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MAY
13
2016

RESEARCH
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Can the U.S. reach 90 percent high school graduation by 2020?

By Erin Murphy

High school graduation rates have continued to grow over the last decade, reaching a record high of 82.3 percent. This graduation rate is 10 percent higher than at the turn of the century; however, over the last year the rate of increase has begun to slow. If the graduation rate continues to slow, we will not be on track to reach the goal of 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

Earlier this week, America’s Promise Alliance, with support from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, released the 2016 Building a Grad Nation Report, which explores strategies to reach this major graduation goal as part of the GradNation Campaign.

Where does your state stand? This map shows how well states are progressing toward the goal of 90 percent high school graduation (or Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, AGCR) by the year 2020.

To introduce the findings from this report, America’s Promise Alliance hosted a webinar where expert speakers and co-authors discussed the progress and challenges in ending the high school dropout epidemic and achieving a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. Speakers included:

  • John Bridgeland, CEO and president, Civic Enterprises
  • Jennifer DePaoli, Senior Education Advisor, Civic Enterprises
  • Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education at John Hopkins University
  • Tanya Tucker, Vice president of Alliance Engagement, America’s Promise Alliance
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learn more about: Education Reform School Improvement
MAY
12
2016

CHALLENGE
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Q&A: How I pulled off a successful site visit at my afterschool program

By Robert Abare

Congressman Tom Cole meets with kids at Crooked Oak Elementary School in Oklahoma City.

Kim Templeman is an Afterschool Ambassador, principal of Crooked Oak Elementary in Oklahoma City, OK, and director of Success Through Responsive Enrichment and Mentoring (STREAM), a 21st CCLC afterschool program. Last month, the program hosted a visit by United States Congressman Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma’s 4th district.

Want to plan a site visit to your program? Take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge today!

Q: How did you lay the groundwork for Congressman Cole’s visit to your program?

A: I contacted the Congressman’s office through standard means: through the contact information provided on his website. I first called his office and left a message, and then followed up with a few emails. I also reached out to our other representatives at the state and national level, but I found Congressman’s Cole’s office was most receptive.

Initially, we hosted an visit with Congressman Cole’s field representative Will McPherson from his regional office in Norman, OK. After his visit, Will said he would try his best to arrange a visit with the Congressman.

Q: How did you kick off your site visit with Congressman Cole?

A: I started the site visit by providing the Congressman with some information about the state of afterschool programming in Oklahoma, which I found through the Afterschool Alliance's America After 3PM website. I explained to the Congressman how we rely on a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and how we use these funds to provide a number of services to our students, parents and community four days per week, like hands-on academic enrichment that supplements lessons from the school day.

Q: How did the students respond to Congressman Cole’s visit?

A: I explained to the students how lucky they were to receive a visit from a United States Congressman—I certainly never had an experience like this when I was their age! During Congressman Cole’s visit I also quizzed the students on their recent lessons regarding the legislative branch and Congress, which was a great way for the Congressman to see the students’ learning in action, and also for the students to see their lessons come to life.

MAY
11
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 11, 2016

By Luci Manning

Waterbury Children Spend Day at Half Moon Farm (Meriden Record-Journal, Connecticut)

Kids in the Almost Home afterschool program recently spent a day riding horses around Half Moon Farm with their friends and family members. This is the second year the afterschool program, which serves 40 children each week, has visited the farm, although for many of the students, it was their first time ever riding a horse. The riders were assisted by members of the Cheshire Horse Council, according to the Record-Journal.

Bird Street Students Proudly Finish 5K Race (Oroville Mercury Register, California)

Thirty Bird Street School students crossed the finish line of their first-ever 5K race last week while being cheered on by their peers in an afterschool running club. The club, organized by teachers Kristi Theveos and Kathy Pietak, trains elementary school students for the 3.1-mile race throughout the spring, encouraging them to be proud of participating in the race in the first place rather than worrying about coming in first. “It’s a big deal for them because most kids this age have never run that far,” Pietak told the Oroville Mercury Register.

Village Ambulance Program Training Young Members to Save Lives (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

Village Ambulance Service’s Explorer Post 911 is teaching kids as young as eight years old how to be lifesavers. The program teaches the basics of emergency medical services, like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, and prepares students for future careers as health care providers. It’s also a way for kids to find their self-worth and stay safe during the after school hours. “Being part of this has built my confidence and I think more kids should get involved,” high school sophomore Brianna Harris told the Berkshire Eagle. “It feels good to know that I have the skills to save a life.”

