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NOV
7
2016

STEM
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New partnership will advance afterschool STEM policies

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The Afterschool Alliance is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Overdeck Family Foundation to advance afterschool STEM policy. We will be working with the statewide afterschool networks to achieve this goal, as many networks are already engaged in advancing afterschool STEM learning opportunities in their states. This new project will help us amplify our support to the state afterschool networks so they can advocate for a strong role for afterschool programs in their state’s ESSA implementation plans. 

The Overdeck partnership also allows us to support a smaller subset of statewide afterschool networks to deepen their work on advancing policies to support afterschool STEM programming via state level initiatives. We are thrilled to announce that we made awards to the following organizations for this initiative:

These six state networks demonstrated that the policy environment in their states is conducive for advancing afterschool STEM. We are partnering with the STEM Education Coalition, an influential national advocacy group for STEM education, to provide technical assistance to the statewide afterschool networks for this project. Through this collaboration, we will be providing regular STEM policy updates to the networks and working with them to provide tailored resources, such as the recent set of advocacy resources for afterschool/informal STEM. We will also broker partnerships between the Coalition’s members and state afterschool advocates, an often stated need of the networks. We are anticipating that these new partnerships will bring new influential STEM allies and voices into the afterschool conversation.

We are excited about this project and look forward to supporting the afterschool field with strong policies that will provide young people with greater access to high-quality afterschool STEM programming.

NOV
4
2016

LIGHTS ON
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This program used Lights On Afterschool to shine a light on health and wellness

By Robert Abare

For the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles (BGCELA), encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles goes hand-in-hand with the other areas of the organization’s mission: building students’ academic success and developing their character. For Lights On Afterschool 2016, BGCELA celebrated its achievements in keeping kids healthy by embracing a fun and unusual theme: bubbles.

BGCELA hosted a community 5K “Bubble Run” for Lights On Afterschool last month, providing a fun outlet for kids, their families, and local celebrities to get active while celebrating the importance of health and wellness education. Participants in the Bubble Run walked or jogged through mountains of bubbles at various checkpoints along the run, where local radio stations also filled the air with their music.

Happy memories lead to lifelong healthy habits

“It basically looked like a washing machine exploded,” said Anna Araujo, Executive Director of BGCELA and former Afterschool Ambassador. “We wanted to use this event to make healthy habits as fun and interactive for the kids as possible. That way, we give kids happy memories related to healthy activities, and those practices become lifelong habits.”

The event was emceed by Peter Daut, a local news anchor, and celebrity appearances were made by Luis Guzman of Code Black, Boxer Victor Ortiz, DJ Cece The Mamacita of KDAY, telenovela actor Adriana Fonseca, singer Miguelilto and actor Anthony “Citric” Campos of The George Lopez Show.

In keeping with the theme, kids also played “Bubble Soccer” at BGCELA’s Lights On Afterschool event, thanks to a local vendor. A local Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fitness program also led the event’s warm up activities, and various vendors offered samples of healthy foods and drinks (and water was provided at no cost).

Boxer Victor Ortiz races with singer Miguelito. Actor Luis Guzman signs a student's Bubble Run t-shirt.
NOV
3
2016

POLICY
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A new grant program in ESSA is an opportunity for afterschool STEM and more

By Anita Krishnamurthi

President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new education law of the land, established a number of new, flexible funding streams that states and districts can employ to support afterschool programs. One of these is the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program (SSAE), in the law's Title IV Part A. 

Late last month, the US Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance on the SSAE grant program to help states, districts and schools provide students with a more well-rounded education. ESSA authorized $1.65 billion annually for this program (though Congress is debating the final funding level), which will provide funding to every state and district to support well-rounded learning opportunities with a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, as well as learning technologies and programs that keep students safe and healthy. The SSAE grants program is intended to be distributed by formula to districts, according to the following stipulations:

  • Ninety-five percent of the funds will flow to school districts, to be spent largely at their discretion, with the remaining 5 percent reserved for state-level activities. 
  • Every district will receive at least $10,000 through the program, and those receiving more than $30,000 in federal funds under the program (all but the smallest school districts will likely cross this threshold) must devote 20 percent to “well-rounded” learning activities, which include a large variety of STEM activities.

There are a nubmer of activities specifically authorized under ESSA and detailed in the new Department of Education guidance for the SSAE grants program that are helpful for afterschool STEM.

