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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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JAN
21

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: FIU's After-School All-Stars program helps middle school students excel in school, life

By Rachel Clark

Natalia Sol is the Vice President of External Relations for After-School All-Stars, dedicated to supporting the South Florida chapter of the organization.

Pictured:  Left to Right: JJ Calvo (NY Life Hispanic Initiative), Natalia Sol (ASAS SF), Dean Delia Garcia (FIU, College of Education), Pat Mccraw and Tom Krach (NY Life, an ASAS National Partner), President Mark Rosenberg (FIU), and Ben Gilbert (ASAS SF, Board Chair)

For the parents of countless Miami-Dade middle school children living in at-risk communities, the end of the school day can be filled with worry.

Did my son make it home safe?  Is my daughter really doing her homework?  Are they getting enough exercise?

Erik Torres, however, isn’t worrying at all.  Instead, he’s dreaming about all the things his 13-year-old daughter Victoria could do with a college degree thanks to preparation for high school and college success she receives South Florida branch of the After-School All-Stars program (ASAS), which recently partnered with FIU’s College of Education.

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learn more about: Guest Blog
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JAN
20

STEM
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Guest blog: Student and families coding & making together

By Melissa Ballard

Ricarose Roque is a PhD candidate with the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab.  She leads the Family Creative Learning project, a program that engages whole families to learn together with creative technologies.  She is also a member of the MIT Scratch Team, which designs and develops the Scratch programming language and online community for kids.  Previously, she helped to coordinate the Project GUTS afterschool program in Chicago, IL and worked on other educational technology projects such as StarLogo TNG, a programming and simulation environment for kids. 

With our rapidly changing world, how can we engage our youth and our communities as creators and inventors to shape an increasingly digital society?  I believe that engaging whole families in creative learning experiences with technology can build a necessary network of support as youth participate and pursue their interests in an ever-changing landscape.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
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DEC
19

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Every Hour Counts, a report from Vermonts PreK-16 Council

By Erik Peterson

Dr. Holly Morehouse is the Executive Director of Vermont’s statewide afterschool network. Vermont Afterschool, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit that supports organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

 

 

For every $1 invested in quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont sees a return of $2.18 in long-term benefits and savings.

This is just one of many findings in a new report, Every Hour Counts: Vermont’s Students Succeed with Expanded Learning Opportunities, from Vermont’s Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time.

The Working Group formed last June as a subcommittee of Vermont’s PreK-16 Council upon direction from the state legislature to evaluate issues of equity and access in Vermont’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), including afterschool and summer learning programs. The group was charged with identifying:  key elements of quality ELOs; ways to increase access and remove barriers to ELOs across the state; and recommendations for how ELOs can support student success in Vermont.

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Caption: Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Executive Director Holly Morehouse (center in blue) presenting the Every Hour Counts report to Vermont’s PreK-16 Council.

Making the case for ELOs

With only six months to collect data, outline our findings and develop meaningful recommendations, time was short. It helped our work immensely to be able to draw on existing research and advocacy materials. Instead of trying to come up with separate quality standards, the Working Group adopted the Afterschool Alliance’s principles for effective ELOs. We also greatly benefited from the release of the America After 3PM report and data, and built off of the Afterschool Alliance’s talking points to emphasize that afterschool and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire learners and help working families.

Connecting to broader conversations in the state

The Working Group was sensitive to concerns over rising costs and increased pressures on Vermont’s education system. Instead of portraying ELOs as something added on top of these demands, we included a section highlighting how ELOs help schools and communities do what they’ve already been asked to do. In particular, the Working Group focused on how ELO programs support Vermont’s education vision by addressing the academic achievement gap and summer learning loss; supporting schools in meeting Vermont’s new Education Quality Standards; and providing opportunities in line with Vermont’s recent “Flexible Pathways” legislation.

Recommendations

Particularly exciting is the report’s recommendation to ensure that by 2020 children and youth in every Vermont community have access to quality Expanded Learning Opportunities. Getting buy-in around that statement is a big step forward for afterschool and summer learning in Vermont.

Even though we included data on how ELOs can save Vermont money over time, the Working Group decided not to include a specific financial request in the report. We wanted to avoid the cost debate that could have distracted from the message. The Working Group felt it was most important to get broad-based buy in behind the report and recommendations first. Now that the PreK-16 Council has approved, the report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Vermont House and Senate Education Committees in mid-January. In the following months, the network will develop a corresponding proposal about what it would take in funding and infrastructure to meet the goals presented in the recommendations (i.e., access in every Vermont community).

Thank you to our funders

Key to the success of the working group was analytical support that the network was able to provide through a Network Data Grant from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the C.S. Mott Foundation. The goal of this grant initiative is to help statewide networks collect relevant out-of-school time data and effectively share the data with state legislators and legislative staff, as well as other key state policy makers. 

