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MAY
25
2016

CHALLENGE
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You took the Challenge, and Congress listened!

By Robert Abare

Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant and After-School All-Stars D.C. participant Kyle Brewer present Rep. Bobby Scott (D, VA-03) with an "Afterschool Hero" cape to honor his heroic support of afterschool in Congress. Photo by Herman Farrer.

On Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, the 15th annual Afterschool for All Challenge brought more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country to Washington, D.C. for two days of learning, advocating, and celebrating out-of-school time programs. Thanks to the collaboration and enthusiasm of these participants—supported by messages to Congress sent from advocates nationwide—this year's Challenge was a huge success! 

Here are the amazing accomplishments of this year's Challenge:

  • More than 150 participants from 36 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • More than 160 visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, many of which were attended by Members of Congress.
  • Workshops on the latest in afterschool, including child nutrition reauthorizationadvocacy during election season, and afterschool in rural America.
  • A panel discussion and Q&A with staffers of Members of Congress who played a key role in supporting afterschool programs in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • An Afterschool Showcase on Capitol Hill, featuring performances and demonstrations by local and national afterschool programs, and remarks by Senators and Representatives who championed out-of-school time programs in Congress.
  • Nearly 800 messages sent to Congress by participants of the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge.
MAY
25
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 25, 2016

By Luci Manning

To Bridge the Gap (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas)

Joyce Willis, educational programs manager for the Clinton Foundation, makes the case for summer learning programs in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “Summer learning loss, also known as the ‘summer slide,’ affects nearly every student in the country…. This education loss is even more severe for students from low-income families who fall nearly three months behind in the summer…. That’s why it’s important for communities to come together and create opportunities for our students—all our students—to have access to quality educational and literacy programs.”

Organizers: Program for Inner-City Kids is Difference Between Life and Death (WHO, Iowa)

A ten-week summer program is attempting to transform Des Moines’ poorest neighborhoods into safe places for kids. “Doing More in the Core” is providing grants to non-profits and community organizations that offer activities for young people from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the summer, a time when police say youths are most likely to get into trouble. “Everybody’s home situation isn’t the best,” Oakridge Neighborhood site coordinator Stephen Williams told WHO. “Giving them an opportunity or a place to go or services that they can benefit from or learn from may help save a life.”

“There’s a Lot of Devastation,” After-School Programs Brace for Budget Cuts (KFOR, Oklahoma)

Oklahoma City Public Schools’ looming budget cuts will start affecting students this week as summer programs try to handle the cutbacks. Struggling students will lose out on tutoring, fun activities and meals thanks to the $30 million in planned reductions. “So, the kids will be home alone, a lot of them or out getting in trouble,” Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Jane Sutter told KFOR. “It’s a very economically challenged area of our community. There are not a lot of options for those kids. So, not only will they not get a nutritious meal probably during the day, they won’t have positive activities to help them grow and learn…  It is really time for our state leadership, our community leadership, everybody to make kids come first.”

Shaking up Fitness (Austin American-Statesman, Texas)

Middle school students throughout Austin are learning that biking and running are more than just ways to stay fit – they’re a way to build confidence, make friends and, most importantly, have fun. Boneshaker Project runs youth exercise programs at recreation centers and schools throughout the city, fulfilling its mission to foster a lifestyle of activity and movement. The nonprofit targets middle school kids, according to founder Todd Reed, because it’s an underserved age group when it comes to these sorts of programs. “We all realize there are more resources available to elementary kids than middle school kids,” he told the Austin American-Statesman. “There’s a gap there, at a time when kids are very impressionable.”

MAY
23
2016

FUNDING
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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Connecting donors to your mission

By Ed Spitzberg

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the second installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a new blog series by Ed Spitzberg, Vice President of Development at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs. 

So now that you’ve leveraged the resources you have (see last month’s post), let’s talk about how to link donors to your organization.

What’s the best way to connect donors to your organization?  Well, personal relationships are important, sure. But you want long-term gifts… gifts that are tied to the organization, not any one individual. You want donors to have a relationship with the organization.

And what makes a relationship between a donor and your organization? Many things of course, but most important (and most obvious if you’ve peeked at the title of this post) is connection to your organization's mission.

So, how do you make this connection?