Greenhouse After-School Program Sparks Adventure for Ridgeview Elementary Students (Craig Daily Press, Colorado)

Ridgeview Elementary School students are subtly learning about science through the plant-based Greenhouse Afterschool Program. Last week, students worked with flowers like marigolds and petunias to prepare the perfect Mother’s Day plant, while also learning about the plants’ vascular system and the difference between plant and animal cells. The program is sponsored by the school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC), which also runs afterschool programs in art and languages. PAC president Mindy Baker said the afterschool atmosphere makes learning fun and less of a chore for students, and lets them explore fun topics they don’t have time for in the regular school day. “It gives you the opportunity to offer (students) something outside of what they normally have in their classes,” she told the Craig Daily Press

MAY
9
2016

IN THE FIELD
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#GirlsAre campaign inspires girls to live active lives

By Robert Abare

Girls today in the United States are far less likely than boys to achieve recommended amounts of physical activity. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. The Afterschool Alliance is joining the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation in a national effort to shine a light on the disparities between girls’ and boys’ physical activity rates—and inspire a new generation of strong, active women.

In coordination with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, the #GirlsAre campaign launched on Mother’s Day and runs until May 31. The campaign asks girls and women across the country to demonstrate the myriad ways girls show their strength using the #GirlsAre hashtag. You can chime in on social media by sharing who you think #GirlsAre, like #GirlsAre Strong, #GirlsAre Bold, #GirlsAre Leaders, or #GirlsAre Fearless.

"Between the ages of 6 and 17, the total number of minutes girls participate in vigorous physical activity drops by 86 percent, providing fewer opportunities for girls to get healthy, be healthy, and feel confident and empowered,” says Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Board Member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “This sharp decline is staggering and absolutely preventable—and we must work to do all we can to support more opportunities for girls to engage in meaningful and fun physical activity throughout childhood and adolescence."

Visitors to the campaign website, www.girlsare.org, can find tools to raise awareness of this important issue, take interactive quizzes, and add their own #GirlsAre adjective to join the nationwide conversation.  

Here are more ways to get involved!

MAY
6
2016

RESEARCH
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School's Out New York City afterschool program fosters success in middle schoolers

By Erin Murphy

A new evaluation of School’s Out New York City (SONYC), supported by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), finds that the initiative offers New York City middle schoolers a pathway to success through high-quality afterschool programming. Their program connects youth to supportive adults who provide engaging and educational activities to help achieve SONYC’s five main goals: fostering holistic youth success, encouraging youth to explore their interests, building skills to support academic achievement, cultivating youth leadership and community engagement, and engaging invested individuals in supporting these goals.

Through Mayor Bill de Blasio’s expansion initiative, enrollment in the SONYC programs more than tripled from 18,702 youth in 143 programs during the 2013-14 school year to 58,745 youth in 459 programs during the 2014-15 school year. NYC DYCD contracted with American Institutes for Research (AIR) to evaluate and better understand the impacts of the program’s increased reach.

Afterschool expansion an overwhelming success

The evaluation made it clear: program quality is high. Principals, teachers and program staff report the SONYC expansion had overwhelming success and view programs as a positive addition to schools across the city. They also report that youth in the initiative have experienced improvements, particularly in their social and emotional development and leadership skills.

Youth attended nearly 13 million hours of SONYC programming throughout the 2014-2015 school year, averaging to 236 hours for each participant. This time was split into four areas of focus. Participants spent one-third of their time completing enrichment activities in areas such as STEM, English and language arts, and the arts. Additionally, they spent 18 percent of their time in academic support, 27 percent of their time on physical activity and healthy living and 22 percent on leadership development. This program model allows students to develop the skills necessary to be successful in all components of their life.

MAY
5
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate National Fitness and Sports Month!

By Tiereny Lloyd

You ready? 3,2,1…GO!

The month of May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! This annual observance highlights the importance of healthy lifestyles, being physically active and participating in your favorite sports. Critical to enabling children to reach their fullest potential, daily physical activity must go hand in hand with healthy eating and proper nutrition. During the month of May, we call upon all afterschool providers and advocates to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating.

But wait! This month-long observance isn’t just about getting our kids active, it is also about being active adults! Yep, we are calling on you to be active too. Current Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week and youth participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day! So as you plan those fun games and serve nutritious foods to the children in your programs, be sure to participate as well. Be an example! Be a physical activity and healthy eating role model.

