The bipartisan STEM Education Act, H.R. 5031 introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), passed the House last month and is now in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill has three goals:
- It expands the definition of STEM education as it pertains to federally funded programs to include disciplines such as computer science
- Grows programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal STEM education activities
- Extends eligibility for NSF’s Noyce Teacher Fellowship program to teachers pursuing master’s degrees in their fields
Of particular interest to the out-of-school field, the bill gives a directive to NSF to continue awarding grants and using funds to support informal and out-of-school STEM learning with the goal of increasing engagement in STEM and improving learning outcomes. Grants and funding would support existing and new programs in places such as museums and science centers.
Guest Blog: Afterschool programs addressing healthy living and food insecurity through HEPA standards
Pam Watkins is the vice president of youth development services at YMCA Youth Development Services in Kansas City, Kansas, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador.
The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is one of many afterschool programs nationwide that has embraced the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Recently, at one of our afterschool sites with a high rate of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, we had a family that had just moved here from California and enrolled four of their children in our program. The oldest child, Juan (name has been changed to keep anonymity), was ever-watchful over his siblings and was constantly correcting them if they were doing something inappropriate. After about a week the site supervisor overheard Juan tell his siblings that they needed to eat a snack because their mom had said she wasn't sure whether they would have dinner that night or not. When the site supervisor pulled Juan off to the side, he told her that his dad had still not found a job and his mom was working two part time jobs—but it still wasn't enough and they usually didn't have money for food.
The Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) and the MacArthur Foundation have announced their fifth Digital Media and Learning Competition—the Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments. The Trust Challenge will award a total of $1.2 million—in $10,000 to $150,000 year-long development grants—to institutions and organizations that look to answer questions around trust, privacy, safety and learning in an open online world. Proposals will address questions such as:
- How can learners exercise control over who sees and uses their data?
- What tools do they need in order to navigate, collaborate and learn online with confidence?
- What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments?
- How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust?
Applications will be accepted Sept. 3 to Nov. 3, 2014.
By Jen Rinehart
Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., have joined the rapidly growing Cities of Learning movement, a new effort to network citywide resources to keep youth (ages 4 to 24) engaged in educational and career opportunities when school lets out. Cities are funded by local partners and receive national support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Digital Youth Network and the Badge Alliance.
Cities of Learning offer free or low-cost opportunities for youth to learn online or participate in programming at parks, libraries, museums and other institutions. Whether through robotics, fashion design, coding competitions or workplace internships, Cities of Learning provide an array of engaging opportunities for young people to explore new interests, develop their talents, and create unique pathways toward college or a career.
Chicago launched the Cities of Learning movement in 2013 with a successful summer program that now continues year-round. This summer, Dallas, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh will kick off their Cities of Learning, with Columbus and Washington, D.C., joining the lineup this fall. More cities are planning to launch in 2015.
This week the Aspen Institutes Task Force on Learning and the Internet released its much anticipated report, Learner at the Center of a Networked World. The report and series of recommendations seeks to ensure today’s students are at the center of, and have access to, safe learning inside and outside of the classroom that prepares them for future success. The comprehensive report addresses the serious issues of trust, safety, privacy, digital literacy and accessibility—especially for underserved students. In their recommendations, the task force recommends actions to help all students connect safely and maximize learning experiences online.
The task force—composed of 20 thought leaders with diverse perspectives on learning, innovation and safety, and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation—finalized the report after a year of study, outreach to stakeholders including the afterschool field, public input and internal deliberations. Former Governor of Florida and Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) Jeb Bush and Co-Founder of Voto Latino Rosario Dawson served as Honorary Co-Chairs.
We're thrilled to announce that we have partnered with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to offer the first ever Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award. We need your help to find exceptional afterschool programs that are providing strong literacy support to middle schoolers—helping them to develop their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. The winning afterschool program will be awarded $10,000 and recognized at the Afterschool Alliance’s national Afterschool for All Challenge.
Nominate a program today! Or, nominate your own program today! We also encourage afterschool program directors, staff, volunteers and students to nominate their own program.
The Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award is a great opportunity to highlight the critical work taking place outside of the school day to ensure that middle school students have the necessary support and guidance to build the literacy skills that will help them succeed both in and out of school.
The deadline for nominations is Aug. 15.
The online nomination form has more detailed instructions, but feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any questions you may have about this process.
Good luck and we look forward to learn more about the valuable work to strengthen students’ literacy skills that is taking place in afterschool programs across the country.
Last week, the White House Science Fair hosted more than 100 students from across the U.S. to showcase their inventions and projects. Students, either individually or in teams, had won a variety of national and regional competitions in everything from rocketry, robotics and electric vehicles. Two of these teams represented afterschool programs! Pres. Obama toured the fair, meeting all of the students, and then announced new components of the Educate to Innovate initiative, including an expansion of the STEM AmeriCorps program and a national STEM mentoring effort.
We’ve gotten some great submissions for this year’s Lights On Afterschool poster, but we think there’s even more afterschool talent out there—and we want to see it! That’s why we’re extending the poster deadline to Monday, June 9, 2014.
This contest is a great opportunity for an afterschool program to gain national recognition for the great enrichment opportunities it offers, since the young artist’s program will be credited on the poster, too!
- The winning design will be printed on tens of thousands of posters
- The design will be displayed at thousands of Lights On Afterschool celebrations across the country
- The winning artist will be featured on our website, blog and Afterschool Storybook
We can't wait to see what you come up with!