afterschool support. Afterschool allies reached out to Congress with more than 79,400 calls and emails, energized supporters to turn out at town halls in their communities, and prompted more than 1,400 local, state, and national organizations to sign a letter in support of Community Learning Centers.

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated after school advocates, the final appropriations bill for FY2017, passed in early May 2017, increased 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding to $1.192 billion, a $25 million increase over the FY2016 level, and a record amount of funding for the program. The funds mean almost 2 million children in all 50 states will have access to quality, locally-run afterschool and summer learning programs. While funding for FY2018 is still uncertain as the country is operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 22, 2017, support for Community Learning Centers in Congress remains strong. (Read more about state and federal policy in 2017.) 

Growing the field

The Afterschool Alliance also had a productive year training volunteers and advocates who continue to work hard to bring quality afterschool programming to youth all over the country. In 2017, we hosted 38 AmeriCorps VISTA members serving in 18 states across the country in programs that focus on afterschool sustainability, afterschool and summer meals expansion, afterschool STEM expansion, or young men of color mentoring and literacy.

Additionally, we trained 15 new advocates who make up the 2017-2018 Afterschool Ambassador class. We also announced an inaugural class of five Youth Afterschool Ambassadors. The youth ambassadors are working in their local communities to help others understand the value of afterschool and summer learning programs. Each student is supported by an adult mentor who is an alumnus of the Afterschool Ambassadors program and will complete a project in their community advocating for afterschool and summer learning programs. Their year will culminate in April with when they will attend the Afterschool for All Challenge with their ambassador mentor — check the blog in the coming weeks for guest blogs and profiles as our Youth Ambassadors introduce themselves!

Events, projects, and campaigns

Speaking of the Afterschool for All Challenge, this year’s June event featured a showcase on the Hill with speakers including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). Teams from 45 states and D.C. attended 200 meetings all across the Hill to bring the case for afterschool to the Capitol. And supporters at home kept the phones were ringing off the hook! While we were on Capitol Hill, afterschool supporters made 761 phone calls and sent 3,286 emails to their representatives in Congress.

Our other successful events this year included the third National Afterschool Summit in April, in which we worked with the Schwarzenegger Institute and the After-School All-Stars to host an incredible gathering of sports stars, celebrities, military leaders, education leaders, students and more to voice their collective support for quality afterschool programming.

In October we had a hugely successful Lights On Afterschool included 8,000 registered events across the country. With unprecedented online engagement, thanks to our “My Light’s On Afterschool” light bulb challenge and all that posts shared from across the country, #LightsOnAfterschool was trending on both the west and east coasts on October 26.

What's next?

While this year had many successes, we’re already looking ahead at the challenges to come. While we expect to again face many of the same obstacles on the Hill in the coming months, we’re optimistic that the broad support and passionate advocacy that afterschool programs enjoy will help us fight the battles that may lay ahead. We cannot wait to come back in the New Year ready to continue our mission to bring quality afterschool programs to our nation’s youth.

NOV
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Introducing our inaugural class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors

By Charlotte Steinecke

Through our Afterschool Ambassadors program, every year we recruit a cohort of program providers and advocates of special distinction and provide them with training, technical support, and modest funding to complete projects that raise the profile of afterschool in their communities. This year, we're very excited to announce that we're building on the success of that program, with our new Youth Afterschool Ambassador initiative!

Our first five Youth Ambassadors will each design and carry out a project showcasing the value of afterschool programs. In addition, they will write blog posts for Afterschool Snack about the importance of afterschool and travel to Washington, D.C., next year to participate in the annual Afterschool for All Challenge, where they will meet with members of Congress and their staff.

The five Youth Afterschool Ambassadors in this inaugural class come from four states. They are: 

  • Ruben Balderas from Walla Walla Washington’s WaHi FORWARD Afterschool Program  
  • Maya Irvine from Camdenton, Missouri’s Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics Team  
  • Harli Jo McKinney from Stratford Oklahoma’s C3 Afterschool Program  
  • Kaleb Robertson from Green Bay, Wisconsin’s Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay  
  • Marisol Romero from Toppenish Washington’s 21st Century Community Afterschool and Summer Program at Safe Haven Community Center  

"The Youth Ambassador program is an incredible opportunity for students to share their experiences of afterschool and summer learning programs and the ways that participation in those programs have significantly impacted their lives," says Alexis Steines, director of field outreach at the Afterschool Alliance and manager of the Youth Ambassador program. "I look forward to seeing the creative advocacy projects our inaugural class of Youth Ambassadors is developing!"