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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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Child nutrition policy proposals focus on afterschool and summer learning programs

By Erik Peterson

With the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 unanimously passing the Senate Agriculture Committee last month, the process of reauthorizing the federal child nutrition programs is well under way. The bill, which is expected to head to the Senate floor sometime this spring, would impact the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals. At the same time President Obama recently announced a new Administration initiative calling for major investments in preventing child hunger.

The bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill, crafted by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), includes a number of provisions of interest to afterschool and summer learning providers, including:

  • Streamlining summer and afterschool meal coordination, which will allow afterschool meal sites to choose to operate year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. This will allow sponsors to operate one program rather than two, and significantly reduce duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules protecting the new school meal nutrition standards that are improving our children’s health and the school nutrition environment. The Afterschool Alliance had strongly recommended such a provision. The streamlining provision is phased in over time.

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learn more about: Budget Congress Health and Wellness


Weekly Media Roundup: February 3, 2016

By Luci Manning

Students Get Young Peers Excited About Science Through Outreach Programs (Wesleyan Argus, Connecticut)

Middletown elementary students are gazing through telescopes, designing galaxies and making crystals thanks to two programs run by the Wesleyan University astronomy department that aim to make science fun for young students. Wesleyan students write lesson plans and run the afterschool Kids Korner at five elementary schools in the area, expanding children’s interest in science. “The most rewarding part about being involved with the program is watching the elementary school kids’ faces light up when they learn something new,” club co-coordinator Madeleine Junkins told the Wesleyan Argus.

Raytheon Helps Afterschool Club Members Discover Physics of Fun at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Arena (Frisco Enterprise, Texas)

Three hundred Boys & Girls Club members recently learned how math and physics affect the basketball skills of their favorite professional players. Employees from defense contractor Raytheon used basketballs to demonstrate different science lessons to students and let them show off their physical prowess. They discussed how air pressure affects the buoyancy of a basketball, compared their heights and wingspans with those of several Dallas Mavericks players and tested their leaping abilities. Raytheon hoped the event would show students how important science is to everyday life. “Music, sports – there’s math and science in everything you love to do,” senior community relations manager Kim Parks told the Frisco Enterprise. Raytheon’s eight North Texas locations have supported area Boys & Girls Clubs with Engineering Week events and other volunteer activities.

Lessons in Learning: Aloha Angels Funds Almost 50 After-School Programs Districtwide (Garden Island, Hawaii)

Several years ago, Koloa Elementary Schools stopped receiving government funding for afterschool programs. Thanks to Aloha Angels, this year they were able to offer 15 programs, including ukulele band, art and cooking. Aloha Angels, a nonprofit that raises funds to support teachers and students, turned its attention to afterschool a few years ago and has since raised $334,000 to help fund programs throughout the school district. “The organization started funding afterschool programs in 2014 after Sherry Gonsalves, principal at Kilauea Elementary School, emphasized the importance of needing an outlet for students to learn subjects like art, music and sports, which are not taught during the school day, said Ric Cox, president of Aloha Angles,” the Garden Island reports. Now six different schools offer at least five programs, each emphasizing the mentoring relationships between teachers and students.

Afterschool Program at Centennial Farm Earns an Award (Los Angeles Times, California)

The California Park and Recreation Society recently recognized the Ranch Afterschool Program, an initiative of Costa Mesa’s Parks and Community Services Department that provides students with hands-on farming experience. According to the Los Angeles Times, the program teaches students agricultural techniques and how to care for farm animals, even maintaining a portion of the farm’s land. “Agricultural education helps children learn about healthy food choices and teaches them different ways to access fresh fruits and vegetables,” city spokesman Tony Dodero said. “Most importantly, students begin to understand the deep impact agriculture has in their lives: past, future and present.” 



