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NOV
19

POLICY
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Texas publishes statewide plan for expanded learning opportunities

By Sophie Papavizas

The Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Council was established by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in order to improve quality and access to expanded learning opportunities in the state, including afterschool and summer programs. On November 1, the ELO Council published its first report, 2016-2017 Statewide Strategic Plan for Expanded Learning Opportunities, with the support of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST). In the report, the council states that “high-quality ELO programs provide safe places, support economic growth, and help close the academic achievement gap by offering supplemental activities that support but do not replicate the general education program.”

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learn more about: Advocacy Extended Day State Networks State Policy Summer Learning Youth Development
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NOV
10

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Inclusive Out-of-School Time

By Nikki Yamashiro

This blog post was originally published on the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability’s (NCHPAD) blog, which promotes information sharing around increased participation in physical activity among people of all abilities.  Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, executive director of the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN), is a contributing author to this blog post and works to raise the profile of the OST field in New York and strengthen OST programs across the state, including promoting the importance of inclusion of youth with disabilities in afterschool, expanded learning, and out-of-school time opportunities.  For additional information regarding afterschool programs providing an inclusive environment where students of all abilities can learn and grow side-by-side, read “Afterschool Supporting Students with Disabilities and Other Special Needs,” a joint issue brief by MetLife Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance.

The purpose of this article is to promote inclusion of youth with disabilities in after-school, expanded learning, and out-of-school time programs. For the purposes of this article, the term “include” and “inclusion” embodies the values, policies, and practices that support all youth, those both with and without disabilities, to participate in a broad range of out-of-school time activities.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Equity Guest Blog Issue Briefs State Networks
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OCT
27

LIGHTS ON
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A million people rallied to keep the lights on after school

By Sarah Simpson

On the heels of the new America After 3PM study that found that, despite rapid growth in afterschool participation, 1 in 5 children in the United States is unsupervised in the afternoons, students, parents, educators, community leaders, policy makers, business leaders and others rallied for afterschool programs on Thursday as part of the 15th annual Lights On Afterschool. The only nationwide rally for afterschool programs included more than 8,100 events in every corner of the country, and at U.S. military bases worldwide to highlight the many ways quality afterschool programs support children, families and communities.

America After 3PM found that there is huge unmet demand for afterschool programs; the parents of 19.4 million students said they would enroll their child, if an afterschool program were available. In response, in classrooms, community centers, science museums, parks and recreation centers, malls and other settings, more than one million people came together to celebrate and support the quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool Voices Events and Briefings Inside the Afterschool Alliance State Networks Community Partners
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OCT
16

RESEARCH
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Which states made the top 10 list for afterschool?

By Nikki Yamashiro

A huge congratulations to California, D.C., Florida, Vermont, Massachusetts, Arizona, Oregon, Nebraska, Tennessee and Hawaii for making America After 3PM’s “Top 10 States for Afterschool”! 
 
These states made the list because they have some combination of strong afterschool participation rates, high parent satisfaction with their child’s afterschool program, and low rates of children who are alone and unsupervised after school.  For example, California, which secured the number one spot, has an afterschool program participation rate of 25 percent, third highest in the nation, and a participation rate higher than the national average of 18 percent.  America After 3PM also found that the Golden State has strong parent satisfaction when it comes to their child’s afterschool program.  Nine in 10 California parents are satisfied with their child’s afterschool program and 92 percent are satisfied with the program’s quality of care.  
 
There are a handful of familiar states that were on the top 10 list from our 2009 edition of America After 3PM, but there are also a few newcomers to list, including Washington, D.C.  This is the first time in the three rounds of America After 3PM that we were able to report on the District of Columbia.  
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learn more about: America After 3PM Education Reform Media Outreach State Networks State Policy
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JUL
1

IN THE FIELD
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Summer: a time to make, play and connect

By Jen Rinehart

At the first-ever White House Maker Faire, Pres. Obama proclaimed June 18, 2014, a National Day of Making, saying, "I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills."

