By Luci Manning
Patrick Pinchinat is the Beacon Director at the Queens Community House in New York City. He was previously an Afterschool Ambassador.
I’ve always promoted the importance of afterschool. Before I became Beacon Director at the Queens Community House, I participated in an afterschool program as a youth. Even as a young person participating in an afterschool program, I found ways to advocate for afterschool. For the last few years, I’ve led an advocacy campaign to promote afterschool programs at Queens Community House, as well as advocate for out-of-school-time programs throughout New York City as a member of Campaign for Children.
During my year as a Bowne Foundation sponsored Afterschool Ambassador, I’ve been able to bring our advocacy campaign at Queens Community House Beacon to the next level. I organized several different events to help promote our afterschool programs and increase the momentum of our projects.
When possible, we always included students in our activities. For example, we’ve put on a talent show and an advocacy “carnival” in which our afterschool participants were able to showcase what they were learning. It was a great way to show off our afterschool program in action and demonstrate how afterschool programs help to inspire creativity. We invited elected officials to the carnival so they could spend time with our students and see first-hand all of the great activities our kids take part in every day.
Esther Grant-Walker is the Program Director of School Aged Childcare at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in New York City. Esther previously served as an Afterschool Ambassador.
A sustained advocacy campaign is key to raising public perception and awareness of afterschool programs. Planning an advocacy campaign does not need to be time consuming or costly. A very simple campaign can be as effective as an elaborate one.
During the past year, with the support of the Bowne Foundation, I began to develop a sustained advocacy campaign to promote my afterschool program. New York City afterschool program funding was threatened with cuts during the past few city budget cycles. As the Program Director of School Age Childcare at the Isaacs Center Afterschool Program, I can see that there is a need for increased afterschool advocacy to promote not just my afterschool program, but programs across the city.
I decided focus my campaign on bringing parents and schools together to support afterschool. Many of our parents take our afterschool programs for granted because they are funded by the city. They assume that funding for afterschool will always be in place. In reality, city funding is never guaranteed. To educate parents, I decided to launch an advocacy campaign that would not only teach them about the challenges facing afterschool programs, but would also train them and other community members to be active advocates for afterschool.
Afterschool Ambassador Deepmalya Ghosh is the director of youth development programs at the Child Center of New York, Inc.
Increasing public awareness of your afterschool program is an important key to running a successful advocacy campaign. While traditional media sources, such as newspaper articles and TV news stories, are great ways to increase visibility, afterschool programs are increasingly turning to social media as a way to build support and momentum. One of the benefits of social media is that it is a low-cost, effective way to reach a large number of people.
During my term as an Afterschool Ambassador sponsored by the Bowne Foundation, I found great success using social media to build momentum for an afterschool advocacy campaign. I am the Director of Youth Development for the Child Center of NY, an organization that provides afterschool programming, among other services, to children in New York City. Realizing we needed to reach beyond traditional media sources when promoting our programs, we developed a campaign to leverage social media to maximize our advocacy efforts. There was a sense of joint purpose among other afterschool providers in the city, so I often shared what they were doing to advocate for afterschool with our team.
|Sherry Comer is the director of afterschool services in Camdenton, Missouri, and a former Afterschool Ambassador. Her school’s FIRST Robotics team went to the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, this year.|
Every day in Camdenton, Missouri, R-III afterschool programs, change is happening. Students are developing 21stcentury skills that will carry them into the future to be successful in an ever-changing global economy.
Through FIRSTRobotics, 4th through 12th grade students in our rural community have gotten excited and engaged in what is often referred to as “the hardest fun ever!” Our teachers and technical mentors push them to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to go over, under, around and through walls that society says they can’t penetrate. FIRST is designed to create an atmosphere where students combine the excitement of sports with the rigors of STEM. Under strict rules and with limited resources and tight time limits, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get.
Below, watch the Camdenton 4-H LASER team's winning robot in action!
By Luci Manning
By Luci Manning
The article “Rural After-School Efforts Must Stretch to Serve,” published last week in Education Week, provides a comprehensive look at the challenges and triumphs unique to afterschool programs serving rural areas. Education Week highlighted the rural afterschool programs led by Afterschool Ambassadors Linda Barton of Lander, Wyoming, and Sherry Comer of Camdenton, Missouri.
Many of the funding, staffing and transportation challenges discussed in the article echo the findings of the 2007 issue brief “Afterschool Programs: Helping Kids Succeed in Rural America.” The bipartisan Investment in Rural Afterschool Programs Act, introduced in the 111th Congress in 2009, sought to provide support and address the barriers that confront many rural afterschool programs. This year, as mentioned in the Education Week story, the "Uncertain Times 2012" report found that nearly 4 out of 10 afterschool programs reported that their budgets were worse today than at the height of the recession in 2008, with rural programs hit harder than most. The 113th Congress set to begin next month presents another opportunity for Congress to provide assistance to rural communities and their afterschool programs.