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SEP
21
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Library partnerships help keep the Lights On Afterschool

By Leah Silverberg

All across America, afterschool programs love their libraries! According to a 2017 study of more than 350 afterschool programs, nearly three-quarters reported that they were working with their local public library in diverse ways, from literacy initiatives to book lending programs and STEM activities. Those informal learning relationships deserve to be featured, and that’s why one of the major themes of this year’s Lights On Afterschool is library partnerships!

As you write your invitations, be sure to invite staff from your local library to participate in your Lights On Afterschool event. Here are a few possibilities for featuring the library in your celebration:

  • Reach out and ask the library if you can host your celebration there; libraries often serve as valuable community meeting places
  • Encourage librarians to promote and attend your event
  • Invite library staff to read to your students or work at an in-event library card sign-up booth as part of your event

If you’re not already in partnership with a library, it can be difficult to imagine the full spectrum of benefits that close collaboration can produce. But just as afterschool isn’t exclusively limited to child care, libraries aren’t just places for books and study! One of our Lights On Afterschool partners, STAR_Net, is working to connect science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities with local public libraries. The results are impressive!

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learn more about: STEM Lights On Afterschool
SEP
20
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 20, 2017

By Luci Manning

Best Speaks in Support of After-School Programs (Branson Tri-Lakes News, Missouri)

Last Tuesday, Branson Mayor Karen Best spoke at a congressional briefing organized by the Afterschool Alliance in support of federal funding for afterschool programs. Best emphasized afterschool programming’s benefits for childhood development. “I firmly believe if you have a passion, it’s your duty and obligation to fight for that passion,” Best told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “As the mayor of Branson, it’s my obligation to fight for the kids in our community.” After the panel, Best had a chance to meet with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).

SHINE for Girls: Middle School Students Dance Their Way to Better Math Scores (Pensacola News Journal, Florida)

The SHINE for Girls program aims to inspire confidence and improve math scores for middle school girls by helping them learn through dance. The program is run by two Pensacola High School seniors and gives students the opportunity to partake in interactive lessons rather than working through books or worksheets. “The idea of our program is to make it so that girls are able to do math problems and to know that just because they don’t understand right now doesn’t mean they won’t be able to in the future,” Laura Hagy, 17-year-old executive director of the Florida chapter of SHINE, told the Pensacola News Journal. Students in the program have improved their test scores by an average of 50 points.

Kids Klub Climbs into Saddle with Mid-Plains Rodeo Team (North Platte Telegraph, Nebraska)

Students in the Kids Klub Rough Riders afterschool program are learning about horse care, behavior, anatomy, nutrition and safety through a partnership with Mid-Plains Community College, Dusty Trails LLC and the West Central Research and Extension Center. Last week, Kids Klub students met with the MPCC Rodeo Team for a hands-on rodeo lesson and dinner with the crew. “This was an impressive lineup of programming and a night they won’t forget,” Kids Klub executive director Carrie Lienemann told the North Platte Telegraph. Thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Education, students will participate in horseback riding lessons and other activities centered around animals and agriculture throughout the fall.

Students Turn Classroom Lessons into Musical Masterpieces (Bowling Green Daily News, Kentucky)

Adairville Elementary School assistant principal Jonathan Stovall is helping students learn classroom lessons through music in a unique summer and afterschool program. Stovall and local musicians work with students Wednesday evenings at NF Records to produce songs with original rhythms and lyrics on topics from the water cycle to the U.S. Constitution. “I wanted to build something that was engaging to kids and met kids where they’re at,” Stovall told the Bowling Green Daily News.

 

SEP
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Michigan Engineering Zone

By Marco Ornelas

As the home of the American auto industry and birthplace of Motown, Detroit has always been a hub for American ingenuity and creativity. But in 2013, Detroit became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy after decades of economic. The city officially exited bankruptcy in 2014 following a debt restructuring plan, but many feel that the work to get the city back on track has just begun.

Still, the transformation that’s begun in the heart of downtown Detroit, which city leaders and residents are working to channel into the outer neighborhoods, signals hope. The residents of Detroit have worked hard to fight widespread economic hardships and earned their home the nickname “Renaissance City.”

What is catalyzing the economic revival of this city? Efforts like the University of Michigan’s Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) are definitely a helping hand in restarting the economic engine.

SEP
13
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 13, 2017

By Luci Manning

Yoga Is for Keikei Too (The Garden Island, Hawaii)

Children are increasing their strength, balance, coordination, endurance, flexibility and more in afterschool yoga programs throughout Hawaii. Instructors believe that the breathing techniques and challenging poses in yoga help students learn to control their emotions, calm themselves down and support one another. “Children learn how to feel and process their emotions while in challenging poses,” Kauai Power Yoga owner and director Jessica Stein told the Garden Island. “This becomes training for life off the mat as well.”

