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AUG
7

POLICY
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1,500 organizations from all 50 states endorse Summer Meals Act

By Erik Peterson

Photo via USDA.

As the Senate Agriculture Committee develops its child nutrition reauthorization bill, the Afterschool Alliance has joined the Food Research and Action Center and more than 1,500 national, state, and community-based organizations in calling for strengthening the Summer and Afterschool Nutrition Programs. The 1,500 groups representing every state endorsed the bipartisan Summer Meals Act (S. 613), following up on a letter sent earlier this week by out of school time provider groups to support the same legislation.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up its Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill on September 17. The Afterschool Alliance’s top priorities for reauthorization include strengthening the Summer and Afterschool Nutrition Programs and bolstering their capacity to ensure children stay well-fed and learning when school is out. The bipartisan, bicameral Summer Meals Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA), would increase access to nutritious meals when school is out by:  

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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AUG
5

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: August 5, 2015

By Luci Manning

Mailman’s Appeal to Get a Boy Books Goes Viral: Do We Need Better Access to Reading Programs? (Christian Science Monitor)

Low-income students like 12-year-old Matthew Flores often have trouble accessing books during the summer, but thanks to one man, Matthew now has enough books to last him the entire year. When Matthew told his mailman Ron Lynch that he couldn’t afford to take a bus to the library and instead resorted to fishing through a junk mail bin to find something to read, Lynch posted an appeal on Facebook to get Matthew some more appropriate reading material. In just a few days, Matthew received more than 500 books, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “If it weren’t for him I probably wouldn’t have any books right now,” Matthew said. “I’m just super happy.” He plans to read every book and donate them once he’s finished so other kids like him can keep up their reading over the summer.

Charlotte Photographer Stumps for Students’ “Inked” Exhibition (Charlotte Observer, North Carolina)

A five-year-old youth-led afterschool photography project might finally get its day in the sun thanks to the dedication of its instructor. In 2010, Mark Pendergrass taught a portrait photography class to Charlotte high school students at the YMCA, culminating in a project called “Inked: The Story Behind the Art,” featuring portraits and stories of Charlotte residents with tattoos. The project was never exhibited due to unfortunate changes in the afterschool program’s funding, but Pendergrass is now raising money to display the photos in galleries, tattoo shops and venues around the city. “This is a great opportunity for youth art to receive recognition and inspire others enduring hardships to focus on their passions,” Kevin Mitchell, a project participant turned professional photographer, told the Charlotte Observer.

Lowell Students Get the Scoop on Summer Reading (Lowell Sun, Massachusetts)

The Summer Learning Collaborative by United Way is incorporating fun literacy initiatives into Lowell summer programs to try and tackle summer learning loss – and the summer heat. Students throughout the city will get an ice cream party at the end of the summer to celebrate all the reading progress they’ve made, and one school is awarding kids one water balloon for every four books they read to hurl at a staff member of their choice. “The curriculum incorporates everything right into physical education, arts and crafts,” Community Teamwork, Inc. School Age Site coordinator Lina Iacopucci told the Lowell Sun. “They’re learning as they’re going, they’re not even realizing that it’s happening.”

412 Build’s Business Is Training Teen Entrepreneurs (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

A five-week summer program is giving teenagers the chance to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to executives at Google and other influential companies. 412 Build gives teens instruction in prototyping, market research, financial planning, urban design, welding, woodworking and 3D printing, all leading up to a culminating group project meant to improve the community. The goal is to reach students who might not have the resources or connections to have their ideas see the light of day. “We have students who don’t get these kinds of opportunities,” summer instructor Steve Fortunato told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “They get so many resources and so much networking. It’s awesome how excited they are to be here every day.” 

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learn more about: Summer Learning Arts Literacy
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AUG
5

POLICY
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National coalition calls on Congress to invest in summer and afterschool nutrition programs

By Alexis Steines

Following up on last week’s very successful social media advocacy day, several national afterschool and summer learning organizations sent a letter to Congress calling on increased investments in the summer and afterschool meal programs. The letter was signed by organizations including the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, National Afterschool Association, National Recreation and Parks Association, National Summer Learning Association and the YMCA of the USA.

The letter calls on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to back initiatives supporting the summer and afterschool meal programs during the upcoming reauthorization of the federal child nutrition programs.  Specifically, the letter asks that Congress support the bipartisan, bicameral Summer Meals Act of 2015, legislation introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA). The Summer Meals Act includes important improvements that will increase low-income children’s access to summer and afterschool meals at educational and enrichment programs, including:

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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AUG
4

LIGHTS ON
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The 2015 Lights On Afterschool poster has arrived!

By Rachel Clark

Read more about the winning artists in the Afterschool Storybook!

This spring, afterschool artists from zip codes across the country showed off their creativity by submitting impressive designs for the 2015 Lights On Afterschool poster contest. After reviewing thousands of creations with a round of staff voting and online feedback, we’re excited to unveil the winner: a team of artists from the Hicksville Boys & Girls Club in New York!

These talented artists were inspired by the incredible range of activities offered by their afterschool program, where they’re able to work on assignments for challenging Advanced Placement courses, take fun field trips to Long Island’s beautiful beaches, and explore everything from the arts to sports to science.