A second look at "Parenting in America"

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last month, we wrote a blog highlighting key findings from the Pew Research Center’s report, Parenting in America: Outlook, worries, aspirations are strongly linked to financial situation. Due to the enormous amount of questions asked in the Pew survey and the variety of demographic breakdowns covered in the 100-plus report, we weren’t able to dive deep into each and every one of the findings that stood out to us. Which is why we decided to go back, take a second look at the report, and this time take parents’ responses related to afterschool in Pew’s survey and compare them to parents’ responses from America After 3PM, our national household survey examining how children spend the hours after school.

A key takeaway from Pew’s report that I'd like to spend a little more time on are the socioeconomic and racial gaps that arise, especially when looking at parents’ ability to find afterschool opportunities for their children. The report found that for some parents—especially lower-income families and African-American parents—locating affordable, high-quality afterschool activities and programs in their community is challenging. More than half of families making less than $30,000 annually (52 percent) report that it is hard to find affordable, high-quality afterschool programs and activities. This is 23 percentage points higher than families with an annual income of over $75,000. African-American parents are even more likely to report difficulties. Fifty-six percent of African-American parents report that it is hard to find afterschool programs and activities. This is also higher than both White and Hispanic parents (35 percent and 38 percent, respectively). 

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learn more about: Working Families


Encourage your female high school students to try coding this summer!

By Erin Murphy

Girls Who Code has just opened applications for their FREE Summer Immersion Program, a seven-week introduction to computer science for 10th and 11th grade girls. If you have girls who are or might be interested in coding or STEM, please encourage them to apply! No prior experience is required.

During the program, participants connect coding to their passions, explore career opportunities within the world of computer science and engineering, and join a supportive and diverse community of girls who are passionate about coding.

Girls Who Code will be hosting 18 Summer Immersion Programs in the following cities:

  • Atlanta, GA (new!)
  • Austin TX (new!)
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Newark, NJ
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Emeryville, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Redwood City, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • San Ramon, CA
  • Santa Clara, CA

Though the program itself is free, additional transportation stipends and need-based scholarships are available to support students who qualify.
Applications are due March 1, 2016 at 11:59 PM PST.



Weekly Media Roundup: January 28, 2016

By Luci Manning

College Classes for Middle School Students? It’s Happening in Hayward (EdSource, California)

Middle school students in Hayward are studying anthropology, sociology, engineering and music after school – and earning college credit for their efforts. The district has partnered with Chabot College, a community college in Hayward, to offer courses at five area middle schools. Hayward may be the only middle school in California – or the country – to reach out to younger students. The primary purpose of the program is to expose middle school students to college work and show that they are college material. “Administrators in the district say that many of their students have no relatives or friends who have gone to college and are in danger of thinking or being told that college is not for them,” reports EdSource

Tutor Helps Student Get Back to ‘A’ Level (Chicago Sun Times, Illinois)

Former math teacher Andrea Morgan is going above and beyond the call of duty as a tutor and mentor with the Chicago Lights Tutoring program. Her weekly one-on-one after school tutoring sessions with 17-year-old Zaria Greenlee turned into regular hang-outs for the pair. They cook dinner, shop for school supplies and even visit colleges together. The program pairs tutors with 400 students of all ages from underprivileged neighborhoods on Chicago’s Near North Side and West Side, and while many of these relationships extend beyond the walls of the classroom, Zaria and Morgan have formed a uniquely strong bond. “She’s more than a tutor to me – she’s like my best friend,” Zaria told the Chicago Sun Times.

SFA Partnering with Children in Nature to Encourage Kids to Get Outdoors More (KTRE, Texas)

While many of their peers stay inside and play video games, children in the Nacogdoches Boys & Girls Club are learning to cook outdoors and carry backpacks, thanks to a partnership with Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA). The afterschool outdoor education program is part of a Texas Children in Nature Network statewide initiative, a partnership of 300 organizations (including SFA) that aim to connect children and parents to the natural world. “In 2009, a bipartisan group got together and said this is really important that we need to get more kids and families interacting with nature,” state coordinator Jennifer Bristol told KTRE.