  • Stories about impact – Share with donors about specific kids (without identifying information, of course) who have benefited from your program. How did they participate in your program? What changes did they have in their lives after participating in your program?
  • Chance to observe program – Even better than stories: have them see your work, meet your kids and understand firsthand the impact you make.
  • Chance to participate in program – And even better than observing is participating. They can volunteer to be a mentor, serve on the board or enroll their own children. 
  • Persistently friendly communication – Make sure they know the work you do throughout the year. Call, send e-mails, etc. Persistence is good. Annoyance isn’t, so make sure you have a good feel as to where to draw the line.
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learn more about: Sustainability Community Partners
MAY
20
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Ensure your organization complies with new labor rules

By Irina Zabello

Last Wednesday, May 18, the Labor Department issued a new final rule that may have implications for your program and program staff. The Afterschool Alliance will be sharing links to the latest webinars, briefings and guidelines for the new ruling as they appear. Whether or not your organization is subject to these changes will depend on your state laws.

What are the changes?

New overtime rule

The Department of Labor has announced a final rule that will substantially increase the minimum salary requirement for certain employees to be considered exempt from overtime. The new rule takes effect December 1, 2016, and is expected to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more workers. To comply, employers may either need to raise exempt employees' salaries or reclassify affected employees as non-exempt and pay overtime when applicable.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires virtually all employers to pay most employees at least the federal minimum wage for each hour worked, as well as overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA allows for exemptions from these overtime and minimum wage requirements for certain "exempt" employees. To be considered exempt, these employees must generally satisfy specific salary and duties requirements:

  • Meet the minimum salary requirement;
  • With very limited exceptions, the employer must pay the employee their full salary in any week they perform work, regardless of the quality or quantity of the work; and
  • The employee's primary duties must meet certain criteria.
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learn more about: Sustainability
MAY
19
2016

CHALLENGE
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Amplify afterschool voices on Capitol Hill

By Robert Abare

Participants from 2014's Afterschool for All Challenge meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Next Tuesday, May 24, more than 150 afterschool advocates from across the country will descend on Capitol Hill for the 2016 Afterschool for All Challenge. This year's Challenge participants will build support for afterschool among national legislators at a critical time, as Congress prepares to determine funding levels for the only federal funding source for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers inititative.

Here's what we have planned for this year's Challenge:

Join the excitement! Take the Virtual Challenge

You can play a major role in boosting the voice of advocates visiting Congress by taking the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge in your community.

Right now, you can help the most by sending a message to your representatives, asking them to increase funding levels for 21st CCLC by $133 million for FY2017, bringing the total to $1.3 billion and allowing 140,000 additional children to access afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.

In just a single click, you can add your voice to our Thunderclap, which sends a syncronized blast of messages supporting afterschool on social media. If you're seeking a deeper way to get involved—and a lasting impact for your community—learn about setting up a site visit to your program.

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MAY
19
2016

STEM
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Webinar recap: A new vision for STEM with the Framework for K-12 Science Education

By Erin Murphy

Last month, in partnership with the Research + Practice Collaboratory, we hosted a webinar discussing the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and what it means for afterschool. The following speakers shared their expertise:

  1. Bronwyn Bevan, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Washington
  2. Katherine McNeill, Associate Professor of Science Education at Boston College
  3. Emily McLeod, Director of Curriculum at Techbridge
  4. Tracy Truzansky, Project Manager for Training at Vermont Afterschool

Bronwyn started the webinar off by introducing the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a report that articulates a new vision of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education needed for the 21st century. Its goal is to spell out exactly what all students need upon high school graduation in order to apply science to their daily life, critically consume science in the public sphere and go into the careers of their choice. Building on current research on how people best learn science, the Framework defines three key dimensions of STEM learning:

  1. Disciplinary Core Ideas: These include broad topic areas within the sciences, engineering and technology, such as chemistry, physics and earth sciences. There are fewer content areas, allowing students to delve deeper into each one.
  2. Cross-cutting themes: These themes, such as patterns, energy, and structure, connect across fields of science and are taught as part of all the disciplinary core ideas.
  3. STEM practices: These practices focus on sense-making from investigations, which entails using evidence from investigations to develop the best explanations.
MAY
18
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 18, 2016

By Luci Manning

Students Jump into Club (Norwich Bulletin, Connecticut)

Earlier this year, Sterling Community School students were treated to a visit from a jump-rope expert who inspired them to start their own afterschool jump-rope program. The students have done all the work to make the club a reality – they put together a proposal, made flyers, created permission slips and developed a schedule. Principal Shari Ternowchek said the club is a great way for students to stay healthy and build a sense of camaraderie. “It really opened the doors to the quiet, shy kids,” she told the Norwich Bulletin.