Opportunities for afterschool STEM in the SSAE grant program

  • “Facilitating collaboration among school, afterschool program, and informal program personnel to improve the integration of programming and instruction in the identified [STEM] subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(v)]
  • “Providing hands-on learning and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and supporting the use of field-based or service learning to enhance the students’ understanding of the STEM subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(iii)]
  • “Supporting the participation of low-income students in nonprofit competitions related to STEM subjects (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions)” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(ii)]
  • “Activities and programs to support student access to, and success in, a variety of well-rounded education experiences” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(J)]

The guidance issued last month also provides specific program examples that will help school districts and local communities better navigate these opportunities included in the law.

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learn more about: Education Reform ESEA Federal Policy
NOV
3
2016

FUNDING
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This grant could support your program's socially conscious art project

By Elizabeth Tish

The Puffin Foundation West seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and voices often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy. To achieve that goal, the organization offers grants for arts projects that discuss a wide range of social and civil justice issues. 

A grant from Puffin Foundation West could provide valuable support to an afterschool program seeking to inform the local community about an important issue through the arts. Issues that could be addressed include food insecurity, peace, prisons, discrimination, race, culture, sexual orientation, trafficking, global warming, environmental protection, nuclear proliferation, poverty, gender issues, racial profiling, immigration, bullying, violence in schools, homelessness, gun control, animal rights, and more.

2016 Puffin grantees included the following:

  • ArtSparks is a nonprofit that sends professional teams of dance instructors and musicians to work with 900 third grade students in the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton City, Ohio school districts.
  • The Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition’s (MCC) Changing Minds Campaign raises positive visibility of the accomplishments of people who have mental illness. Each year, the MCC holds a celebration at the Massachusetts State House in Boston to recognize companies for taking action to diversify their workforce by hiring people who have mental illness.
  • Columbus Dance Theatre offers full or partial scholarship classes to young men and boys in central Ohio, in an effort to encourage the development of men in dance. Classes consist of ballet, fitness training, modern dance, jazz, partnering, and repertoire.
  • Play Us Forward seeks to overcome the socioeconomic barriers in learning how to play the violin by providing instruction and instruments at no cost to the student or student’s family.

You can find the full list of grantees on the Puffin Foundation West website. You must be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States to be eligible for the award, and must be applying for a project in the United States.

NOV
2
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 2, 2016

By Luci Manning

Mentor Programs Steer Teens Away from Gangs (Associated Press, Oregon)

A community-wide coalition is aiming to keep youth from joining gangs through a variety of activities, including sports, art, spirituality and bicycle building. The Jackson County Gang Prevention Task Force includes law enforcement, educators, afterschool programs, nonprofit organizations and others who believe that stopping gang violence takes a whole community, not just the police, according to the Associated Press. “The only way to fight gangs is in the community and the police working together to beat this,” former gang member and Familia Unida volunteer Rico Gutierrez said. “The community has to be involved. Police can’t do it alone.”

Time to Jam: Kids Rock at After-School Program (Bland County Messenger, Virginia)

Students in a weekly afterschool program are learning to play fiddle, banjo, mountain dulcimer and other instruments traditional to Southern Appalachian music. Washington County JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) teaches 50 fourth- through eighth-grade students music skills and gives them a chance to explore and appreciate other aspects of Appalachian culture, such as clogging, square dancing, quilting and more. “We strive to expose the children to music and traditions of our area they may not pursue on their own,” coordinator Tammy Martin told the Bland County Messenger. The program is in its second year and has nearly twice the number of participants.

When Girls Teach Girls, They Unleash a New Power (Miami Herald, Florida)

In an effort to empower young girls from underserved communities, a host of nonprofits and community organizations are providing afterschool and mentoring opportunities at a number of Miami schools. A 13-year old Girl Scout is teaching younger girls how to code and assemble robots. The Embrace Girls Foundation is giving homework assistance and life-skills training at afterschool programs in three local schools, as well as a culinary program, tennis club and more. And the Honey Shine mentoring program provides mentoring and instruction in robotics, STEM, digital and financial literacy and more. “We teach the girls self-empowerment, character development, self-love and etiquette,” Honey Shine program manager Millie Delgado told the Miami Herald. “We empower young girls to shine as women.”