 

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Caption: Students engaging in STEM activities at Winooski, VT’s 21st Century Community Learning Center summer learning program.

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DEC
18

STEM
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Guest blog: New insights for improving afterschool science

By Melissa Ballard

Dr. Ann House is a researcher and evaluator who works on projects that explore innovative schools, science and STEM education, and out-of-school learning settings. She is based at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, a nonprofit, independent research organization. Currently, Dr. House is leading the “Afterschool Science Networks Study” which explores the state of science offerings and the external sources of support for science in California’s public afterschool programs.

How can students keep learning science when the school day ends? Afterschool programs are a natural fit for hands-on science and the development of inquiry skills, like posing questions, designing scientific investigations, and creating explanations based on observations. Afterschool programs have the potential to boost students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To understand the support networks underlying current afterschool science offerings, SRI conducted a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the state of science learning opportunities in California’s After School and Education Safety (ASES) program.

 

 

 

 

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Policy Community Partners
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DEC
15

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Informing policy makers and the OST field on the opportunity gap

By Nikki Yamashiro

Sara Beanblossom is the director of communications and special events at the Indiana Afterschool Network, a nonprofit organization that inspires, empowers, and mobilizes the advocates, partners, and practitioners of afterschool and summer programs in Indiana.

AFTERSCHOOL AND SUMMER PROGRAMS CAN ADD 1,080 HOURS OF ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT TO A CHILD’S YEAR, EQUIVALENT TO THE NUMBER OF HOURS IN 144 SCHOOL DAYS. Yet, access is not equal. Low-income youth experience 6,000 fewer hours of enrichment and academic learning than their more affluent peers by the eighth grade (Hechinger Report, 2013).

Great piece of data, right?

The Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) thinks so, too. That is why we are communicating this point and other important data to Indiana program providers to help them voice the need for and the impact of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs to their policy makers and funders.

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Guest Blog State Networks State Policy
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NOV
12

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: The Cosmic Perspective: A Night with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

By Sarah Watson

Brent Cummings serves as the Program Director for the 21st CCLC initiative managed by Walla Walla, WA Public Schools (WWPS), and was recently selected as an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance.  He is one of just 13 local leaders from across the country to be chosen for the honor this year. The WWPS 21st CCLC program’s ongoing success rates, significantly higher than expected, reflect Brent's passion for educating at-risk youth in afterschool environments. The unique methodologies and curricula utilized in the WWPS 21st CCLC programs captivate all youth, whose intense engagement prepares them for future success.  A similar post by Brent was first published by School’s Out Washington.

Passionate! Charismatic! Humorous! Celebrity!!! Scientist?!? That’s right.  Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the “world’s sexiest astrophysicist” (as proclaimed by no lesser an authority than People magazine) wowed a packed Walla Walla, WA audience on Whitman College’s campus the nights of Sept. 11 and 12. 

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learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Events and Briefings Guest Blog NASA Science Youth Development
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NOV
10

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Inclusive Out-of-School Time

By Nikki Yamashiro

This blog post was originally published on the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability’s (NCHPAD) blog, which promotes information sharing around increased participation in physical activity among people of all abilities.  Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, executive director of the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN), is a contributing author to this blog post and works to raise the profile of the OST field in New York and strengthen OST programs across the state, including promoting the importance of inclusion of youth with disabilities in afterschool, expanded learning, and out-of-school time opportunities.  For additional information regarding afterschool programs providing an inclusive environment where students of all abilities can learn and grow side-by-side, read “Afterschool Supporting Students with Disabilities and Other Special Needs,” a joint issue brief by MetLife Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance.

The purpose of this article is to promote inclusion of youth with disabilities in after-school, expanded learning, and out-of-school time programs. For the purposes of this article, the term “include” and “inclusion” embodies the values, policies, and practices that support all youth, those both with and without disabilities, to participate in a broad range of out-of-school time activities.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Equity Guest Blog Issue Briefs State Networks
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NOV
6

STEM
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Guest Blog: Recycling Awareness--There's Work to Be Done!

By Sophie Papavizas

This blog post was contributed by Laura Batt, director of educational programs at JASON Learning, an exploration-based organization that links students to real science and scientists. Laura works in JASON's Immersion Learning division, which focuses on bringing the thrill of scientific discovery to students in Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, 21st Century Learning Centers, and other out-of-school settings.

These days more people than ever drop their used bottles, cans, and paper into recycling bins. The benefits of doing so are well-known: recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, and saves energy, to name a few. But despite the great progress toward making this kind of recycling commonplace, there's much more than we can do to give other types of products and materials a second life. To help get the word out, JASON Learning has partnered with industry leaders to create two contests that challenge youth to find creative ways to generate awareness about some other recycling efforts that are not so well-known.

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learn more about: Competition Guest Blog Science Academic Enrichment Youth Development Community Partners
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