NYC Teens Head to Flint to Bring Relief to Water Crisis (Newsday, New York)

When New York City students in the YMCA’s afterschool program learned about the Flint water crisis, they decided to hold a water drive that would eventually collect 300 bottles of water and donations for filters. But for six teens, that wasn’t enough – they personally made the trek to Michigan to deliver the donations themselves. Sixteen-year-old Fahme Ibrahim’s family struggled without water after Superstorm Sandy, so he said he could relate to Flint residents as they deal with their contaminated water supply. “Knowing that Flint was out of water for a longer period of time, it was unimaginable,” he told Newsday. “I wanted to make sure we could give back.”

Future Docs Go to Cooking Class (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Medical students from Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School are trying to mitigate diseases like obesity and diabetes by bringing their medical knowledge to an afterschool cooking class in New Brunswick. RWJ encourages its students to participate in community service, and after seeing the role food choices play in many of these diseases, three students – Sally Vitez, Jaclyn Portelli Tremont and Melissa Villars – decided this was the best way they could start to treat the next generation. “With the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country, we felt an obligation, as future physicians, to try and teach kids how much the food they eat is directly related to their health,” Vitez told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The class gives students lessons in moderation and a plethora of healthy recipes to try at home.

Refuge for Refugees (Tucson Weekly, Arizona)

For two hours every Wednesday, documentary filmmaker Özlem Ayse Özgür teaches filmmaking techniques to refugee teenagers as part of the Owl and Panther Youth Film Project. The art therapy program hopes to give these students a set of valuable multimedia skills while building a community of friends and mentors for teens who may feel out of place in their new country. Over the course of the four-month program, each student creates a short self-portrait as well as a longer film about the meaning of “home.” Owl and Panther administrative manager Abby Hungwe said the program has helped students build their confidence and take on leadership roles. “I think with any work that you do with kids, the reward is seeing their growth and seeing them push through something that may have begun as a weakness and converting that into a success,” she told Tucson Weekly.

MAY
17
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Innovation Zone

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this Afterschool Spotlight, part of a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Click here to view the previous installment. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For Levi Myers, a 16-year-old 10th grader at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV, life revolves around music. He’s started bands with his friends—playing everything from punk to reggae—and he has a dream of becoming a professional music critic one day.

Levi didn’t initially think that his high school’s afterschool program, SPARC (which stands for Spartans Collective), could help him further explore his love for music. “When I first heard about the program, I thought it would be sitting around and staring at books,” he said.

One of the guitars designed by students in the Innovation Zone afterschool program.

Instead, through SPARC’s classes in guitar building, Levi found his initial assumption was far from accurate. “The guitar classes were really fun,” he said. “They also taught me about the inside mechanics of guitars, soldering, circuitry and how to get stuff done on time.”

The SPARC program is part of a larger afterschool program of Greenbrier County Public Schools, funded by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Innovation Zone program. The afterschool program, which operates at two middle school and one high school, has two focuses: academic achievement and entrepreneurship. The Innovation Zone afterschool program is in the process of seeking additional support from the federal government’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative.

The Innovation Zone program supports students’ academic achievement through tutoring, ACT and SAT preparation, and credit recovery for struggling students. Last year, 37 students successfully graduated thanks to the credit recovery and failure prevention aspects of the program.

Vicky Cline, Director of Technology and Testing for Greenbrier County Schools and a leader of the program, explained that the programs’ entrepreneurial focus allows students to discover practical ways to apply the lessons they learn in school. “The goal is for students to gain business and interpersonal skills that they can use later in life,” she said. “We want our participants to realize that they can become major contributors to West Virginia’s economy, and that they can help our community become more self-sufficient.”