RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Get Afterschool Updates
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.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Recent Afterschool Snacks
FEB
20
2018

RESEARCH
email
print

New research on easy, affordable SEL practices

By Nikki Yamashiro

As the prominence of social and emotional learning (SEL) to support students’ development in school and beyond continues to grow in education circles, challenges implementing SEL programming have also arisen. The latest issue brief in a series supported by The Wallace Foundation, Kernels of Practice for SEL: Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies, offers a valuable approach to lower barriers that programs may face when looking to incorporate SEL programming.

The issue brief delves into the approach of identifying “evidence-based prevention kernels,” which are low-cost, targeted strategies at a specific behavior. The authors of the brief posit that kernels have a stronger impact and are more feasible to implement than comprehensive programs, “potentially increasing initial uptake, impact, and sustainability over time.” For instance, one example authors give of a kernel is the practice of the “turtle technique,” where an adult uses the turtle metaphor to instruct a student to breathe in deeply to help calm down. This kernel maps to the SEL domain of managing emotions and behavior, as the technique can help reduce aggression.

What’s innovative about this issue brief is its focus on creating an accessible approach to SEL practice and recognizing afterschool and summer learning programs need flexibility in order to effectively incorporate SEL practices into their programming. By illustrating the way in which kernels can help programs tailor strategies and activities to best address the needs and goals of their students, the brief is a great example of using research to inform practice.

In addition to reading the full brief, you can take a look at Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, a guide that provides an in-depth look at 25 leading SEL programs and is what Kernels of Practice for SEL: Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies drew from to identify the kernels of practice.

share this link: http://bit.ly/2Fh0lJ1
learn more about: Social and Emotional Learning
JAN
25
2018

RESEARCH
email
print

Research shows the benefits of early childhood programs

By Leah Silverberg

Over the years, research surrounding participation in early childhood programs—such as preschool, home visiting programs, and parent education programs—has continuously shown improved outcomes for children and families. A research report from RANDInvesting Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs, reinforces the connection between early childhood programs and short- and long-term benefits for children’s health, behavior, and cognitive achievement, and upholds that investment in effective programs can often lead to increased financial return in the long run.  

Early childhood programs exist in a network of supports for children and families that include afterschool and summer programs. Focusing on children from the prenatal period up to age five and their families, these early childhood programs included in this study encompass a breadth of support systems from prenatal parenting classes to early care and education programs for toddlers.

To conduct their study, RAND examined 115 programs with existing rigorous evaluations, and found that the majority of early childhood programs lead to positive child outcomes. Considering the wide array of early childhood programming available, the outcomes measured by this study and its evaluations reflect that diversity, which include examining behavior and emotions, cognitive achievement, short- and long-term health, educational attainment, future employment, and more.  

DEC
21
2017

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Wallace & RAND brief: ESSA can support SEL

By Jillian Luchner

Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) originally passed in December 2015, afterschool partners have been able to use their expertise in youth development to build on the newfound flexibility that ESSA provides for states, districts, and schools around the country toward the goal of well-rounded support for all students. An especially promising avenue for the field is the new opportunities that have arisen around social and emotional learning (SEL). Numerous studies have shown that social and emotional learning can support many areas of student development and achievement, but there have historically been few opportunities to advance SEL through the formal education system. While ESSA does not explicitly mention SEL, there is a strong case to be made that the bill provides a wealth of new opportunities to advance SEL interventions both in and out of school.

On December 13, RAND researchers in coordination with researchers at the Wallace Foundation hosted a webinar highlighting how SEL interventions fit into the structure of ESSA. Focusing largely on the findings of the RAND Corporation’s recently published brief, “How the Every Student Succeeds Act Can Support Social and Emotional Learning,” presenters shared some good news: RAND has identified a menu of 60 SEL interventions that meet the requirements laid out by ESSA.

DEC
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
email
print

"I want to be a beacon"

By Guest Blogger

By Kevin Hamilton, vice president for communications at the Student Conservation Association.