The Science of Food, Taught Peer to Peer (Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Pennsylvania)

Kids often don’t listen when their parents tell them to eat their vegetables, but one program in Philadelphia is proving that they may listen to their peers. Nonprofit Greener Partners, which works to increase access to fresh food, trains high school students to be Food Youth Leaders, tasking them with building lesson plans and running afterschool programs that promote gardening, farming and healthy eating. One such leader, high school junior Lacretia Jefferson, currently runs a food science course at Girard College, where she puts together fun nutrition-based activities and healthy cooking lessons for a group of high school students. “I think young people talking and learning from other young people is the best way to get them to understand,” she told the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. “I like showing other kids that if they can learn about something like a new vegetable, they can come to like it.”



New webinar: Creating the conditions for social and emotional learning

By Dan Gilbert

Join us on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. EST for a great discussion on best practices for encouraging social and emotional development in afterschool and summer learning programs.

By now, many of us have heard of the critical importance of developing social and emotional skills, but it is often difficult to connect frameworks and research to the everyday practices that help foster skill building in afterschool. In this webinar, we will focus on bridging the gap between research and practical applications of social and emotional learning practices that support skill building.

Deb Moroney and Jaime Singer from American Institutes for Research (AIR) will be joining us to talk about their resources that support the application of best practices in social and emotional learning in afterschool. AIR is a leader in the field of supporting social and emotional development through quality summer, afterschool, and expanded learning programs.

AIR has recently released a series of briefs and related tools that focus on connecting research to action. To accompany the first brief, AIR created an incredible new self-reflection tool to help programs identify both strengths and areas for potential growth, entitled Social and Emotional Learning Practices: A Self-Reflection Tool for Afterschool Staff.

Stacey Dario, from Temescal Associates, will also be joining the discussion to talk about how the Expanded Learning 360/365 group, in collaboration with the California School-Age Consortium, is using AIR’s Self-Reflection Tool for building quality in afterschool systems throughout California.

Come prepared to learn how research and action is moving the afterschool field toward ensuring all participants have opportunities for skill building and positive development.



Incorporating restorative justice in afterschool

By Erin Murphy


On Jan. 14, with support from the Connecticut Afterschool Network, the Rhode Island Statewide Afterschool Network hosted a webinar, Incorporating restorative justice in afterschool settingsdefining restorative justice, explaining its benefits in the afterschool setting and addressing how it can be integrated into programs. The panel for this webinar was made up of high school student advocates who had experienced restorative justice systems in their own afterschool programs.

What is restorative justice?

Unlike punitive justice, which focuses on punishing the offender, restorative justice focuses on repairing harm done. The goal is to identify who was harmed, explore why it happened, and solve the issue by considering the needs of all individuals involved—the victims and offenders. Three important principles within restorative justice include: involving the entire community, encouraging equity, and utilizing a proactive strategy.

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learn more about: Youth Development


The latest research in how policy is influencing STEM learning

By Erin Murphy

With the end of 2015 came large victories for afterschool. The passing of the new Every Student Succeeds Act secured the authorization of the 21st CCLC programs for the next four years, and the passing of the FY2016 omnibus spending bill increased funds for 21st CCLC by $15 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The omnibus also includes funding increases for education, health and human services, child care, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), all of which contribute to the development of high-quality out-of-school programs.

With education policy on our minds, we wanted to draw your attention to these new research briefs from the Relating Research to Practice (RR2P) project outlining the influence of education policy on K-12 STEM education.

High-stakes tests and ripple effects for science education

For almost two decades, strict accountability measures for schools have been in place across the country. In this study, Anderson investigated the effect of accountability on K–12 science instruction. Looking across multiple studies, he found that curricula have narrowed, less time is being dedicated to science, teacher morale is lower, and expectations for disadvantaged students have increased.

KEYWORDS: EvaluationPolicyTeaching