RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Get Afterschool Updates
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.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Blogs We Read Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Recent Afterschool Snacks
MAY
3
2016

CHALLENGE
email
print

Top ten reasons to take the Virtual Challenge this month

By Robert Abare

Nebraska State Senator David Schnoor visits the Linden Leopards Afterschool Program

As you might have heard, afterschool advocates from across the country are flocking to Washington, D.C. on May 23 to participate in the Afterschool for All Challenge, when they’ll be sharing powerful stories to boost support for afterschool among national legislators. Throughout May, we’re encouraging everyone to get involved closer to home via the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge.

Here are the top ten reasons to participate!

  1. Gain powerful allies for your program. Hosting a site visit with a local official or leader is a great way to cultivate an influential relationship with someone who may be able to pave the way for new sources of funding or more favorable local policies.
  2. Reveal your program’s worth. Hosting a site visit is also great way to show off the accomplishments of your program—from teaching kids new skills to keeping them safe and out of trouble.  Local leaders will remember the demonstrated value of your program when making important decisions in the future!
  3. Get the media talking about your program. If the local press agrees to attend and cover your site visit by a local leader, their coverage will help broadcast to your community what your program does every day and how it helps kids and working families. Seeing a local official in attendance will show readers or viewers that leaders value your program’s importance, too.
  4. Get your program published. Hosting a site visit that gets media coverage helps elevate out-of-school time as an issue in the minds of voters and candidates, which can build a critical foundation for making out-of-school time programs an election issue this November. If you’re not hosting a site visit, you can also grab the public’s attention by writing a letter to the editor or publishing a blog post.
  5. Make noise on social media. You can get people talking about your program on social media through a number of ways. Check out our helpful social media kit, or join our Thunderclap before May 23rd to help send a synchronized blast of messages in support of afterschool.
  6. Gather new followers. By making an effective push on Twitter, Facebook or other platforms for the Virtual Challenge, your program can gain new followers, who in turn will stay up-to-date on your program’s events, news and needs.
  7. Ensure funding for afterschool. By hosting a local site visit for the Virtual Challenge, you help the Afterschool Alliance demonstrate broad public support for afterschool and summer learning programs, and make the case for robust federal funding for these programs. You can get involved today by writing messages to your representatives through our action center.
  8. Teach kids important lessons. Hosting a site visit—or getting involved in afterschool advocacy in general—can be a great way for kids to learn about our nation’s government, elections and legislative process. Show them why it matters to get involved!
  9. Set the stage for future visits. After you host a successful site visit, first pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Then be sure to send your local leader a thank you note, and he or she—or even their successor—may keep your program in mind when planning events or site visits in the future!
  10. Have fun! Participating in the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge is a great way to celebrate the learning and enrichment that occurs in out-of-school time programs. No matter how you decide to participate, have fun and encourage others to share your appreciation for afterschool! 
share this link: http://bit.ly/23n33jJ
learn more about: Advocacy Congress Events and Briefings
MAY
3
2016

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Thanks for helping us celebrate environmental education last month!

By Erin Murphy

This video developed by Beyond School Bells, Nebraska's Statewide Afterschool Network, explains the importance of environmental education, and why afterschool programs should be a part of this mission.

The Afterschool Alliance spent the month of April exploring, promoting and celebrating environmental education (EE) in afterschool. We’ve learned a lot about the current state of EE in afterschool and how programs can overcome challenges to implement high-quality environmental education. We hope you’ve learned a lot, too—check out the resources below to keep the afterschool EE movement going in the months and years to come.

Earth Day tweetchat

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, we hosted a tweetchat exploring the importance of environmental education, its current state in afterschool, and how programs and individuals can support this mission.

Missed the conversation? Check out our Storify recap to learn about the goals and benefits of environmental education, and what resources and best practices to use when developing or improving your program.

This event couldn’t have been a success without our partners’ support and participation: National Environmental Education FoundationNational AfterSchool AssociationNational Recreation and Park AssociationClick2Science, Boost CollaborativeWGBH’s Plum LandingEarth ForceSave the BayScience Action ClubZooCrew, and National Summer Learning Association.