Welcome to the first post in our new blog series about the vital role that out-of-school time programs play in the social, emotional, and character development that youth need to navigate a complex, interconnected world. This series is made possible through generous support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Ranger Rece and colleauges at the Pittsburgh Parks & Recreation Department

It was about this time last year, at the height of the holiday season, that AmaRece Davis’ email popped up on my screen.

“I just want to thank SCA again,” he wrote, “and let you know that I’m living the dream.”

Few would have predicted that outcome just a few years ago. AmaRece, however, never had a doubt.

Rece, as he’s known, grew up in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. It’s a tough neighborhood. Lots of poverty, lots of crime. By the time Rece was 15, his two older brothers were in prison and, he admits, he was headed in that same direction. Things took a turn that summer, however, when Rece joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA)’s local crew program. SCA, an organization perhaps best known for placing teen and young adult volunteers in places like Yellowstone and Yosemite, also provides opportunities to participate in environmental-focused programs for urban youth in America’s leading cities.

NOV
14
2017

RESEARCH
email
print

"Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool" highlights promising practices for all ages

By Nikki Yamashiro

The next generation of the American workforce is growing up right now and afterschool programs are vital partners in helping young people discover new passions and work towards their dreams. As in so many other subjects, the variety and versatility of afterschool programming offers opportunities for different kids at different ages and stages of development to benefit, whether the focus is on social and emotional learning, teamwork and communications skills, or concrete experience at paid internships.

In the Minneapolis Beacons afterschool programs, elementary school students learn and play collaboratively in groups, practicing active listening, considering and respecting different perspectives, and reaching consensus in a group setting. On the other side of the spectrum, high schoolers in Sunrise of Philadelphia’s afterschool program create five-year road maps for themselves, participate in mock interviews, and have the opportunity to work in a variety of paid internships.

Programs are helping students discover potential career pathways, connecting students to real-world workplace experience, and guiding students to build the foundational skills that will benefit students in school and when they enter the workforce. Afterschool Alliance’s new issue brief, Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool, examines the ladder of supports that afterschool programs provide students to help them thrive beyond school, as they grow into adults into their future careers.

OCT
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Success Story: Girls on the Run

By Faith Savaiano

Twenty years ago in Charlotte, N.C., a young woman began the first Girls On the Run (GOTR) team as an individual effort. But when the program was covered in Runner’s World, a running-focused magazine, the demand for this girls-specific running program exploded. Today, GOTR has more than 200 councils across all 50 states, serving more than 200,000 girls each year.

The program’s rapid growth presented the young organization with the challenge and opportunity to develop a more structured curriculum, according to Dr. Heather Pressley, senior vice president of mission advancement.

“The team at headquarters realized that the organic growth was great but it was very fast, [and] we needed to look into the quality and consistency of the program across sites where it was being offered,” Pressley said. “We took the original concept of building confidence through running and created an intentional curriculum with measurable physical, social, emotional, and life skills outcomes.”

OCT
6
2017

RESEARCH
email
print

New report from the Wallace Foundation: Strategies to scale up

By Nikki Yamashiro

The question of how to scale up—taking a successful program, project, or policy and growing it to expand its reach and therefore its impact—has been an important one when thinking about systems change. It is a key component in efforts to make sustainable, positive social gains; a subject highly relevant to the afterschool field. Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, the study, “Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs: Pathways, Partnerships and Fidelity,” takes a close look at the strategic decisions made by 45 programs—ranging in focus from education to the environment—that helped them expand their reach and bring their services to a greater number of people. Key takeaways from the report include:

Pathways, partnerships, and fidelity. The three interrelated strategic choices common to scale up efforts are:

  1. Pathways - the decision of how to scale
  2. Partnerships - whom to partner with and how
  3. Fidelity - how a scale up effort does or does not change or adapt as new partners or communities implement the scale up

Partnerships are critical in scaling up efforts. While funders were identified as core partners by almost all of the programs included in the study, partnerships provided scaling up efforts more than funding. From consultation expertise to volunteers and from infrastructure to implementation, the programs reviewed relied on the support of their partners.

Find the right balance. Finding the right balance between program fidelity and adaptation can help ensure that the scaling up effort is meeting the needs of the community while at the same time maintaining its effectiveness.

SEP
13
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

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.”