Federal Funding Cuts Could Slash After-School Activities from Rugby to Robotics (San Diego Union-Tribune, California)

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program would strip $8.8 million from schools in San Diego County and leave nearly 6,000 students without access to afterschool programs. “Our students have a safe place to continue their learning, to connect and network with their peers and also with the community, beyond our school day,” Escondido Unified High School District assistant superintendent April Moore told the San Diego Union-Tribune. Schools across the county are looking into alternative sources of funding in order to keep the programs running even if the budget cuts go through.

A Community Garden Full of Education (MyWabashValley, Indiana)

The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has partnered with Benjamin Franklin Elementary School to start an afterschool gardening program that will hopefully increase access to fresh foods for Terre Haute residents. Through the two-hour afterschool program, students will maintain a school garden and eventually bring home the produce they’ve grown to share with their families. “That sense of sharing is something that just can’t be replaced…” Dr. Mark Minster told MyWabashValley. “You can buy stuff at a grocery store that you can share with other people but when you have that sense of ownership and responsibility it makes a big difference.”

From Potatoes to Robotics, 4-H Aims to Meet Children Where Their Needs Are (Bangor Daily News, Maine)

In the past several years, 4-H has moved away from its agricultural roots to increasingly prioritize STEM education. In Maine, 4-H programs reach 28,000 children, with only 3,000 participating in the traditional dairy and steer clubs. Many of the rest are conducting scientific research with graduate students, learning about marine life, programming robots and participating in other engaging, hands-on STEM activities through summer and afterschool programs. “4-H has always been about teaching kids life skills,” Maine’s 4-H program administrator, Lisa Phelps, told the Bangor Daily News. “Now those skills are going to be valuable whether you’re learning how to take care of an animal, or whether you’re learning to build a robot.” 

SEP
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Girls Who Code Clubs: Prepare girls in your community for the future

By Leah Silverberg

Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech, wants to work with you! Through their afterschool Clubs Program, 6th-12th grade girls use computer science to impact their community and join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models. Clubs can be hosted by many kinds of youth-serving organizations, including schools, community centers, faith-based organizations, universities, libraries, and other nonprofits.

All materials from Girls Who Code are provided for free, including:

  • 120+ hours of curriculum, activity sets, and an online learning management system
  • Recruitment materials, including student, and volunteer flyers
  • Program management support, including field trip and grant opportunities
  • Facilitator trainings, resources, and real-time support

 

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science Girls
AUG
28
2017

IN THE FIELD
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New resource guide for bringing computer science to your program

By Leah Silverberg

In 2016, we set out to learn more about computer science in afterschool programs. What did we find? Afterschool programs really want to provide computer science to their students! A full 97 percent of programs that had offered computing in the past said they were “extremely likely” or “likely” to offer it again, and 89 percent of programs that had never offered computing education rated their interest in offering such programming as “high” or “medium.”

However, there are common obstacles that get in the way. First of all, computer science can be intimidating — especially for educators without a background in the computing field — and finding knowledgeable staff can be difficult. Beyond that, finding a quality and affordable curriculum can be a challenge, especially for programs that have never offered computer science before.

In the past few years there has been a lot of progress in creating computer science resources for afterschool and summer programs to make it easier for providers to offer computer science options to their students, but there is still a long way to go. So, we took the first steps and compiled a guide to get you started. Here is a sneak peak of some of the tips and resources:

AUG
25
2017

LIGHTS ON
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What's happening for Lights On 2017?

By Charlotte Steinecke

Lights On Afterschool is less than eight weeks away and lots of programs have started planning their events! From marches and rallies to scavenger hunts and STEM lessons, the possibilities for a successful event are endless.

Looking for inspiration for your event? Check out the revamped Event Ideas & Activities page, where you can search by theme, activities, planning time, difficulty, partnerships, state, and audiences to find the pitch-perfect idea for your program.

For 2017, here’s what programs around the country are planning:

AUG
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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New resource: “STEM and Wellness: A Powerful Equation for Equity”

By Julie Keller

Would you rather have the students in your program learn to code or be able to run a 5K?

That question focuses on one of the main issues that face afterschool programs every day: how do we give our kids more, with less? Everyone wants healthy, active kids who are also receiving important academic enrichment they may not find in the school day. With STEM and wellness both on the rise in popularity and importance while funding and resources are slashed, how are out-of-school time (OST) providers to prioritize one or the other?

The National Afterschool Association (NAA), Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Afterschool Alliance, and National Girls Collaborative Project (NCGP) have collaborated to come up with a solution. “Imagine the potential of empowering the 10.2 million children in afterschool programs with science, technology, engineering, and math skills, while providing them with opportunities to eat healthy and stay active,” reads the first sentence of “STEM and Wellness: A Powerful Equation for Equity.”