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10 best moments from the National Afterschool Summit

By Elizabeth Tish

On April 5, leaders in education, business, media, government, sports, and more gathered at the University of Southern California for the 2017 National Afterschool Summit, “Ready to Work,” co-hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute, and After-School All-Stars. High-wattage speakers brought their diverse backgrounds and perspectives to a series of engaging discussions about how afterschool prepares students to succeed at work and in life.

With so many powerful insights shared by an impressive roster of experts, it was hard to narrow the list of highlights, but here are ten of our favorite moments from the event:

  1. The Bell Gardens Intermediate and Generation Dance Team kicked off the event, led by their teacher and mayor, Jose Mendoza. Taking the stage after the performance, Extra’s Mario Lopez said he was an afterschool kid like the dancers, who come from a low-income community: “That was me... I’m living proof of what afterschool can do.”
  2. Matt Iseman, host of American Ninja Warrior and winner of The New Celebrity Apprentice, called us “Afterschool Ninja Warriors” and cheered on our efforts to battle President Trump’s proposed budget cut. Iseman commented, “Working parents are more productive at work when they know their kids are in a safe, productive environment.”
  3. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set the tone for the event, reminding us that more than 20 million kids are waiting for an afterschool program.
  4. NFL star JJ Watt, whose foundation provides afterschool opportunities to middle schoolers, shared that afterschool programs teach skills like teamwork and how to work hard. As Watt pointed out, these skills are not only important in school, but also in work and life.
  5. Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, discussed the reason afterschool and work are connected—and why employers should care about afterschool: "We want a diverse, educated workforce domestically. Afterschool can have a huge impact on that."
  6. Senate Afterschool Caucus co-chair Senator Lisa Murkowski stopped by via video message to encourage us all to reach out to our representatives in Congress and share the message that #AfterschoolWorks.
  7. Oregon Superintendent of the Year Heidi Sipe said, “Afterschool helps students dream new dreams… see a different future… Afterschool is a magical time. It is nonnegotiable.”
  8. “Afterschool makes a difference in the economic mobility of families and kids,” said Charlotte (N.C.) Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
  9. American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Gerard Robinson noted that afterschool helps kids “build minds, bodies, and spirits,” and the social capital skills kids need to succeed. 
  10. Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, touched on the reason for the event, saying, "Afterschool programs aren't just for academic preparation, but life preparation."

These are just a few highlights from the event. Relive the event by watching the full recording of the Summit, or check out what people said about the event on Twitter. Share your favorite moments with us using the hashtag #AfterschoolWorks! 

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These twin sisters celebrated Lights On Afterschool 2016 by becoming math champions

By Robert Abare

One might not think that basketball can help kids gain critical math skills. But for twin sisters Patricia and Angela Rodas, that’s exactly the case. The Rodas sisters have become rather like local celebrities in the San Francisco Bay Area through their success in NBA Math Hoops, a board game and curriculum that helps kids learn math through the lens of professional basketball. 

To play NBA Math Hoops (and learn math at the same time) students divide into teams to analyze NBA and WNBA players’ stats, strategize, and solve increasingly complex math problems. On October 6, 2016, the Rodas twins showed off their math expertise gained through NBA Math Hoops by winning (for the second year in a row!) the Bay Area NBA Math Hoops championship, as part of the national kick-off for Lights On Afterschool 2016.

Colleen Johnston, Program Manager for Bay Area Community Resources (BACR), has overseen the implementation of NBA Math Hoops at 55 of BACR’s afterschool program sites. Next year, NBA Math Hoops will be rolled out to more than 60 BACR schools in the Bay Area. Currently, NBA Hoops is in over 100 schools in the Bay Area.  It is primarily being played during Out of School time.

“This is disguised learning at its best,” said Johnston about NBA Math Hoops. “The game is fast paced, so it keeps kids engaged, and the curriculum associated with the game builds over time, so it has the capacity to teach both very basic math skills and the very advanced.”

Indeed, the Rodas twins said NBA Math Hoops is helping them succeed in the classroom. “Math Hoops has helped me get better with multiplication and be more confident in the classroom,” said Angela.

Angela added, “My parents like NBA Math Hoops because it’s improved my grades.”

