By Jodi Grant
For every child enrolled in an afterschool program, two more would enroll if they could, according to parents. That’s among the findings from our new survey, the 2014 edition of America After 3PM spanning 30,000 American households.
In all, 10.2 million children are in afterschool programs, up from 6.5 million in 2004. But the unmet demand for afterschool—parents who want to enroll their child in a program but say they don’t have a program available—has increased over the last decade as well, with the parents of a projected 19.4 million children now saying they would enroll their child in a program if one were available to them. Demand is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars, spoke with reporters about the data and commented:
“Due to the fact that most students come from homes where both parents are working, we have a duty to provide safe havens for our children during the crucial hours from 3-6 pm. Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities. Reams of data show it, and I’ve seen it in my own work. These programs help kids with homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, help them to be physically fit, involve them in activities like rocketry and robotics, and much more.”
“Afterschool is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough,” Schwarzenegger added. “America After 3 PM shows that we are meeting only about one-third of the demand for afterschool programs. We need federal, state and local governments, philanthropies, and businesses to step up and provide the resources that will put us on the path to making afterschool available to all.”
Highlights from the new survey:
On the evening of Oct. 23, for the eighth year in a row, the iconic Empire State Building will be lit up in yellow to celebrate Lights On Afterschool.
We’re truly honored to have the Empire State Building—a proud national landmark—as a lighting partner for Lights On Afterschool for the eighth year in a row. Every day, afterschool programs keep the lights on for students, and every October, we honor and celebrate all that they do for children, families, communities and the country. To have the Empire State Building celebrate with us for another year is a tribute to the many ways afterschool programs support learning and expand students’ horizons, as well as to the Empire State Building’s commitment to students and families.
See how afterschool programs near the Empire State Building will be celebrating while taking in the skyline! Search for local Lights On Afterschool events.
Remember to register your own Lights On Afterschool event and let us know how you’ll be celebrating!
Nutritious meals provided to children during afterschool and summer learning programs have the dual effect of nourishing students while making them more apt to learn and benefit from enriching activities. And according to Baltimore’s Holabird Academy Principal Anthony Ruby, the shared meals also build a sense of community that helps foster student success. Legislation to strengthen out-of-school-time child nutrition programs could increase this positive impact on young people.
On Oct. 8, Mr. Ruby joined Crystal FitzSimmons of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Elena Rocha of the YMCA of the USA, and Terri Kerwawich of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department in addressing Congressional staff during a briefing on Capitol Hill focusing on feeding children year-round through the afterschool and summer meal programs.
A standing-room only crowd of policy makers, advocates and media heard about the vital role played by the At-Risk Afterschool Meals and the Summer Nutrition programs in providing nutritious food for hungry children when school is out of session:
In the United States, 7.5 million students miss 10 percent of the school year. That’s 135 million days total. More than 40 organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, are working in partnership to raise awareness about the connection between attendance and academic achievement by celebrating Attendance Awareness Month. Schools and organizations across the country are putting on events this month. A map of events, a toolkit for putting on your own event and suggestions for media outreach can be found on the Attendance Awareness Month website.
Afterschool has been shown to have a significant impact on student’s school day attendance rates:
Mo’ne Davis, the first female Little Leaguer to pitch a winning game at the Little League World Series and also the first Little Leaguer ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, was introduced to baseball in an afterschool program, ABC News reports:
“Davis's love of sport blossomed early. Steve Bandura of the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation noticed Davis six years ago holding her own at football against the boys. Bandura introduced Davis to the Marian Anderson Recreation Center's after-school program that includes time spent on homework and sports. From there, Davis and the program were inseparable.”
The Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia is home to the Anderson Monarchs, which fields baseball, basketball and soccer teams. Research shows that programs that utilize the afterschool space as a site for enjoying physical activity and learning about healthful lifestyles can improve student health outcomes.
Check out our newest resource, a visually appealing four-pager that makes the case for afterschool STEM by pulling together research on the importance of STEM learning in afterschool. It demonstrates how afterschool is a critical component in a child’s overall education, and describes how afterschool STEM uniquely impacts youth.
We hope you’ll find this handout useful in your advocacy efforts with elected officials, funders and potential community partners. When accompanied by a compelling description of your own program and evidence of your program’s impact, you can help stakeholders understand that afterschool must be an integral partner in any efforts to reform or improve STEM education. In addition to the Web version, you can also download a high-resolution print version, which prints as a booklet on 11"x17" paper. Make sure to adjust your printer settings to print double-sided, flipped on the top edge.
The handout is based on the papers “Examining the impact of afterschool STEM programs” (July 2014) and “Defining youth outcomes for STEM learning in afterschool” (January 2013).
If you’re looking for more guidance on effective advocacy, check out our advocacy toolkit, “Making the case for STEM afterschool.”
Jim Jeffords: A founder of the movement to expand afterschool programs, a hero to children and families
By Jodi Grant
This post was originally published on Huffington Post's Education Blog. Read the original post and share your thoughts with the HuffPost community.
Before former Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont introduced the first legislation to provide federal funding for afterschool in 1994, the federal government played essentially no role in providing meaningful support and programming for young people in the hours after the school day ended and before parents arrived home from work. Sen. Jeffords, who passed away on Aug. 18 at the age of 80, was a pioneer in the national afterschool movement. He worked tirelessly to build congressional and presidential support for a national afterschool and summer learning program infrastructure that lives on today as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC).
Sen. Jeffords had many proud accomplishments, including chairing the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and helping to shape the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act. But advocates for afterschool remember him best as one of the original authors of the legislation that created the 21st CCLC.