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MAY
25
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 25, 2016

By Luci Manning

To Bridge the Gap (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas)

Joyce Willis, educational programs manager for the Clinton Foundation, makes the case for summer learning programs in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “Summer learning loss, also known as the ‘summer slide,’ affects nearly every student in the country…. This education loss is even more severe for students from low-income families who fall nearly three months behind in the summer…. That’s why it’s important for communities to come together and create opportunities for our students—all our students—to have access to quality educational and literacy programs.”

Organizers: Program for Inner-City Kids is Difference Between Life and Death (WHO, Iowa)

A ten-week summer program is attempting to transform Des Moines’ poorest neighborhoods into safe places for kids. “Doing More in the Core” is providing grants to non-profits and community organizations that offer activities for young people from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the summer, a time when police say youths are most likely to get into trouble. “Everybody’s home situation isn’t the best,” Oakridge Neighborhood site coordinator Stephen Williams told WHO. “Giving them an opportunity or a place to go or services that they can benefit from or learn from may help save a life.”

“There’s a Lot of Devastation,” After-School Programs Brace for Budget Cuts (KFOR, Oklahoma)

Oklahoma City Public Schools’ looming budget cuts will start affecting students this week as summer programs try to handle the cutbacks. Struggling students will lose out on tutoring, fun activities and meals thanks to the $30 million in planned reductions. “So, the kids will be home alone, a lot of them or out getting in trouble,” Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Jane Sutter told KFOR. “It’s a very economically challenged area of our community. There are not a lot of options for those kids. So, not only will they not get a nutritious meal probably during the day, they won’t have positive activities to help them grow and learn…  It is really time for our state leadership, our community leadership, everybody to make kids come first.”

Shaking up Fitness (Austin American-Statesman, Texas)

Middle school students throughout Austin are learning that biking and running are more than just ways to stay fit – they’re a way to build confidence, make friends and, most importantly, have fun. Boneshaker Project runs youth exercise programs at recreation centers and schools throughout the city, fulfilling its mission to foster a lifestyle of activity and movement. The nonprofit targets middle school kids, according to founder Todd Reed, because it’s an underserved age group when it comes to these sorts of programs. “We all realize there are more resources available to elementary kids than middle school kids,” he told the Austin American-Statesman. “There’s a gap there, at a time when kids are very impressionable.”

MAY
23
2016

FUNDING
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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Connecting donors to your mission

By Ed Spitzberg

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the second installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a new blog series by Ed Spitzberg, Vice President of Development at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs. 

So now that you’ve leveraged the resources you have (see last month’s post), let’s talk about how to link donors to your organization.

What’s the best way to connect donors to your organization?  Well, personal relationships are important, sure. But you want long-term gifts… gifts that are tied to the organization, not any one individual. You want donors to have a relationship with the organization.

And what makes a relationship between a donor and your organization? Many things of course, but most important (and most obvious if you’ve peeked at the title of this post) is connection to your organization's mission.

So, how do you make this connection?

  • Stories about impact – Share with donors about specific kids (without identifying information, of course) who have benefited from your program. How did they participate in your program? What changes did they have in their lives after participating in your program?
  • Chance to observe program – Even better than stories: have them see your work, meet your kids and understand firsthand the impact you make.
  • Chance to participate in program – And even better than observing is participating. They can volunteer to be a mentor, serve on the board or enroll their own children. 
  • Persistently friendly communication – Make sure they know the work you do throughout the year. Call, send e-mails, etc. Persistence is good. Annoyance isn’t, so make sure you have a good feel as to where to draw the line.
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learn more about: Sustainability Community Partners
MAY
20
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Ensure your organization complies with new labor rules

By Irina Zabello

Last Wednesday, May 18, the Labor Department issued a new final rule that may have implications for your program and program staff. The Afterschool Alliance will be sharing links to the latest webinars, briefings and guidelines for the new ruling as they appear. Whether or not your organization is subject to these changes will depend on your state laws.

What are the changes?

New overtime rule

The Department of Labor has announced a final rule that will substantially increase the minimum salary requirement for certain employees to be considered exempt from overtime. The new rule takes effect December 1, 2016, and is expected to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more workers. To comply, employers may either need to raise exempt employees' salaries or reclassify affected employees as non-exempt and pay overtime when applicable.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires virtually all employers to pay most employees at least the federal minimum wage for each hour worked, as well as overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA allows for exemptions from these overtime and minimum wage requirements for certain "exempt" employees. To be considered exempt, these employees must generally satisfy specific salary and duties requirements:

  • Meet the minimum salary requirement;
  • With very limited exceptions, the employer must pay the employee their full salary in any week they perform work, regardless of the quality or quantity of the work; and
  • The employee's primary duties must meet certain criteria.
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learn more about: Sustainability
MAY
17
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Innovation Zone

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. Click here to view the previous installment. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For Levi Myers, a 16-year-old 10th grader at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV, life revolves around music. He’s started bands with his friends—playing everything from punk to reggae—and he has a dream of becoming a professional music critic one day.