Thanks to their previous success playing NBA Math Hoops and their participation in this year’s national Lights On Afterschool kick-off event, the Rodas twins have become local role models for their peers, showing them that anyone can do well in math. The twins have also helped shine a light on the power of afterschool programs to teach kids valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.

“When they first started playing NBA Math Hoops, the twins were very shy and didn’t like public speaking,” said Johnston. “Now, they’ve become like local celebrities. The game has helped them realize how much they love math, and their confidence has grown so much that they’re already talking about college.”

Johnston also praised the curriculum for its ability to engage both boys and girls. “NBA Math Hoops includes both NBA and WNBA players, so both boys and girls can get excited about the game,” she said. “And for the past two years, the majority of the teams in the Elite 8 of the Bay Area NBA Math Hoops championship have been girls.”

BACR afterschool programs helped their students make strides in math for Lights On Afterschool on October 20, 2016, when programs held mini NBA Math Hoops tournaments, carnivals, and open houses. Lights On Afterschool calls national attention to how afterschool programs, like BACR and the program’s implementation of NBA Math Hoops, are working to provide kids with hands-on STEM learning experiences that prepare them for our complex and changing world.



This program used Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on health and wellness

By Robert Abare

For the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles (BGCELA), encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles goes hand-in-hand with the other areas of the organization’s mission: building students’ academic success and developing their character. For Lights On Afterschool 2016, BGCELA celebrated its achievements in keeping kids healthy by embracing a fun and unusual theme: bubbles.

BGCELA hosted a community 5K “Bubble Run” for Lights On Afterschool last month, providing a fun outlet for kids, their families, and local celebrities to get active while celebrating the importance of health and wellness education. Participants in the Bubble Run walked or jogged through mountains of bubbles at various checkpoints along the run, where local radio stations also filled the air with their music.

Happy memories lead to lifelong healthy habits

“It basically looked like a washing machine exploded,” said Anna Araujo, Executive Director of BGCELA and former Afterschool Ambassador. “We wanted to use this event to make healthy habits as fun and interactive for the kids as possible. That way, we give kids happy memories related to healthy activities, and those practices become lifelong habits.”

The event was emceed by Peter Daut, a local news anchor, and celebrity appearances were made by Luis Guzman of Code Black, Boxer Victor Ortiz, DJ Cece The Mamacita of KDAY, telenovela actor Adriana Fonseca, singer Miguelilto and actor Anthony “Citric” Campos of The George Lopez Show.

In keeping with the theme, kids also played “Bubble Soccer” at BGCELA’s Lights On Afterschool event, thanks to a local vendor. A local Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fitness program also led the event’s warm up activities, and various vendors offered samples of healthy foods and drinks (and water was provided at no cost).

Boxer Victor Ortiz races with singer Miguelito. Actor Luis Guzman signs a student's Bubble Run t-shirt.


Guest blog: America SCORES poet-athletes meet their U.S. National Team heroes

By Guest Blogger

Written by Jake Lloyd (DC SCORES) and Dimi Venkov (America SCORES).

We were staring at the White House when the gaggle of elementary school soccer players let out a gasp. We turned around, wondering what the commotion was all about. It didn't take long to identify the source.

Striding toward us across President's Park, in lockstep, was the world champion U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT). We watched, open-mouthed, as the women who inspired millions of young soccer lovers this summer approached us.

The scene was a pleasant, if chilly, Monday afternoon, the occasion:  a clinic for a team of 30 SCORES poet-athletes from Washington, D.C., in conjunction with partner Coca Cola, the National Parks Foundation, and the National Park Service’s "Find Your Park" movement.

The clinic was great. Groups of students cycled in and out of stations led by USWNT coach Jill Ellis and her staff: speed-dribbling relays, communication drills, and one-touch shooting. The coaches were enthusiastic and always moving. The kids followed suit, clearly thrilled to display everything they’ve learned in SCORES this season. These 30 poet-athletes are among the 85% of SCORES students nationally that will increase their cardiovascular capacity this year—and the 80% of kids across the country whose afterschool program helps them get active. Find out more about our impact here.

Of course, their excitement skyrocketed when the stars of the summer approached. Organizers and volunteers from the Catholic University men's soccer team had to settle the kids down so as not to swarm the likes of Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, and Sydney Leroux.



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.



