Communities across the country are exploring new ways to keep children and youth engaged during the summer months. Not only do summer programs provide supervision in a safe environment, but they also provide innovative and creative learning opportunities that lead to important positive educational outcomes. The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC) recently conducted a symposium to discuss the impact of summer programs in its 2013 One City Summer Initiative.
What began as an anti-crime project has grown into an effective collaboration between the District of Columbia and service providers to offer coordinated summer programs, one-time activities and drop-in programming. These coordinated activities were strategically aligned with the city’s five youth outcomes: workforce development, academic achievement, healthy lifestyles, safety and structure, and strengthening families. Throughout the summer, government agencies and community-based organizations hosted 121 programs at 602 sites throughout the District of Columbia. These entities also hosted 441 community events.
This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA)reached a two year budget deal. The compromise deal restores $63 billion of the harmful sequester cuts that have resulted in decreased federal support for a variety of education opportunities for young people, including support of afterschool and summer learning programs.
The budget deal, reached after weeks of negotiations following the government shutdown in October, restores almost two-thirds of the scheduled non-defense discretionary cuts in 2014, providing $45 billion split evenly between defense and nondefense discretionary spending. For 2015 the agreement adds $18 billion, again split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary spending. The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) provides much-needed certainty for FY2014 and FY2015 and paves the way for passage of appropriations bills through regular order, rather than through continuing resolutions and crisis management. While a deal has been struck between budget committee chairs, the full Senate and House must still pass the BBA and the president must sign it into law. It's important to note that initial reaction to the deal from both parties has been positive. If the deal fails, however, a full year continuing resolution with additional sequestration cuts will be the result, likely meaning a continuation of harmful sequestration cuts that are impacting children and youth.
Center for Civil Justice, in partnership with the ConAgra Foods Foundation, has created a documentary on Federally-Funded Afterschool Meals. In the video, you'll find information on Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), Afterschool Meals (CACFP), and Summer Meals (SFSP):
The newly-released School Improvement Grants (SIG) analysis and assessment data shows that schools receiving such grants have increased proficiency rates in math and reading since the program was implemented two years ago. The SIG Program is a major component of the Department of Education’s game plan to help turn around the nation’s lowest performing schools. SIG funds are awarded by state education agencies to local education agencies to close, transform, restart or turn around low performing schools. Afterschool is mentioned in Department of Education guidance as part of turnaround and transformational strategies.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan commented on the progress and said “To build on this success in our disadvantaged communities, we must expand the most effective practices to accelerate progress for students and prepare them for success in college and careers.”
So what are some of these effective practices? Of the three programs highlighted in the department’s press release two weeks ago, two grantees used expanded learning time within school and/or afterschool programs within their turnaround plans. Using SIG funds for expanded learning time ensures other funding streams like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative can support afterschool, summer learning and before-school programs.
By Jen Rinehart
I’m not much of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper. But the one purchase I did make over the Thanksgiving weekend was putting a deposit down toward my daughter’s summer program. Her afterschool program heeded the advice of the National Summer Learning Association, the Wallace Foundation and others by starting their summer planning early and offering parents an incentive to sign up now so that the program can effectively continue to plan and be ready when school lets out for the summer.
A report released by the Wallace Foundation earlier this year, Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success, provides summer learning programs with research-based strategies to help them effectively meet the needs of kids and families. A key practice in the report is that summer learning programs should start planning at least six months early—for most programs that means planning should be underway right about now. The recommended practices—which were covered in a previous Afterschool Snack post—focus on:
Please allow us a moment to toot our own horn a little bit.
One of the Afterschool Alliance’s core beliefs is that afterschool programs are essential for supporting working families. We believe that when children are safe, supported and learning, working parents are free to focus on the workplace, helping them to be more successful, and in turn, helping to create a better situation for the whole family.
Throughout the Afterschool Alliance’s 14 year history, we have remained committed to working families, including those on our own staff. That’s why we’re thrilled and honored to announce that the Afterschool Alliance has been recognized by Washingtonian magazine as one of the best places to work in Washington, D.C.
Washingtonian magazine named the Afterschool Alliance a ‘small gem’ as part of its "50 Great Places to Work" issue for the Washington, D.C., metro area. The bi-annual issue on the best places to work in the D.C.-area states that “staffers at this DC nonprofit, which supports afterschool programs, feel challenged and recognized and love the warm culture.”
Last night Congress passed a bill based on an agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that ended the the 16-day federal government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling, avoiding an international economic crisis.
After 16 days of the vast majority of the Federal workforce at home (90 percent of the Department of Education was furloughed), the bill reopens the government by providing funding through Jan. 15, 2014, at last year’s levels. For key federal funding that supports afterschool and summer learning programs, like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), the bill means funding at last year’s levels despite increasing program costs and growing demand for quality afterschool programs. The agreement also leaves in place the sequester, which is expected to result in an additional 7.2 percent cut to federal non-defense discretionary programs on Jan. 15. Education advocates are hopeful that the conference committee established by the agreement will address the pending sequester cut. A final budget for FY2014 will have to be negotiated, voted on and signed by the president before the funding runs out on Jan. 15.
STEM, child care & federal policy filled the agenda when state afterschool networks came to Washington
Late last month, leaders from more than 40 state afterschool networks, including representatives from state education agencies, gathered for several days in Washington, D.C., for a national convening: “Expanded Learning Opportunities: STEM Programs and Systems.”
The convening, co-hosted by the Department of Education, the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, focused on creating positive STEM outcomes for more students through collaboration and cooperation among national, state and local partners. Sessions allowed network leaders and education officials to work together to consider how to leverage investments and actions to expand the availability of quality informal science in afterschool and impact more students across the country.
Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton opened the conference with a well-received talk on the partnerships necessary to generate the best possible STEM outcomes in young people. Stating that learning occurring after school is just as essential as learning taking place during the school day, the deputy secretary demonstrated his understanding of the depth and power of informal STEM education occurring in quality afterschool programs.