Levi didn’t initially think that his high school’s afterschool program, SPARC (which stands for Spartans Collective), could help him further explore his love for music. “When I first heard about the program, I thought it would be sitting around and staring at books,” he said.

One of the guitars designed by students in the Innovation Zone afterschool program.

Instead, through SPARC’s classes in guitar building, Levi found his initial assumption was far from accurate. “The guitar classes were really fun,” he said. “They also taught me about the inside mechanics of guitars, soldering, circuitry and how to get stuff done on time.”

The SPARC program is part of a larger afterschool program of Greenbrier County Public Schools, funded by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Innovation Zone program. The afterschool program, which operates at two middle school and one high school, has two focuses: academic achievement and entrepreneurship. The Innovation Zone afterschool program is in the process of seeking additional support from the federal government’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative.

The Innovation Zone program supports students’ academic achievement through tutoring, ACT and SAT preparation, and credit recovery for struggling students. Last year, 37 students successfully graduated thanks to the credit recovery and failure prevention aspects of the program.

Vicky Cline, Director of Technology and Testing for Greenbrier County Schools and a leader of the program, explained that the programs’ entrepreneurial focus allows students to discover practical ways to apply the lessons they learn in school. “The goal is for students to gain business and interpersonal skills that they can use later in life,” she said. “We want our participants to realize that they can become major contributors to West Virginia’s economy, and that they can help our community become more self-sufficient.”

MAY
3
2016

IN THE FIELD
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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.

APR
12
2016

FUNDING
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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: A new blog series

By Ed Spitzberg

Science Club, an afterschool partnership between Northwestern University and the Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club, receives a major funding boost as the winner of our 2013 STEM Impact Award.

As Vice President of Development here at the Afterschool Alliance, my role is to raise funds for our organization, so that we have the capacity to do our work as the primary voice for afterschool programs across the country. But prior to my current role, I was the Executive Director of an afterschool arts program here in Washington, D.C., and as such I know how important—and how difficult—it is to make sure an afterschool program has the support it needs to make an impact on the kids it serves every afternoon.

Ed Spitzberg is the Vice President of Development at the Afterschool Alliance

To that end, this post is the first in a series we’ll do all year to highlight important issues in fundraising, giving you tips and strategies that we hope will be helpful for you and your organizations. Throughout the year, we’ll cover different types of donors (corporate, foundation, and individual), different parts of the fundraising cycle (research, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship) and important strategies and tactics (from connecting fundraising to your mission to crafting an end-of-year appeal).

We’ll start the series in this post with a statement that most of you know either explicitly or intuitively, but deserves its spot below in big bold letters:

Leverage the resources and community you have.

Let's break that seemingly simple statement down a bit:

  1. You have a great community that already loves what you do:  Parents. Teachers. Community leaders. Board members. Existing donors. Most of these people are eager to support your program in any way possible.
  2. You have a great program, with great stories. Show and collect the stories of your program through publications, emails, social media or tours. 
  3. Have the community that loves your program introduce THEIR networks to your program and great stories you have to show.

In practice, this final point can mean asking existing donors to invite their friends for a tour, where you show them your program (or even better, a kid shows them your program) so they can see firsthand what you do. It may mean giving board members an e-mail appeal template that has a story and a photo from your program to share with their friends. It could also mean inviting local officials or personalities with large audiences to participate in a Lights On Afterschool event or year end celebration as an emcee, so they can than amplify the message of what you do.

Fundraising is primarily about building a connection to your program, and to do that you need to have a clear central story, and a natural avenue for individuals to connect to your mission. Develop them both, and use them both.

There's more to come about creating this central story for your program and connecting people to your program's mission in the next blog. But for now, look at what you already have, and determine how that can help you increase capacity for the great work you’re already doing.

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learn more about: Sustainability Community Partners
FEB
3
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 3, 2016

By Luci Manning

Students Get Young Peers Excited About Science Through Outreach Programs (Wesleyan Argus, Connecticut)

Middletown elementary students are gazing through telescopes, designing galaxies and making crystals thanks to two programs run by the Wesleyan University astronomy department that aim to make science fun for young students. Wesleyan students write lesson plans and run the afterschool Kids Korner at five elementary schools in the area, expanding children’s interest in science. “The most rewarding part about being involved with the program is watching the elementary school kids’ faces light up when they learn something new,” club co-coordinator Madeleine Junkins told the Wesleyan Argus.

