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AUG
31
2016

IN THE FIELD
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How your program can observe 9/11 Day

By Robert Abare

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

It may seem strange that most children in afterschool programs today have no memory of the attacks that shook the country nearly 15 years ago on September 11, 2001. To help ensure our nation's youth never forget the legacy of that day, the Afterschool Alliance has joined a coalition of 20 organizations to encourage service, empathy and unity on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Called Tomorrow Together, the initiative includes large-scale service projects on and around September 11, 2016 to unite people across the nation in doing good works, like working to eliminate hunger or writing letters to troops overseas.

There are a number of ways your program can get kids involved in this national day of observance while learning about community service, empathy and working together.

Tools for your program to honor 9/11

  • Search for a 9/11 Day event in your community to join, or to offer your program as a partner.
  • Host a community service project using this toolkit designed to help nonprofits, schools and afterschool programs plan and coordinate an event.
  • Use these service-learning lesson plans developed by the National Youth Leadership Council, Ashoka and other organizations to teach kids about the history of 9/11, the importance of empathy, and other lessons.
  • Find logos for Tomorrow Together in various formats for social media and other publications, and check out these Tomorrow Together t-shirts for your staff or program participants. 
  • View a full gallery of 9/11 photos.  
AUG
31
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 31, 2016

By Luci Manning

Science Camp Has All the Elements for Fun, Learning (Bonner County Daily Bee, Idaho)

Thirteen students spent a week this summer learning about nature’s scientific processes through the All About Elements Outdoor Science Camp. The camp is run by Pullman Parks and Recreation research scientist Jamie Gaber, who worked with the students on experiments focused on chemical reactions and botany at the Lakeview Park arboretum. They used the periodic table to learn about the elements and experimented with sprouting seeds to determine optimal growing situations, reports the Bonner County Daily Bee.

Bill to Provide Free After School Programs to Poor California Students Passes Legislature (East Bay Times, California)

Last week, the California legislature passed a bill to give homeless, low-income and foster children priority access to free, state-funded afterschool programs, according to the East Bay Times. “Giving kids access to after school and summer programs helps children escape poverty by caring for their basic needs and improving their access to a true quality education,” Assemblywoman Nora Campos, the bill’s author, said. The bill will also make sure that afterschool programs use all available federal resources to provide healthy food to students.

Youth Become Water Leaders (San Angelo Standard-Times, Texas)

Ten San Angelo middle school students spent their summer learning about their hometown’s water resources, studying water quality, watershed and lake levels to become “water ambassadors” to the public. The Aqua Squad set up a gallery display using social media, videos and interviews to communicate their new knowledge to the community and encourage people to do more to conserve water and protect the area’s lakes. “It’s an amazing project that gave them so many skills that they don’t get at home or school, from interviewing to learning how to research projects and learning how to set up displays and exhibits,” Brandy Hawkins, whose daughter participated in the program, told the San Angelo Standard-Times.

Hanover Amazing Kids Club Holds Art Showcase (Evening Sun, Pennsylvania)

More than 200 children and adolescents on the autism spectrum worked on art projects this summer to enhance their imagination, fine motor skills and communication at the Amazing Kids Club. Clinical coordinator Bruce Swiger told the Evening Sun that art can be highly beneficial for autistic children’s development: “It’s not the answer to everything, but it’s a piece of the puzzle to work on integration.” The program ran for 11 weeks, giving students a chance to work on a wide range of art projects, from self-portraits to pottery to 3-D art displays. Amazing Kids Club concluded with an art show to show off the students’ work to friends and family last week.  

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learn more about: Science State Policy Summer Learning Arts
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 grouping 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.
AUG
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
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How an afterschool program recruited a US Senator as a powerful ally

By Robert Abare

LA’s BEST has long been creating Better Educated Students for Tomorrow—since its founding in 1988, the program has grown to serve over 25,000 kids at 193 elementary schools across Los Angeles, particularly in neighborhoods vulnerable to gangs, drugs and crime. US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has been an ally of the program for almost just as long, dating back to her first site visit to LA’s BEST in 1992.

Hosting Boxer at a site visit was a critical way for LA’s BEST to establish a relationship with the Senator, who then boosted the profile of the program locally and nationally while securing funding for programs across the nation. Most recently, Boxer helped accomplish this goal by working to preserve and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Boxer, who is retiring after her term ends in 2016, recently capped off her championing of LA’s BEST and afterschool in general by visiting the program for a final site visit earlier this month. During the course of her visit, she interacted with kids as they showed off the many opportunities offered by the program, including digital learning and coding lessons, a dance performance and learning math through Legos.

Boxer held a press conference following the visit, where she took questions from both the media and youth who participate in LA’s BEST. Boxer described how her experiences with LA’s BEST inspired her to become a national champion of afterschool.

“…when I saw [LA’s BEST], I knew I had to take it nationwide. And we did it together,” she said. “We created that national program, which serves more than a million kids every single day and it’s because of LA’s BEST…”

Gurna elaborated on how the partnership between LA’s BEST and Senator Boxer not only benefitted LA’s BEST, but afterschool across the USA. “The relationship with Senator Boxer is ideal because it developed from her being inspired by our program to her becoming a national advocate for afterschool.”

