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APR
19
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 19, 2017

By Luci Manning

Sew Bain Club Sends Handmade Clothing to Nicaragua (Cranston Herald, Rhode Island)

Nearly a dozen girls have been spending their afterschool time learning to design clothes and use a sewing machine for a good cause. The girls in the Sew Bain afterschool club, part of Afterschool Ambassador Ayana Crichton’s Bain afterschool program, work three days a week to hand-sew clothing to donate to children in Latin America. “They are really very kind to one another and have become like a little family in here,” program head Rachel Bousquet told the Cranston Herald. “They give each other ideas, they are really encouraging each other and they help each other.”

Standing Up for Their Own – Locally and Globally (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)

Eight high school students recently had a chance to lobby for youth programs as part of a special trip to Washington D.C. The Youth Ambassadors pilot program, from Jackson-based Operation Shoestring and ChildFund International, brought the students to Washington to meet with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and staff from the offices of several others members of the Mississippi delegation to discuss the importance of afterschool and summer programs in low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world. “It let our students know they can share their perspectives and that change is a complicated and protracted process,” Operation Shoestring executive director Robert Langford told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

Letter: Ending Farm and Garden Would Be a Major Loss (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

In a letter to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle, 16-year old Julianna Martinez expressed worry that critical funding for her afterschool program will be eliminated under President Trump’s proposed budget: “Farm and Garden is more than just an after-school program. It’s a place where I can be myself and feel welcomed just as I am…. And it’s not just me. 21st Century programs like Farm and Garden mean so much to many of us youth. They provide activities to keep us out of trouble. They teach skills that help us be successful in the future…. I have never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy being in Farm and Garden program. It has brought joy and warmth to my heart every week. Please, President Trump, do not take that away from me.”

Dogs Help Teach Life Skills, Offer Unconditional Love (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)

Paws and Think has expanded its programming to pair dogs with struggling students to help them learn important life skills and spend time with a loving canine companion. Through the Pups and Warriors program, students at Warren Central High School train dogs who will soon go up for adoption, honing social and emotional learning skills and building confidence. “The dogs not only instill love and attention, they help the kids blossom,” Paws and Think executive director Kelsey Burton told the Indianapolis Star. The dogs benefit too, learning basic obedience skills that will help them be better pets once they’re adopted. 

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learn more about: POTUS Service Youth Development
FEB
22
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 22, 2017

By Luci Manning

SHINE Afterschool Program Students Donate Blankets to Ruth’s Place (Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, Pennsylvania)

Students in a STEAM-focused afterschool program recently used their skills to give back to those in need in their community. Middle school students in the SHINE afterschool program made blankets by double-knotting strips of fabric, and then donated the finished products to Ruth’s Place, a temporary shelter for homeless women. “It was a chance to do something with friends and to do something for other people,” 13-year-old Rita Palchanis told the Times-Leader. The blanket donation was the first part of the program’s new community service initiative called “Giving Back through Engineering.”

New Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Taking Root in Blacksburg (Roanoke Times, Virginia)

Adults and children are pairing up to learn about science as part of the new Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center Mentoring Program, an offshoot of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia. Through the program, 33 adult “bigs” are paired with “littles” to perform science experiments, work on art projects and spend time bonding and learning from each other. Mentors act as positive role models for the youths while maintaining a friendly, casual relationship. “We do experiments a lot in science [class], but not like this,” 12-year-old Jaseph Cagas told the Roanoke Times.

Lego Robots Help Teach Kids about Engineering, Math (Deseret News, Utah)

While building things out of Legos and playing computer games may seem like plain fun, students in the Zaniac science and technology program are actually picking up valuable engineering and technical skills in their afterschool sessions. The program stresses hands-on experience and peer-based learning to engage young people in STEM subjects. “We try to give kids that opportunity, not teach in a lecture-based environment where we stand at the front of the class,” Zaniac franchise development manager Zane Brandt told the Deseret News. “Put something in their hands that may be too advanced for them and let them learn as they play.”

Kenney, Hite Announce Afterschool Program for All Philly Students (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is building on the pre-kindergarten and community schools plan he launched last year with a new Out-of-School Time Initiative, which he announced last Thursday with Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis and School Superintendent William Hite Jr. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the initiative will be rolled out over several years, funded both by the city and partnerships with the school district and philanthropic foundations. The program aspires to involve all 250,000 students in the city in out-of-school time programs over the next seven years. The initiative will focus on literacy for kindergarten through third-grade students and workforce development for ninth- through twelfth-graders. 

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learn more about: Robotics Science Service Literacy
JAN
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy through service

By Rachel Clark

By Ronni Nelson, a My Brother’s Keeper VISTA working to increase access to high-quality educational, enrichment and mentoring opportunities for young men of color in Tennessee.