Grooming International Leaders While Helping Camden’s Kids (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

For more than 25 years, UrbanPromise has worked to bolster leaders in international communities and build educational and youth development programs in America's cities and in foreign countries. The fellowship program brings community leaders from Uganda, Haiti and more to Camden schools and afterschool programs to help children break down prejudices. UrbanPromise also helps these fellows develop programs they can take back to their home countries to support youths there. “What we’re doing is supporting and resourcing young leaders to go home and make change,” UrbanPromise International School of Leadership Nadia VanderKuip told the Philadelphia Inquirer

NOV
1
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Evaluating afterschool: Evaluation as a mission-driven investment

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the second installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which turns to program providers in the field to answer some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the first post of the series, which explores evaluation lessons from Dallas Afterschool.

This post is written by Jason Spector, senior research & evaluation manager for After-School All-Stars, a national afterschool program serving more than 70,000 low-income, at-risk students across 11 states and the District of Columbia.

The After-School All-Stars of South Florida celebrated Lights On Afterschool 2016 with the Miami Marlins.

I recently left a meeting thinking I’m no longer doing the job I was hired to do. But for a professional evaluator of afterschool programs, change is a good thing.

When I joined After-School All-Stars (ASAS) to launch our national evaluation department two and a half years ago, my primary goal was to measure and support ASAS’ outcomes as the organization entered into an expansion phase. While I currently maintain this responsibility, our national evaluation team is now focused on examining program quality as opposed to outcomes measurement. Why the change? Simply put, we realized our top priority was to boost our quality, because when we do, the impact and outcomes will follow. 

This type of a shift is not an easy decision for a nonprofit to make. As nonprofits move toward more advanced outcomes measurements to satisfy increasingly savvy funders, leaders everywhere are faced with some critical questions:

  1. Should I deepen my organization’s investment in evaluation?
  2. What can I expect to receive in return?

These questions carry an assumption that an investment in evaluation is inherently not an investment in your organization’s mission and programs. Furthermore, many program leaders assume that evaluations must yield large positive outcomes in order to attract new funders and compensate for the “cost” of not putting dollars directly into program operations. But this logic fails to consider the many benefits evaluations afford organizations. 

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learn more about: Evaluations Guest Blog
OCT
31
2016

STEM
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Learn to make the case for STEM learning with FrameWorks Institute

By Elizabeth Tish

Do you think afterschool programs are a great place to engage kids in learning about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Do you have trouble sometimes convincing others to share your enthusiasm for teaching kids STEM after school?

If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, the FrameWorks Institute has an online course for you. Making the Case for STEM Learning provides afterschool providers and professionals with the most comprehensive understanding of the Frameworks Institute's communications research on how the American public thinks about STEM education and out-of-school time learning. This research helps afterschool STEM advocates ensure they are using the most effective arguments when seeking to boost funding, support or participation for afterschool STEM programs. 

This course is accessible at no cost through March 2017, so go check it out today!

Looking for additional resources?

Visit the Afterschool STEM Hub to access talking points, PowerPoint slides, infographics, and more to help you tell a compelling story and inspire enthusiasm for STEM in afterschool. You can also view two additional FrameWorks Academy courses to dive deeper into strategies for telling thematic stories, or how to use social math to explain afterschool STEM. 

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learn more about: Advocacy Digital Learning Science
OCT
27
2016

FUNDING
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The Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award is back!

By Nikki Yamashiro

We are so excited to announce the return of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award!  With the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance is once again looking for stellar afterschool programs that provide students with integral literacy learning opportunities to develop their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. This year, the focus of the award is on English language learners and the ways afterschool programs ensure that these students have the reading and writing abilities they need to thrive.

Nominations for the $10,000 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award are now open.  Here are three tips to help you get started:

  1. Download a PDF version of the nomination form to review the questions ahead of time and see what information you need gather on the program you are nominating.

  2. Send us any questions you have about the award and/or nomination form that we can answer during our upcoming webinar on Nov. 10, "What Reviewers Want: Insights on Nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award."

  3. Tune in for the webinar on Nov. 10, where we’ll cover the qualities of a promising nomination form and common critiques of past nomination submissions from people who have been involved in the review process.

Nominations are due by December 16, 2016

Be sure to share this opportunity with your friends and colleagues! We’re looking forward to reading about the great work supporting English language learner students that is taking place in afterschool programs across the country.