“This is a great example of how elected officials need to have a personal experience with a program to see what they are accomplishing,” Gurna explained. “Officials need to see how afterschool provides critical experiences that expand learning and horizons, and see how afterschool opportunities are not that different from what they want their own kids to experience.”

“Our more than 25 year relationship with Senator Boxer is testament to the fact that we have to get officials out there meeting kids, staff and seeing the power of afterschool with their own eyes.”

Gurna added, “Elected officials just need an access point—and any high quality afterschool program can fill that role.”

AUG
25
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Announcing the winner of the national Lights On Afterschool poster contest!

By Robert Abare

After reviewing hundreds of submissions from afterschool artists from across the country (and the world!), the Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool poster contest: Baldwin County High School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program in Bay Minette, Alabama!

The winning artwork will be printed on 50,000 posters and sent to all registered Lights On Afterschool events to help spread the word about the celebration. Register your event today to receive ten free posters!

About the artists

The winning poster was designed by program participants Maia Austin (17), Gabby Williams (17), and Marquez Drinkard (16). The artists were particularly inspired by the many arts activities offered by their afterschool program, including dance teams, visual art projects and cooking classes. The finished product was truly a team effort, as the poster is comprised of many separate drawings that were cut out and then pasted together.

“We talked about our favorite aspects of our program, and then we decided what we wanted the poster to look like, and who would draw each part.” explained Marquez. “As you can see, we wanted it to be very colorful as well.”

Marquez, who is still figuring out his plans for after high school, is considering a career in nursing, along with fellow artist Maia Austin. Gabby Williams, on the other hand, plans to serve in the United States Air Force.

About the program

Gabby expressed her gratitude for the opportunities offered by Baldwin County High School’s 21st CCLC program. “I love the program because it’s something productive I can do after school,” she said. “I really like the cooking classes, and being with my friends at the same time.”

She added, “My parents think the program is great, because it keeps me busy when I could be doing things that kids aren’t supposed to do.”

The Baldwin County High School 21st CCLC program serves approximately 40 students 4 days per week, and offers a range of activities that include tutoring, arts enrichment, archery, college and career exploration, and robotics.

Michele Hall, director of the program, explained how the program has provided a valuable service for her community’s kids after school. “As a teacher at the high school, I saw that we had a large number of students who were not involved after school and didn’t have opportunities, partly due to our rural location,” she explained. “Now, the program is helping these kids grow academically and socially.”

About the contest

This year, the Lights On Afterschool poster contest received over 400 submissions from 21 states—and from a U.S. military base in Japan! The poster was selected in a vote by Afterschool Alliance staff in Washington, D.C.

The winning artists’ program will receive a case of syrups, courtesy of Torani, for a shaved ice or soda party. Visit the redesigned Lights On Afterschool website to search for event ideas, learn strategies to engage the media and download graphics and artwork to make your event shine.

And don’t forget to register your event to get 10 copies of the 2016 Lights On Afterschool in your program’s mailbox!

AUG
24
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 24, 2016

By Luci Manning

4-H Brings Science, Technology to Somali Youth (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota)

A 4-H program in Minneapolis is teaching Somali youth about the scientific process and trying to encourage an interest in scientific fields among students who recently moved to the United States. About 30 students in the afterschool program recently ventured to City Hall to show council members the science projects they worked on during the school year, including an LED light board and a pulley-based miniature ski lift. “It broadens the horizons of our youth,” Council Member Abdi Warsame told the Star Tribune. “Math and science and engineering are the keys to the future.”

D.C. District Aims to Send All Students Abroad (Education Week, District of Columbia)

The District of Columbia has an ambitious plan to stem the “enrichment gap” many low-income students experience: to send every DC public school student on two study-abroad trips before they graduate, completely free of cost. This summer, 400 8th and 11th grade students went on fully paid international trips to countries like China, France and Nicaragua. “Many of our wealthy kids would have international experiences whether we provide them or not,” chancellor Kaya Henderson told Education Week. “But so many of our kids would never have this experience if we didn’t provide it.” The program not only covers all travel, lodging and chaperone costs, but even provides a minimum-wage stipend to families who rely on their teen’s income from a summer job.

Summer Camp Teaches TV Basics (Port Huron Times Herald, Michigan)

Sixteen teens from Port Huron Schools explored the intricacies of television production at a free week-long camp this summer. The eighth- through 11th-grade students learned about project planning, storytelling, camera and audio work, post-production editing and on-camera presenting using professional-level equipment from EBW.tv. “We wanted to train students who were interested in production,” PHS director of community relations Keely Baribeau told the Times Herald. “That’s what this is really all about – getting some career skills into the hands of these students.” Baribeau hopes the camp motivates students to join a similar afterschool program this year.