Schwarzenegger to Help Unveil America After 3PM

By Ursula Helminski

Being afterschool data geeks, we're terribly excited about the upcoming release of new America After 3PM research. And now we’ve got the Terminator on our team.  This week, Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will help share the 2014 data with media and shine a light on the need for more investments in quality afterschool programs, just as programs across the nation get ready to showcase their offerings at Lights On Afterschool rallies on Oct. 23.

Gov. Schwarzenegger is a long-time champion of afterschool programs—he founded the After-School All-Stars, and spearheaded the successful passage of a ballot initiative in California to fund afterschool programs across the state.  Last October, he visited the halls of Congress to urge leaders to preserve 21st Century Community Learning Center grant dollars for afterschool programs.



Weekly Media Roundup - September 24, 2014

By Luci Manning

Derrick Rose Gives $1 Million to Chicago Charity (Chicago Tribune, Illinois)
Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is donating $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago charity that arranges out-of-school apprenticeships for teens. “When Derrick looks at the kids we work really hard to serve, he sees himself or saw himself as one of those kids,” Vice Chairman of After School Matters Robbie Robinson explains to the Chicago Tribune. Rose grew up in the same area and told the Chicago Tribune, “To have a strong community of people who believe in your potential can make all the difference in the world. So many people have invested in me and I want to do the same for Chicago’s teens.”

Students Show Love for Cops on Police Appreciation Day (The Daily Home, Alabama)
Afterschool Students from First Baptist Church’s Child Development Center in Talladega adopted a new tradition: Police Officer Appreciation Day. The afterschool students created “survival kits” filled with candy and treats.  Students explained the special significance of each candy on the outside of the bag and presented the kits to the police officers, The Daily Home reports.

Kids 4 Kompany to Hold Food Drive (Times-Herald, Georgia)
Kids 4 Kompany Learning Academy in Newnan is organizing a food drive this month. Children in the academy are working on all aspects of the food drive: collecting non-perishable food items, organizing the food, and helping deliver it to a local organization in need. Denita Barnett, creator of the food drive, tells the Times-Herald, “I want to instill in the children here to give to others.” Barnett says she plans on making the food drive an annual event from here on out.

NOLA Access Grant Puts Technology Help Within Reach of Central City Youth, Adults (The Times-Picayune, Louisiana)
Thanks to a $19,600 NOLA Access Media Grant, students in Central City will get a chance to learn and develop their computer skills in a high-tech environment.  The afterschool program at the Israelite Baptist Church rapidly grew after the program was one of the few able to stay open after Hurricane Katrina.  Afterschool Program Director Eureka Harris told The Times-Picayune that the program aims to not only help students with homework and improve digital literacy, but also “to expand their belief in what is possible in their lives.” 



New BGCA Great Futures Campaign elevates the role of out-of-school time

By Erik Peterson

This week the Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched the Great Futures Campaign to call attention to the crisis facing America’s young people and to "redefine the opportunity equation" by elevating the role of out-of-school-time programs in reversing negative trends like poor academic performance, obesity, drug use, and youth-related violence. The Great Futures Campaign seeks to mobilize the nation in support of afterschool and summer learning programs that tackle these issues to inspire and empower more youth toward success.

The campaign identifies out-of-school-time programs as a key component of the solution to America’s youth crisis—but emphasizes that every day, 15 million kids (1 in 4) leave school with no place to go, putting them at risk of being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe. During the summer, an alarming 43 million (3 out of 4) kids in America lack access to summer learning programs, increasing their risk of learning loss and putting them at a disadvantage for the next school year.

The Afterschool Alliance supports the Great Futures Campaign in its mission to build additional support for afterschool, before school and summer learning programs. Research shows that out-of-school-time programs work: young people who attend afterschool and summer learning programs have better attendance, improved behavior, higher grades and improved test scores among other outcomes. Boys & Girls Clubs offer a variety of programs in the areas of education, health and nutrition, and character and leadership development at its more than 4,100 clubs nationwide. BGCA is also developing new programs to close the achievement gap for children most in need, including expanding programs like Summer Brain Gain to prevent summer learning loss, enhance STEM programs to nurture 21st century skills, and deploy a robust teen engagement strategy to ensure more young adults are on track to graduate from high school and become college- or career-ready.