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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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MAR
30
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Key points from the Aspen Institute Summit on Inequality and Opportunity

By Leah Silverberg

On March 16, the Aspen Institute held its annual Summit on Inequality & Opportunity in Washington, D.C. The conversations this year largely focused on income inequality and the difficulty of upward financial mobility for low-income families, contributing to the widening opportunity gap in the United States.

In the first panel of the day, Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at New York University, and Rachel Schneider, Senior Vice President at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, talked about their book The Financial Diaries and what they learned from tracking the finances of 235 low- and middle-income families over the course of a year. One key finding from the study demonstrated the overwhelming amount of income instability that low- and middle-income families experience from month to month and how it affects their daily lives and the way they plan their finances.

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learn more about: Economy Equity Federal Funding
MAR
8
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: An equity action agenda for youth development professionals

By Rachel Clark

By Jennifer Siaca Curry, Ed.D. Jennifer has worked in the afterschool and expanded learning field for over a decade, working with the statewide afterschool network in New York and ExpandED Schools. She explored afterschool programs delivered through school/community partnerships in her doctoral dissertation and is a member of the board of the NYS Network for Youth Success. This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Illustration via The Second Line Education Blog.

We are living in an important moment in time (an understatement!), and recommitting ourselves to equity and inclusion for all in the youth development field is a must. Youth programs have a long history of responding to social needs—sheltering kids from war in the early 20th century, providing child care as women entered the workforce in the 1970s, extending academic learning time in the No Child Left Behind-era.

I argue that today we are preparing for a new focus: the social and emotional needs of young people, and that this new opportunity is incomplete without an antidiscrimination framework. The youth development field is poised to protect children and youth of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, appearances, and abilities - to embrace their identities and lift their assets to support them in becoming productive, engaged, and successful adults.

And the good news? You don’t need a grant to make this happen. Here are six things you can do today to have a positive impact on the youth you serve.

Build a personal understanding of the history of oppression.

Experts agree that having deeper knowledge about our country’s history is central to weakening racism. While it’s certainly easier to leave the past behind us, building an understanding of the events, constructs, and people who laid the foundation for today’s discriminatory structures and beliefs will make you a stronger advocate and enable you to pass accurate historical knowledge on. One of my favorite anecdotes is from Marian Wright Edelman: a Texas student recognized his social studies textbook ignored the brutality of the slave trade, which he had learned in his Children’s Defense Fund program. Not only did he educate his classmates, but his protest led to McGraw-Hill issuing an apology and an updated version of the textbook!

Mind your words—they matter.

First, I recommend youth development professionals subscribe to a philosophy of multiculturalism rather than color blindness. Saying things like, “I don’t see color” or “I treat everyone the same” may feel innocuous, but research and experience suggest that people primed to have a color-blind perspective display more explicit and implicit biases than those primed with a multicultural perspective. When it comes to specifics, the Opportunity Agenda has curated a list of words and phrases that impede equity and inclusion, as well as replacement terms to use instead. It's a great document to use as required reading for new staff.

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learn more about: Equity Guest Blog
DEC
5
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Achievement gap covered at children's opportunity town hall

By Jodi Grant

On October 17, I joined leaders from across the country in Las Vegas to discuss the opportunity gap. I learned more about what organizations like the Children’s Leadership Council, Children’s Defense Fund, the National Council of La Raza and many more are doing to close the children’s opportunity gap. You can watch a recording of the Town Hall and find a full list of partner organizations here.

What does afterschool have to do with the opportunity gap for kids?

  1. There isn’t enough supply to meet the demand for afterschool – for every child in an afterschool program, there are two waiting to get in.
  2. Families with higher incomes spend 7 times as much as lower income families on afterschool programs, which results in about 6000 hours of learning loss between kids from low-income families and high-income families by the start of sixth grade.
  3. Poverty can live anywhere, even rural communities – for every child in a rural afterschool program, there are three waiting to get in.

Thank you to Every Child Matters for inviting me to be part of this group to discuss this important topic. You can join the conversation on Twitter using #KidsOpportunity. Children deserve all the resources necessary to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to get ahead. 