Raytheon Helps Afterschool Club Members Discover Physics of Fun at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Arena (Frisco Enterprise, Texas)

Three hundred Boys & Girls Club members recently learned how math and physics affect the basketball skills of their favorite professional players. Employees from defense contractor Raytheon used basketballs to demonstrate different science lessons to students and let them show off their physical prowess. They discussed how air pressure affects the buoyancy of a basketball, compared their heights and wingspans with those of several Dallas Mavericks players and tested their leaping abilities. Raytheon hoped the event would show students how important science is to everyday life. “Music, sports – there’s math and science in everything you love to do,” senior community relations manager Kim Parks told the Frisco Enterprise. Raytheon’s eight North Texas locations have supported area Boys & Girls Clubs with Engineering Week events and other volunteer activities.

Lessons in Learning: Aloha Angels Funds Almost 50 After-School Programs Districtwide (Garden Island, Hawaii)

Several years ago, Koloa Elementary Schools stopped receiving government funding for afterschool programs. Thanks to Aloha Angels, this year they were able to offer 15 programs, including ukulele band, art and cooking. Aloha Angels, a nonprofit that raises funds to support teachers and students, turned its attention to afterschool a few years ago and has since raised $334,000 to help fund programs throughout the school district. “The organization started funding afterschool programs in 2014 after Sherry Gonsalves, principal at Kilauea Elementary School, emphasized the importance of needing an outlet for students to learn subjects like art, music and sports, which are not taught during the school day, said Ric Cox, president of Aloha Angles,” the Garden Island reports. Now six different schools offer at least five programs, each emphasizing the mentoring relationships between teachers and students.

Afterschool Program at Centennial Farm Earns an Award (Los Angeles Times, California)

The California Park and Recreation Society recently recognized the Ranch Afterschool Program, an initiative of Costa Mesa’s Parks and Community Services Department that provides students with hands-on farming experience. According to the Los Angeles Times, the program teaches students agricultural techniques and how to care for farm animals, even maintaining a portion of the farm’s land. “Agricultural education helps children learn about healthy food choices and teaches them different ways to access fresh fruits and vegetables,” city spokesman Tony Dodero said. “Most importantly, students begin to understand the deep impact agriculture has in their lives: past, future and present.” 

DEC
22
2015

RESEARCH
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How to use data to build an afterschool system

By Robert Abare

Earlier, we discussed the growing prevalence and importance of afterschool systems, or city-wide networks of program providers, government agencies, and like-minded organizations that unite to offer high-quality afterschool experiences to children. To ensure they are adequately fulfilling the needs of their communities, afterschool systems depend on collecting and interpreting data from surveys, records, and other sources. Data can help an afterschool program know whether to focus on reading or science, or reveal what areas of a city are most lacking in afterschool offerings. A report released by The Wallace Foundation, Growing Together, Learning Together: What Cities Have Discovered About Building Afterschool Systemshelps de-mystify this complex yet essential topic.

Before launching any specific plans to collect data, it's important to consider what questions most need to be answered, and what goals your afterschool system or community wishes to achieve. The Wallace report includes four preliminary questions to answer before attempting to collect data to improve program quality:

1. What types of data will drive the improvement we're seeking?

If you're attempting to understand community satisfaction with afterschool programming, will you analyze particiapnt attendance records or parent feedback? Or both? These are the types of questions that must be answered to ensure your efforts to gather data and apply it are effective.

2. When and how quickly do our data need to be analyzed and conveyed to providers in order for them to get the most use out of it?

Some data are more time-senstitive than others. For example, a program provider may want to know about issues with an individual child's attendance record ASAP, while attendance data on a city-wide scale is less urgent and can't be collected quickly.

3. Should our program providers assess themselves or be assessed by outside observers?

While some cities rely solely on self assessement to sustain afterschool quality, the general consesus is that the fresh perspective offered by external observations is highly valuable and leads to meaningful improvements.

4. How can we make the data we collect meaningful?

Data can be made meaningful through comparison:  by comparing programs to others in the same neighborhood, or by comparing entire afterschool systems across cities to see what practices are leading to the most positive outcomes. 

You can learn more about how afterschool systems use data, including how establishing a management information system (MIS) can lead to a constant stream of data collection and distribution, by reading the entire Wallace report. The report also explores other vital elements of afterschool systems, like leadership piplelines and coordination efforts, to offer a complete picture of the future of afterschool.

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learn more about: School Improvement Sustainability