Volunteers get ready to volunteer at Lonsdale Elementary School.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the day set aside to commemorate one of our most revered civil rights leaders and activists, is also a day that we should strive to live out the values of justice, peace, and service that he believed in so deeply and manifested so profoundly.

Each year, the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) AmeriCorps program and Emerald Youth Foundation coordinate a joint MLK Day of Service project to serve the local community in honor of this day. For this year’s Day of Service, approximately 60 AmeriCorps and community members, including myself, spent this past Saturday volunteering at Lonsdale Elementary School to work on a variety of beautification projects. Service projects included community cleanup with several litter street teams, landscaping work around the school, and organizing some outdoor and indoor storage spaces.

My group worked to organize the school’s basement, a task that seemed daunting at first sight, but our efforts resulted in a much more organized and usable space.  The litter street teams worked diligently to remove more than 75 bags of trash from the surrounding area. After a morning of hard work, the volunteers refueled with some well-earned pizza and learned a bit more about the diverse school and community they had served, including background on Lonsdale’s very multicultural community—most of the school’s student population is composed of Guatemalan and Honduran immigrants and African refugees.

As a My Brother’s Keeper VISTA working toward closing the racial achievement gap in reading proficiency, it was so meaningful to me to honor one of our greatest champions of racial justice at an elementary school that exemplifies the type of interracial and intercultural community to which Dr. King dedicated his life. In one of his last sermons, Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed the hope that someone would say he had spent his life trying “to love and serve humanity.” Let us all continue working towards his dream of a united nation by continuing to serve our local communities throughout the rest of the year as well. 

JAN
18
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 18, 2017

By Luci Manning

‘Hidden Figures’ Stars Encourage Girls to Pursue STEM Careers During LA Screening (EdSource)

Approximately 10,000 middle and high school girls from the Los Angeles area had a chance to attend a special screening of the new film ‘Hidden Figures’ and hear from some of the film’s stars about why it’s important for women of color to pursue careers in STEM fields. The event was organized by the LA Promise fund, a nonprofit that helps middle and high school girls prepare for college and careers, and featured Grammy winner Pharrell Williams, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and actors Janelle Monáe and Aldis Hodge. “Our goal here is to kill that very old-school mentality that math, science, technology and engineering are made for the male mind,” Williams told EdSource

A Splash of Tropic Sunshine (Coeur d’Alene Press, Idaho)

Students at the Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities are taking a break from winter to visit Hawaii – without leaving their afterschool classroom. The school’s artist-in-residence, Bria Zan Thompson, is spending two weeks teaching students about Hawaiian dance, legends, environment and culture. The two-week unit will culminate with a big dance production at the end of the week, with different grades responsible for different dances. According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, the artist-in-residence program brings in an outside professional to teach something students wouldn’t normally learn during the school day.

Alumnae Expose High School Students to Art, Stained Glass Making (Temple News, Pennsylvania)

Students in a Philadelphia afterschool program are learning to create art that can last a lifetime. The middle and high school students involved in the Stained Glass Project learn stained glass window-making from two Temple University alumnae. In the 11 years the program has been running, the students have donated at least 115 stained glass windows to schools and centers around the world, including a primary school in South Africa and a Native American reservation in Minnesota, according to Temple News. “When in [the student’s] lives do they have a chance to do something and … donate it?” Joan Myerson Shrager, one of the women in charge of the program, said. “I think there’s a lot of pride in our students that they have created something very beautiful that they then donate.”

Volunteers, Students Work to Bridge Generation Gap (Herald-Dispatch, West Virginia)

Teens and seniors came together over Bingo this MLK Day as part of President Barack Obama’s national call-to-service initiative, United We Serve. More than 100 students from the Westmoreland Teen Center and 31 AmeriCorps volunteers played games at nursing and retirement homes and passed out gift bags filled with compression socks, lip balm and lotions. “(I hope they learn) there isn’t really a difference between the populations,” teen center director Dawn Baumgardner told the Herald-Dispatch. “They are just like us. There is a lot that they can learn from the older generation. Hopefully it will encourage them to help out and volunteer more when they see the older population.” 

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learn more about: Science Service Arts Community Partners
DEC
23
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating our AmeriCorps VISTAs' 2016 accomplishments

By Andrea Szegedy-Maszak

Members of the VISTA team gathered on the National Mall in September.

For the last five years, the Afterschool Alliance has been a proud sponsor organization for nationwide AmeriCorps VISTA projects. VISTA, which stands for “Volunteers in Service to America,” is a 50-year-old service program with the central mission of alleviating poverty through capacity building for nonprofit organizations. VISTA members are considered full-time federal volunteers during their one-year term of service.