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learn more about: Equity Events and Briefings
NOV
3
2016

FUNDING
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This grant could support your program's socially conscious art project

By Elizabeth Tish

The Puffin Foundation West seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and voices often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy. To achieve that goal, the organization offers grants for arts projects that discuss a wide range of social and civil justice issues. 

A grant from Puffin Foundation West could provide valuable support to an afterschool program seeking to inform the local community about an important issue through the arts. Issues that could be addressed include food insecurity, peace, prisons, discrimination, race, culture, sexual orientation, trafficking, global warming, environmental protection, nuclear proliferation, poverty, gender issues, racial profiling, immigration, bullying, violence in schools, homelessness, gun control, animal rights, and more.

2016 Puffin grantees included the following:

  • ArtSparks is a nonprofit that sends professional teams of dance instructors and musicians to work with 900 third grade students in the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton City, Ohio school districts.
  • The Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition’s (MCC) Changing Minds Campaign raises positive visibility of the accomplishments of people who have mental illness. Each year, the MCC holds a celebration at the Massachusetts State House in Boston to recognize companies for taking action to diversify their workforce by hiring people who have mental illness.
  • Columbus Dance Theatre offers full or partial scholarship classes to young men and boys in central Ohio, in an effort to encourage the development of men in dance. Classes consist of ballet, fitness training, modern dance, jazz, partnering, and repertoire.
  • Play Us Forward seeks to overcome the socioeconomic barriers in learning how to play the violin by providing instruction and instruments at no cost to the student or student’s family.

You can find the full list of grantees on the Puffin Foundation West website. You must be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States to be eligible for the award, and must be applying for a project in the United States.

SEP
26
2016

RESEARCH
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Updated interactive dashboard with data on high-poverty communities

By Nikki Yamashiro

Following the release of our latest America After 3PM report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, which looks at the role of afterschool programs in areas where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line, our interactive web dashboard has been updated to feature data on the state of afterschool in these high poverty areas. On the communities of concentrated poverty dashboard page, you can find out what parents in these high poverty areas are looking for in their child’s afterschool program, how long children participate in afterschool programs, and how satisfied parents are with the activities in their child’s afterschool program. The dashboard also includes data on the barriers parents living in communities of concentrated poverty face enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

The primary goal of this dashboard is to create an easy way to navigate through the large amount of data collected through the America After 3PM survey. In addition to finding afterschool-related information on specific populations, such as communities of concentrated poverty and rural communities, you can see what afterschool looks like in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as learn about key subject areas, including STEM and health and wellness.

This latest update is the fifth in a series of updates we have made to the dashboard to make sure that it is able to provide you with as comprehensive a look at afterschool as possible. Take some time to explore all that the dashboard has to offer!

AUG
30
2016

RESEARCH
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New report reveals how afterschool aids communities of concentrated poverty

By Nikki Yamashiro

Where you live has direct and indirect impacts on the fundamental resources and opportunities you count on, and which many people may take for granted. Your location affects the quality of schools available to you, your access to healthy and affordable food, and your overall wellbeing and future economic success.

This is why the Afterschool Alliance believed it was critical to examine the role that afterschool programs are playing (or not playing) in communities of concentrated poverty. These are neighborhoods, or groupings of neighborhoods, where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line. This is the first time that America After 3PM data has been used to look at high-poverty communities that research has found are struggling when looking at economic, academic and health indicators.