MAY
2
2016

POLICY
email
print

Preparing tomorrow's workforce for college and careers is everyone's business

By Jillian Luchner

In earlier times, most employers bore the sole responsibility for hiring and training their staff. As the economy became more complex, governments started to realized that schools could help support workforce development by preparing students for in-demand careers in the local economy. Today, afterschool programs, museums, libraries and other community based providers are providing critical support in preparing the workforce of tomorrow.

Out of school time programs like Afterschool All Stars' CEO, Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE), and Afterschool Matters are introducing students to careers, developing employability skills, and providing spaces to innovate and practice the entrepreneurial skills employers demand. From organizing apprenticeships to giving students the resources to design robots, software and health devices, to providing career visits and guest speakers, these programs can play an essential part in preparing students for careers.

This year, Congress is considering reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins CTE). The law, now 10 year old, provides funding for school districts to establish career pathways that coordinate school training with the needs of the local economy.

However, the current law does not explicitly mention community based providers as a valuable partner in preparing students. The update, which is now being considered, should. School makes up only about 20 percent of a student’s waking hours each year, and the opportunities to explore careers and develop skill sets extend far beyond the experiences of the school day.

The Afterschool Alliance has submitted recommendations on how the Perkins CTE law can be updated to expand opportunities for students, communities and employers. Congressional staff suggest the Senate draft CTE bill, led by a bipartisan effort of Senators Enzi and Casey, is in its final stages and will be released soon. In the House, majority staff are preparing for the bill led by Education and the Workforce committee chair Representative Kline to reach the floor by July, which means getting the draft, bill and markup completed by that time.

Preparing our students for the careers of the future is a big task, and it will require a broad spectrum of partners. The CTE bill, which has a possibility of passing this year, can help set the stage for greater collaboration.

APR
28
2016

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Let's put afterschool front and center this election year!

By Jillian Luchner

You've probably noticed—it's an election year! And, it’s a big election year at that! Not only is the presidency up for grabs, but all 435 House of Representative seats and 34 of 100 Senate seats will be decided this November, and that’s just at the national level! For advocates of afterschool and summer programming, now is a great time to get our future decision makers thinking about important issues.

We know that afterschool and summer programs help keep youth safe and engaged, support working families, prepare the future workforce, and improve student well-being. Now, we need to make sure our candidates also understand the value of afterschool programs and, once they become elected officials, the importance of supporting afterschool. We’ve prepared the following resources to help you turn afterschool into an election issue this year.

  1. The Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit: A comprehensive guide to afterschool advocacy during an election year, including how to mobilize support, sample talking points and outreach materials, social media support, the do’s and don’ts for non-profit organizations, links to helpful resources, and more.
  2. The Candidate Resource Guide on Afterschool: This guide is designed to be given to any candidate for office, and is filled with information they need to see afterschool as an essential piece of their platform that provides solid returns on investment. The guide is separated into 6 main sections showcasing research and polling data on ways afterschool complements and strengthens work being done to support working families, build safe communities, advance academic achievement, promote STEM learning and career readiness, encourage health and wellness, and close opportunity gaps. Please read and distribute broadly. Remember to provide a copy to all candidates for particular office. Afterschool, after all, receives frequent and broad bi-partisan support.

Other resources to check out:

share this link: http://bit.ly/1N3Pd3R
learn more about: Advocacy Election
APR
28
2016

POLICY
email
print

New nutrition standards for afterschool programs released

By Erik Peterson

 
USDA photo by Lance Cheung

On April 22nd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon announced strengthened nutrition standards for food and beverages served to children in afterschool programs and day care settings at the annual conference of the National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors Association.

School age children in participating afterschool programs, as well as young children in child care settings and adults in senior care, will now receive meals with more whole grains, a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, and less added sugars and solid fats. The science-based standards introduced in this final rule will elevate the nutritional quality of meals and snacks provided under the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) to better align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and to be consistent with the meals children receive as part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The At-Risk Afterschool Meals program, which provides meals to more than one million children each afternoon, falls under the CACFP guidelines.