Our VISTA program—and the scope of our VISTAs’ work to support the afterschool field—has grown significantly over the past five years. Most recently, we’ve added VISTAs dedicated to supporting the STEM Ecosystem Initiative, as well as VISTAs focusing on mentoring opportunities for young men of color. Read on to learn more about our VISTAs’ work and a few highlights from 2016.

Our VISTAs’ major highlights from 2016

Oklahoma STEM Ecosystem VISTAs Sabrina Bevins and Aleia McNaney have taken on leadership roles in the planning of a Women in STEM book club and event series surrounding the release of the film Hidden Figures, culminating with a screening of the film. Sabrina has signed on a number of female STEM professionals to mentor young girls in Tulsa over the course of the program.

Thanks to Sabrina’s successful partner outreach, Cox Media has agreed to run four radio campaigns in promotion of the program, and a local theater company has donated a screening room that seats more than 400. Aleia has been spearheading communications efforts for the Hidden Figures program, including designing promotional materials for a book drive held Tuesday, November 29 in support of the book club.

New Jersey Meals VISTA Jaimie Held has been making strides in expanding afterschool and summer meals for kids and families in Newark, N.J. Jaimie created partnerships with local food banks to host afterschool and summer meals open house events in 2017. She also scheduled an afterschool and summer meals open house in January 2017 at Newark’s Bolden Student Center to recruit new afterschool and summer meal sites.

SEP
19
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: AmeriCorps VISTAs encourage unity through service on the anniversary of 9/11

By Robert Abare

Written by Ligea Alexander, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) for Summer and Afterschool Meals Expansion, a project sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance.

This past weekend, I joined hundreds of other volunteers in the AARP Meal Pack Challenge to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The challenge, which debuted last year, raises awareness of the increasing number of elderly persons who experience poverty and are food insecure. It also honors all the veterans and retired first responders who have dedicated their lives to serve others.

Along with my fellow VISTAs, I joined volunteers from across the nation and Canada, including Girl Scout troops, members of the elderly community, teenagers, college alums, returning volunteers and those in service to America. This dynamic group of people who united to answer the call of elderly hunger reflected a similar variation of those who united in the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11. Housed under a tent just a few steps away from the WW Memorial, we formed packing tables for soy, rice, beans and essential vitamins combined to form low-prep meals. These specially formulated meals would then meet the nutritional needs of recipient seniors.

With music keeping our spirits high and energized, I paused for a minute to appreciate the momentum of the event. Some of us were dancing to the music, others were smiling for the cameras documenting the event, and everyone was focused on meeting the 1.5 million target of packed meals. Although this was my first time participating in the challenge, I easily became acquainted with many second time volunteers from the year before. At my table alone, all age groups were represented, including a 4-year-old boy whose enthusiasm in packing meals into boxes was incredibly heart-moving.

When two day event came to a close, over 1.5 million meals had been packaged. As an AmeriCorps Summer and Afterschool Meals Expansion VISTA, I appreciate having participated in this challenge very deeply as I continue my advocacy to eradicate hunger from all who experience it.

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Service Vista
JAN
13
2016

POLICY
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President's final State of the Union sets agenda for the future

By Jillian Luchner

President Obama’ final State of the Union address appealed to the commonalities among us as a nation and posed 4 major questions:

  • How do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity in this economy?
  • How do we make technology work for us and not against us?
  • How do we make the world safe without becoming the world’s police?
  • How can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us and not what’s worst?

In the afterschool field, there is much we can do—and are already doing—to help propel the vision the president sees for “the next five years, ten years, and beyond."

Afterschool programs provide daily access to the academic enrichment skills, interpersonal skills, mentors, and career introduction that young people need to be successful in life. Afterschool plays a key role in nurturing equal opportunity in the new economy.

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learn more about: Congress POTUS Service Community Partners
AUG
12
2015

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrating the power of national service in helping kids succeed

By Rachel Clark

During the month of August, the Corporation for National and Community Service is celebrating the work national service programs do to help kids succeed in school. We’re joining them to celebrate our dedicated team of AmeriCorps VISTAs, who work tirelessly to ensure that all kids have access to quality afterschool, as well as to provide healthy afterschool meals and to increase afterschool STEM opportunities.

To keep kids’ bellies full and minds ready to learn, New Jersey meals VISTA Erin Moran has helped pilot Newark, N.J.’s new “Lunch and Learn” program, giving Newark kids an opportunity to receive a free healthy meal and participate in an engaging enrichment activity to curb summer learning loss. In nearby Jersey City, VISTA member Orlane Baghana had monumental success in recruiting summer learning sites to enroll in the Summer Food Service Program—through her outreach efforts, more than 80 summer learning sites have been approved to receive summer meals. That equates to more than 2700 students receiving healthy meals this summer!