The winning artwork will be printed on 50,000 posters and sent to all registered Lights On Afterschool events to help get the word out about the celebration. Register your event now to receive 10 free posters!

15-year-old Zainab Ansari and 11-year-old Berlyn Tirbaniesingh, who led the effort to create the winning design, said that their goal was to showcase the many different opportunities they have accessed through their afterschool program, and we think it does a wonderful job of highlighting the diversity of the afterschool field. Whether your program offers STEM, athletics, the arts or anything in between, this design is the perfect way to promote your event and let your community know how much afterschool can do for local kids!

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learn more about: Arts
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JUL
31

IN THE FIELD
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Social media advocacy day for summer meals a huge success

By Lindsay Damiano

 
Photo via Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Yesterday, hundreds of advocates joined together on social media to send a loud, strong message to legislators: summer nutrition programs are essential.

We know that nutrition programs in schools keep children nourished and able to focus on their learning. But for many kids, summertime is anything but a relaxing break when they aren’t sure where their next meal will come from. That’s why we partnered with the YMCA, the National Recreation and Park AssociationBoys & Girls Clubs of America, the National AfterSchool Association, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Summer Learning Association and others to spread the word about the importance of reauthorizing child nutrition legislation and passing the Summer Meals Act. Summer learning and summer nutrition programs go hand-in-hand in supporting children; both deserve sustained investment.

For yesterday’s day of action, summer learning programs large and small shared what summer meals mean for the kids in their programs – and their stories were inspirational. The Texas Hunger Initiative wrote about how Canyon, Texas community organizations, from the police department to Master Gardeners, are each “adopting a week” this summer to provide enrichment activities at a new summer meals site, making sure kids’ minds are nourished as well as their bodies. The National AfterSchool Association explained that low-income children are less likely to have access to summer learning programs, where they would receive the summer meals they need and are eligible for—having summer learning and summer meals at the same site doubly benefits these underserved kids.

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learn more about: Advocacy Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning Community Partners
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JUL
31

IN THE FIELD
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This summer, every child should be able to learn and explore with summer learning programs

By Jodi Grant

It’s 2 p.m. on a hot, humid DC summer day. Like most moms, I’m busy at work, and I’m so grateful to know that while I am focusing on how to advance afterschool and summer learning opportunities for all kids, my daughters are having an incredible time, making friends and learning in a safe, supervised environment.

Finding summer programs for opinionated and active tweens and teens is no easy matter—they would be perfectly content spending the day texting and playing video games. But today’s programs are exceptional. The perfect combination of learning, youth development and fun, summer becomes a chance for my daughters to learn and explore—getting out of their comfort zones and at the same time developing relationships with other students who share their interests.

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learn more about: Science Summer Learning Arts
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JUL
30

IN THE FIELD
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Congress heads home for August recess: Time to take action for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

The time is here when Congress goes on a month-long recess and senators and representatives return to your home town eager to hear your voice. The House recess begins this week and the Senate in early August. Plan now to reach out to your Members of Congress through meetingssite visits,  emaillettersand town halls  to emphasize the need for continued federal support of afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. We give you details on these five actions to take and why to act now.

Did you know the Congress is close to completing the reauthorization of the country’s largest federal education legislation, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind?

The Senate and House both passed versions of the act, but they are not the same. The Senate version carefully included the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) which help fund afterschool programs for over 1.7 million children in low-income communities nationwide. The House version left the program out.

But, even getting language for 21st CCLC isn’t enough! Supporting low income children and working families requires funding and the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed cutting the Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative by $117 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUL
30

POLICY
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Join us in celebrating #summermeals & #summerlearning today!

By Erik Peterson

In the summer of 1993, I worked as a staff member at the DC Schools Project’s Summer Enrichment Program hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, DC. That summer (and the next), a small staff of college students and I had the absolute honor of working closely with about 100 amazing DC middle school students, for whom English was not most of the students’ first language. I have a number of memories from that summer from helping students write, direct and act in their own original play to taking them to the beach in Delaware—for most, their first time to ever visit the ocean.

While there was a lot of fun and studying during those six-hour days, what sticks out the most was lunch time. It was over lunch that I got to know the teens and they got to know and respect each other. The opportunities for mentoring and relationship-building had a tremendous impact on the students and the staff, and it was the noontime meal that broke down the barriers between staff and participants and forged those connections.

Today, the Afterschool Alliance is joining forces with the YMCA, the National Recreation and Park AssociationBoys & Girls Clubs of America, the National AfterSchool Association, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Summer Learning Association and others to celebrate the power of linking summer nutrition programs with summer learning programs. While logistics and access issues associated with these programs are not always easy for providers, we know that providing nutritious meals through the USDA Summer Food Program is a critical part of successful summer learning programs. For some young people, meals are the hook that helps them get in the door and unlocks experiences like swim lessons, reading groups and robotic teams. For others, a nourishing meal silences a grumbling tummy and helps them focus on the learning at hand.

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learn more about: Congress Federal Policy Health and Wellness Legislation Nutrition Summer Learning
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