In addition to afterschool programs, CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the growth and development of children and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons. Through the CACFP, over 4 million children and nearly 120,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of the care they receive.

This is the first major revision of the CACFP meal patterns since the program's inception in 1968, and will require meals and snacks provided through the CACFP to better reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the nutritional issues facing young children and adults today. These changes are a meaningful first step in improving CACFP participants’ access to nutritious foods. The updated meal patterns also better align with the National Afterschool Association Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards, which foster health and well-being practices in afterschool programs nationwide through science-based standards for healthy eating, physical activity and screen time.

The new standards were carefully designed to make significant, achievable and cost-neutral improvements to the nutritional quality of the meals and snacks served through CACFP. USDA focused on incremental changes that balance the science behind the nutritional needs of the diverse CACFP participants and the practical abilities of participating afterschool program providers, child care centers and day care homes to implement these changes. By setting an implementation date of October 1, 2017, the final rule provides ample lead time for centers and day care homes to learn and understand the new meal pattern standards before they are required to be in full compliance.

USDA will provide in-person and online trainings and is developing new resources and training materials, such as menu planning tools, new and updated recipes, and tip sheets, to ensure successful implementation of the new nutrition standards. Additionally, the Afterschool Alliance plans to hold webinars for afterschool program providers participating in the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals program who will be impacted by the new meal pattern requirements.

Additionally, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) will host a webinar "New Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What you need to know" on May 9, 2016 at 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM EDT. Click here to register.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1STrrcW
learn more about: Nutrition
APR
27
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

Weekly Media Roundup: April 27, 2016

By Luci Manning

Getting Their Hands Dirty (Quad-City Times, Iowa)

Students at Frances Willard Elementary School, Rock Island will get to enjoy squash, corn, green beans, strawberries and rhubarb this fall thanks to the work of 16 kids in the school’s afterschool program. The garden project is run by three local AmeriCorps workers as part of a collection of educational programs they provide to the community through the Nahant Marsh environmental education center. “The project usually involves the kids getting more connected to the outdoors and fostering stewardship of our natural world,” AmeriCorps worker Grace Griffin told the Quad-City Times. The students will tend the garden throughout the summer then harvest the produce this fall.

After School Is ‘Sweet Spot’ to Draw Girls to STEM (Youth Today)

High school sophomores Mandy Lee, Joan Monti and Xiu Ti Wang first began to identify themselves as scientists when they collected DNA from strawberries, visited the American Museum of Natural History and examined rocks as part of Girl Scout Troop 3106. Their Scout leader Maryann Stimmer sees the Girl Scouts and other afterschool programs as the key to unlocking the scientific potential of girls. Rather than focusing on student performance like regular-day teachers, afterschool staff can focus on identity, which is a bigger predictor of whether students will go into science and math fields, according to Stimmer. “After school is the sweet spot for STEM,” she told Youth Today.

State Grant to Help Bellingham Students Learn with Nature (Bellingham Herald, Washington)

Earlier this week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee joined a group of students from Northern Heights Elementary School as they explored the forest near their school, catching garter snakes and playing hide and seek behind trees and bushes. The outing, part of Wild Whatcom’s afterschool program, followed Inslee’s announcement that the nonprofit will receive a $20,000 No Child Left Inside grant from the state’s Parks and Recreation Commission to expand its outdoor education programs. “The evidence shows—and there is good evidence of this—that small, little experiences like this really turns kids on to science, turns them on to nature, turns them on to what’s wild in our state,” Gov. Inslee told the Bellingham Herald.

Adams Youth Center Kids Give Back on Earth Day by Making Reusable Bags Packed with Food (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

The Adams Youth Center Inc.’s afterschool program did its share to help the environment this Earth Day by making 40 reusable bags through The BagShare Project, which produces eco-friendly bags made from recycled materials to encourage people to use fewer plastic bags. Volunteers at the Council of Aging also participated in the project, and together the two groups made over 100 reusable bags. “The bags are made by 6-year-olds, teens, tweens and elders, demonstrating that greening up/reusing is everyone’s responsibility,” The BagShare Project founder Leni Fried told the Berkshire Eagle. The bags were delivered with monthly food supplies for people in need across the area in honor of Earth Day. 