In our new America After 3PM special report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, we take a closer look at the afterschool program experience of children and families living in communities of concentrated poverty, including participation in afterschool programs, barriers preventing participation, activities and services provided by programs, and satisfaction with programs.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The demand for afterschool school and summer learning programs in communities of concentrated poverty is high. Both participation in and the demand for afterschool and summer learning programs is higher in communities of concentrated poverty compared to the national average. 
    • Close to 1 in 4 children living in communities of concentrated poverty (24 percent) participate in an afterschool program, compared to less than 1 in 5 nationally (18 percent). More than half of children in communities of concentrated poverty not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if one were available (56 percent), compared to the national average of 41 percent.
    • When asked about participation in summer learning programs, 41 percent of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty reported that their child participated in a summer learning program and 66 percent would like their child to take part in a summer learning program, higher than the national average of 33 percent and 51 percent, respectively.
JUL
19
2016

STEM
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Changing the game for girls in STEM

By Erin Murphy

A new white paper from the nationally-recognized STEM education provider Techbridge calls for a more sophisticated approach to engaging girls in STEM. Across the U.S., girls are growing up in cities and regions bustling with innovation, yet many do not consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) due to lack of encouragement and opportunity. Meanwhile, STEM jobs are growing at an unprecedented rate, and companies are scrambling to build diversity in their workforce. Closing the opportunity gap for girls, especially for girls of color, will open up a tremendous untapped pool of talent.

Disappointingly, many previous and ongoing efforts to engage girls and minorities in STEM have had a hard time moving the needle. This paper draws upon Techbridge’s 16 years of experience in successfully improving outcomes for girls in STEM, as well as interviews from STEM education leaders in order to spotlight the most effective ways to foster diversity and inclusion in the workforce. The paper reveals two broad strategies to engineer a revolution in STEM diversity:

  • Design with diverse girls and communities in mind. Make sure to understand who will be in your program and customize programming and curriculum. Girls from different communities will have different wants and needs. Program designers should listen to the voices from the communities they serve.
  • Strengthen the girl-centric ecosystem. There are many factors that will influence the likelihood of girls to pursue STEM, so building strong community partnerships is key. Embrace an ecosystem approach and build partnerships between programs and families. Additionally, build relationships between programs and STEM industries to train female role models who can work with girls.
JUL
14
2016

IN THE FIELD
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How afterschool can help communities in face of division

By Jodi Grant

Children are often more in touch with the world around them than adults—they constantly ask questions about things they see and hear. Today, this awareness may lead to especially difficult questions, as recent tragedies in Orlando, Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas are still fresh in the hearts of Americans, and heated conversations on racism and prejudice grip the nation.

Thankfully, afterschool programs provide safe, supportive settings for children amid difficult circumstances, and often become one of the first places youth feel comfortable asking questions, sharing views and expressing emotions that spring from tough issues. For some kids, program staff are even like extended family.

That said, helping youth address violence, fear, grief and racism presents a considerable and challenging responsibility. I encourage educators to explore a valuable list of resources provided by the Partnership for After School Education (PASE), which offers guidance on navigating challenging topics and circumstances with children.

As an additional resource, the Afterschool Alliance and the out-of-school time field recently welcomed the advice of Dr. David J. Schonfeld, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, in a webinar on how to support grieving children. In the webinar recording, youth services professionals can learn coping strategies to minimize children’s distress and behavioral difficulties that may arise from feelings of loss, confusion and anger.

Beyond providing welcoming environments for delicate conversations, afterschool programs serve as a glue that bonds various community partners in a united effort to support youth. Law enforcement agencies have often become those partners, and they are an increasingly vital one. When police and youth get to know each other in a fun, informal setting, they build positive personal relationships. Those bridges can help break down stereotypes, provide youth with new trusted mentors and build bonds that strengthen communities.

Aaron Dworkin, the President of After-School All-Stars, provided an inspiring example of the afterschool field rising to the challenge of building cooperative, peaceful communities. “We believe our programs and staff play an important and powerful role in many communities being affected by violence,” he said in a statement to stakeholders. “Many of us are in a unique position to help facilitate important conversations led by professionally trained counselors and to offer support and assistance to students, families, staff and schools working to reduce violence and cope with the trauma of its aftermath.”

This determined effort to promote harmony and encourage meaningful discussion has the potential to impact more than 70,000 youth who participate in After-School All-Stars programs at 326 schools across the country. These inspiring actions by the afterschool field may not generate bold national headlines, but they inspire the next generation of Americans to work together in peace, respect and mutual understanding.