Las Vegas’ Sawyer Middle School Theater Students to Perform New York-Based Play “War at Home” (Southwest View, Nevada)

Several middle school students spent their summer working hard on their improvisation, production and performance skills at the Sawyer Summer Stage program, the Southwest View reports. The summer program will culminate with performances of “War at Home,” a 9/11 memorial play compiled from journal entries written by New York State high school students in the wake of the terror attacks. Several Sawyer students will also contribute their own essays about the way 9/11 changed the world and the lessons our country can learn from the aftermath. 

AUG
23
2016

RESEARCH
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New video makes the case for data sharing partnerships

By Nikki Yamashiro

If you have ever wondered what a successful data sharing partnership looks like, or wished that there was a resource available to help you make the case for data partnerships in afterschool, look no further. A new video released by the National League of Cities—in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) and the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA)—showcases the power of data in afterschool programming. This three-minute video, made possible with support from The Wallace Foundation, takes a look at the city of Nashville, TN and highlights the successful data sharing partnership between Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and NAZA, a network of high-quality afterschool programming serving the city’s middle school students.

Adam Yockey, Northeast Zone Director of NAZA, summarizes the value of data sharing partnerships, stating, “I believe that the afterschool providers want to be seen as a partner and a support for what is going on in the school day. If you only get data at the end of the school year, you’ve lost an entire year that you could have been working intentionally with that student. It helps the afterschool providers focus more on what the students actually need instead of just a program that they offer.”

This video is a great example of why partnerships like the one in Nashville are so critical if we are serious about making sure that all students have the supports in place both in and out of school that will set them up for success. If you are interested in learning more about what steps can be taken to promote data sharing among partners, you can take a look at a blog I wrote earlier this summer on four policy priorities released by the DQC outlining how district leaders can take the initiative to make data work for students. 

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learn more about: Evaluations School Improvement
AUG
22
2016

IN THE FIELD
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HEPA provides Santa Clara YMCA with sense of commitment, common language

By Robert Abare

Written by Matt Freeman

Kids enjoyed reading a book with Andrew Tarbell of the San Jose Earthquakes during a YMCA of Silicon Valley summer meal program event. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Silicon Valley on Facebook.

For Mary Hoshiko Haughey of the YMCA of the Silicon Valley in Santa Clara, California, the push toward healthy eating and physical fitness has been underway for a very long time. “We were working on this long before the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards were developed,” she says, “so once the YMCA-USA signed on to the standards, we were early adopters.”

Haughey is Senior Vice President for Operations for the local YMCA, and her pre-HEPA work brought the Y and its afterschool programs into partnerships at the federal, state and local levels. Working with a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, they worked to combat diabetes in the Latino community. Two Carol M. White Physical Education Program grants helped equip afterschool programs and train staff in evidence-based curriculum. In addition, the Y was a demonstration site for the California Healthy Behaviors Initiative, a joint effort between the state Department of Public Health and the nonprofit Center for Collaborative Solutions.

That effort paved the way for a partnership with the Santa Clara county health department in which the Y’s afterschool programs were a vehicle for an effort to increase youth physical activity and encourage healthy eating. The county produced a resource guidebook, Fit for Learning, aimed at fully integrating healthy eating and physical activity into school lesson-planning, and the Y produced a corollary for afterschool programs, Fit for Afterschool. Both guides have since been integrated into one resource.

When HEPA standards came along, the local Y of Silicon Valley was quick to embrace them, and the standards are now in place in all of its 108 afterschool and early learning sites, as well as its summer learning and camping programs. In addition, the Ys employ the SPARK curriculum, a research-based physical education program, as well as several nutrition education curricula from various public health partners.

Each of the sites offers daily physical activity for children, providing opportunities for the moderate to vigorous exercise called for under HEPA. “We’ve also restricted screen time,” Haughey says. “Now if there’s a screen on, it’s because a child is doing homework or some activity specifically targeted at academic enrichment. They’re not watching a movie!”

“We’d made a lot of headway on healthy eating and physical activity before HEPA, but the standards still helped us in important ways,” Haughey added. “HEPA gave us a sense of commitment to a shared effective practice, and a common language to talk about it with our colleagues locally and across the nation. When I get together with colleagues from Tennessee, we can talk about the challenges and successes.”

Overcoming obstacles to build a healthier community

The effort continues to face some important challenges, and Haughey says the Y has learned a lot along the way. “One thing that becomes clear when you really start working with communities living in poverty,” she says, “is that you can’t just tell people, ‘go eat healthy food and be active.’ There are food deserts that make it hard for people to find fruits and vegetables. And the built environment in their communities isn’t safe. So we’ve really dug into it with our community, challenging ourselves to think about how we make it doable for families living in poverty.”

One other aspect of HEPA that Haughey particularly appreciates is that it’s a vehicle for feedback and engagement with parents. “We let our parents know about HEPA,” she says, “and they help hold us accountable. We’re not perfect, and sometimes staff get a little ‘creative,’ and then I get phone calls from parents. I’m glad to hear from them, and it’s helped create a broader awareness among our parents and families. It’s good to be accountable to them.”