At the White House, a robotic giraffe, cupcake bicycles, a banana piano, homemade 3-D printers and 3-D printed pancakes, fiddles and more were all on display with the goal of inspiring makers across the country. 

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Summer to Make, Play & Connect will keep that inspiration going throughout the summer.  As part of the Summer to Make, Play & Connect, Mozilla’s Maker Party 2014—a campaign to teach Web literacy on a global scale through hands-on learning and making—will feature two months of hands-on making. 

From July 15 through Sept. 15, educators and makers will host “learning parties” in schools, libraries, museums and community centers.  Maker Party events feature people of all ages who are learning to code, making stop-motion animations, designing games, creating digital stories, fabricating wearable technologies, remixing websites, and so much more. Participants gain valuable Web literacy skills as they learn about the basic culture, mechanics and citizenship of the Web.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Events and Briefings Obama State Networks Summer Learning Youth Development Community Partners
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JUN
30

FUNDING
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New mini-grants are supporting digital badges in five states

By Nikki Yamashiro

Congratulations to the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance, the Maryland Out of School Time NetworkOregonASK, the Michigan After-School Partnership and the Ohio Afterschool Network for being awarded mini-grants of $10,000 to pilot digital badge projects in their states! 

Over the course of the next year, these five statewide afterschool networks will pilot new badge systems to offer digital badges to youth in afterschool and summer programs and/or offer digital badges to afterschool professionals.  

At the Afterschool Alliance, every day we hear stories of the range of activities and learning experiences students participating in afterschool programs are exposed to.  For instance, hands-on activities—such as creating and testing computer simulations of how a disease might spread; learning about health and wellness, as well as environmental science, through the cultivation of a community vegetable garden; and developing leadership skills through group projects that focus on collaboration and effective communication.  We also continuously review research demonstrating the multitude of positive outcomes associated with regular participation in quality afterschool programs. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Inside the Afterschool Alliance State Networks
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JUN
30

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Statewide afterschool networks building badge ecosystems

By Nikki Yamashiro

Ellie Mitchell is director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), a statewide youth development organization dedicated to more and better opportunities in the out of school hours for all of Maryland’s young people.

 

The afterschool field has long embraced the idea that learning happens all the time and in many different settings and environments.  We constantly seek new ways to capture, share, encourage and reward the learning that happens outside of the school day and school year.  The growing Open Digital Badges movement offers an innovative, technology-based tool to make visible the learning and skill development happening in afterschool and summer programs.  The SmithsonianProvidence After School Alliance and the Chicago Summer of Learning provide excellent pioneering examples of how to use digital badges for engagement and recognition with young people in the out-of-school-time space. 

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog State Networks
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JUN
29

STEM
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Supporting Afterschool STEM Act introduced to support technical assistance for afterschool providers

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has introduced a bill aimed at providing the supports afterschool practitioners need to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.  Titled the Supporting Afterschool STEM ActS.2543 will create a grant program that state and regional afterschool and STEM networks can tap into to help afterschool providers in their area give students engaging and high-quality STEM learning experiences. 

As STEM programming grows in afterschool settings, the need for technical assistance and professional development is also rising.  However, most funding is usually allocated to develop and implement programs.  This important legislation recognizes the need to provide resources that will help afterschool practitioners with their professional development and quality improvement efforts. 

The Supporting Afterschool STEM Act authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award three-year grants to existing afterschool or STEM networks, with 20 percent of all funding reserved to develop new afterschool or STEM networks in states or regions where they don't yet exist.  This bill will enable afterschool networks as well as STEM networks to provide the infrastructure needed for supporting high-quality afterschool STEM programs regionally.  It rightly draws on existing networks and their experience and expertise to assist new and existing afterschool STEM programs and increase the effectiveness of existing federal investments.  The effort would help afterschool programs nationwide develop activities and programming that works in other communities in their state.  The bill also encourages mentorship between students and federal STEM research grantees, and provides hands-on learning and exposure to STEM research facilities for young people.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Funding Legislation Science State Networks Sustainability
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