To help you get started, here are just a few ideas to engage in this month (and beyond!):

  • Download and become familiar with National Afterschool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards
  • Introduce some fun activities into your programs
  • Sign up to be a PreventObesity.net Leader
  • Make sure children in your programs have access to nutritious snacks and meals through CACFP’s At-Risk Afterschool or USDA’s Summer Food Service programs
  • Share our Kids on the Move infographics and tweet supportive messages:
    • This #PhysFitMonth, afterschool is keeping millions of kids active & healthy! Learn how: http://ow.ly/4nsDuG
    • How is afterschool keeping kids active & healthy in your state this #PhysFitMonth? Find out from #AmericaAfter3PM! http://ow.ly/4nsDuG
  • Post pictures of the children in your program being physical activity to your program’s website
  • Add information about physical activity and healthy eating to your newsletters
  • Host a family fit & fun night! Have families come out and participate in their favorite sport
  • Identify youth leaders in your programs that can champion healthy lifestyles among their peers

To find other tips to get active during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and beyond, visit www.fitness.gov

MAY
4
2016

RESEARCH
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Webinar recap: Afterschool in rural communities

By Erin Murphy

Afterschool programs are an integral partner for rural communities: keeping kids safe, inspiring learning and supporting working families. The Afterschool Alliance recently explored the current state of afterschool in rural communities in our America After 3PM special report, The Growing Importance of Afterschool in Rural CommunitiesLast week, we followed up on this issue in our audience-centric webinar, Afterschool in rural communities: what you need to know.

Afterschool participation in rural communities has increased over the last five years to 13 percent, or 1.2 million children. However, unmet demand for afterschool in rural communities is high; for every one child in a program, there are three more who are waiting to get in. Based on an online survey of individuals registering for this webinar, the three guest speakers—Marcia Dvorak, director of the Kansas Enrichment Network; Steph Shepard, director of Altoona Campus Kids Klub and Dan Brown, director of Abilene’s Before and After School Program—were asked to speak about topics that were of most interest to survey respondents. These topics were funding and sustainability, transportation, partnerships, parent engagement and recruiting and retaining program staff.

As director of the Kansas Enrichment Network, Marcia provides support to many rural afterschool programs, and she shared a few tips on creating high-quality rural afterschool opportunities.

  • Utilize your state network! Networks are a great resource for providers with information on funding opportunities, curriculum, professional development and more.
  • Messaging is key. Speak to the needs of your community, highlight how afterschool can meet these needs and emphasize the cost effectiveness of programs.
  • Support advocacy with research. Use good data sources to make the case for afterschool programs.
  • Consider diverse funding sources. Funding is always one of the biggest challenges to afterschool programs. Consider 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), national corporations, NSF, NASA, and community businesses and foundations.
  • Quality is key. High-quality programs are more effective and gain community support. Adhere to state and federal guidelines, considering issues such as dosage, professional development and programming offered.
  • Professional development. Many organizations provide free webinars online that act as great learning opportunities for staff at little-to-no cost for the program.
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learn more about: Equity Rural School Improvement
MAY
4
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 4, 2016

By Luci Manning

A Journey to Medicine (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

Over the past seven years, nearly 100 African-American teens have explored a potential career in medicine thanks to the Gateway Medical Society’s mentoring program, Journey to Medicine. Kids in the program receive hands-on basic medical training, academic tutoring, and guidance on how to get into college and beyond. “African-American males are the group with the lowest representation in medicine, and this group had a vision to change that,” Rhonda Johnson, a Gateway Medical Society board member, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Eli Paperboy Reed Lifts Young Voices in the Gospel Spirit (New York Times, New York)

When musician Eli Paperboy Reed visited the Gospel for Teens afterschool program in 2013, he proposed a new class in quartet singing, a looser style of music than the other choir programs at the Mama Foundation for the Arts. Since then, he has been dropping by once a week to teach groups of young men gospel songs and instill in them the confidence to sing their hearts out on street corners. Mama Foundation executive director Vy Higginsen says the class has been therapeutic for the students involved. “So whether you decide to pursue a music career or be a veterinarian, it really doesn’t matter,” she told the New York Times. “When you take the music with you, you’re taking your own therapy with you.”

Students Show Off at Maker Expo (Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio)

Reverse-engineered light sabers, 3-D printed water bottles and sumo-wrestling robots—all designed and built by high school students—were on display at last week’s World Maker and Inventor Expo, an event put on by NKY MakerSpace. Students from four counties convened at Boone County High School to see what kinds of projects their peers have been working on in STEM classes and afterschool programs. Boone County Schools expanded learning opportunities coordinator Ryan Kellinghaus called the event a success and said “Parents see the power in how we’re making education fill the needs of our community and our economy…The interactive element of this education is important and it’s why we put together workshops (at the MakerSpace).”

Students Give a Helping, Artistic Hand (Journal Review, Indiana)

The newly renovated Darlington Community Center now features a colorful mural showcasing the best parts of town, thanks to the Sugar Creek Elementary School’s art club. Fifth graders in the afterschool club worked together to design the mural, presented their design to the Darlington Town Council and raised all the money to make the project happen. Town Council Member Kim Carpenter said she and her fellow councilmembers were impressed with the presentation and thrilled the students wanted to be involved. “It is great to see the kids become invested in our local community project,” she told the Journal Review.