APR
27
2016

POLICY
email
print

Child nutrition reauthorization bill introduced in the House

By Erik Peterson

On April 20th, Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education introduced a House child nutrition reauthorization bill on behalf of the majority on the House Education and Workforce Committee. The bill would reauthorize the federal child nutrition programs including the Child and Adult Food Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool Meals program and the Summer Food Service Program; however, many of the proposed changes could result in children no longer being able to access the nutritious meals they need to learn and be healthy.

Among the general provisions in the bill of major concern:

  • Significantly weakening the community eligibility provision (CEP). Community eligibility is a federal option in its second year of nationwide implementation that reduces administrative work and increases school lunch and breakfast access in high-poverty schools. The bill proposes to substantially reduce the number of high-poverty schools that are eligible to implement community eligibility, which would impact approximately 7,000 of the 18,000 schools currently participating in the program. 11,000 additional schools not currently participating would lose the option to implement community eligibility in future years.
  • Increasing verification requirements. The bill dramatically increases school meal application verification requirements in ways that inevitably would cause eligible students to lose access to free or reduced-price school meals. Under the proposal, the number of household applications to be verified would increase significantly for many school districts, creating paperwork burdens for schools and families. A disproportionate number of vulnerable families, such as those who are homeless, migrant, immigrant or have limited English proficiency, would fall through the cracks in the process and lose access to school meals even though they are eligible.
  • Failing to address shortfalls in the summer food program (especially from an out-of-school time perspective). The streamlining provision in the bill does not allow nonprofit organizations and local government agencies (that are not schools) to operate the Summer Food Service Program year-round. Instead, sponsors receive the lower CACFP reimbursement rate and fewer sites are eligible in order to qualify for streamlining. Rather than making it easier for providers to offer meals seamlessly throughout the calendar year, the proposed provision would result in fewer programs offering meals to children in need due to the limited eligibility and lower reimbursement rate. 

In contrast, the Senate child nutrition reauthorization bill that passed the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year would instead streamline summer and afterschool meal coordination in a manner that would allow afterschool meal sites to choose to operate year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. This will allow sponsors to keep an adequate reimbursement rate, maintain eligibility, 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 has strongly recommended such a provision.

The House bill could be marked up by the House Education and the Workforce Committee in the coming weeks. You can voice your opinion on the bill to your representative via our action center

share this link: http://bit.ly/1Wq1Yas
learn more about: Congress Health and Wellness Nutrition
APR
26
2016

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Afterschool Spotlight: The LOVE Club

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this Afterschool Spotlight, part of a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For 12 years, Dr. A. Michael Shaw earned praise for his work as an educator and mentor in his hometown of New Orleans, even earning the honor of Teacher of the Year. After Hurricane Katrina’s devastating arrival in 2005, however, he made the difficult decision to make a new start in St. Louis. But while some things change, other stay the same—his commitment to helping disadvantaged youth remained strong.

“I realized that young people need help everywhere,” said Dr. Shaw. “They all face the same challenges, and they all need the confidence to believe in themselves.”

Dr. Shaw, who is currently Dean of Students at Jennings Junior High School in St. Louis, brought with him from New Orleans the concept for an afterschool program to show kids the world of possibilities one can achieve through education, hard work and self-confidence. The Lifting Our Valuable Esteem (LOVE) Club currently works toward this goal as a part of the Jennings School District’s “Stars and Heroes” afterschool program, which is funded by a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The Stars and Heroes program also offers a number of other opportunities for students after school, from golf to robotics.

The LOVE Club focuses on encouraging kids to think beyond their current circumstances and reach for new possibilities by introducing them to professional adults from various walks of life. Visitors to the LOVE Club have included attorneys, doctors, policemen, business leaders and restaurant owners, all of whom engaged in lively Q&A sessions with the participants.

“The speakers share with the kids what they do, what it takes to do what they do, and what students should focus on in school in order to get a job like theirs one day,” Dr. Shaw explained.