By Rachel Clark
21st century skills like critical thinking and perseverance are in high demand in today’s workforce—but executives report a severe gap between the skills they need and the skills workers have. New findings from the Afterschool & STEM System Building Evaluation 2016, previewed today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., demonstrate that afterschool programs play a vital role in closing the gap by helping students develop the skills to succeed in school, work, and life.
Supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM Next, the study surfaced several key findings that illustrate the potential for afterschool to prepare students for future success:
- 72 percent of students reported an increase in their perseverance and critical thinking skills
- 73 percent reported an increase in their personal belief that they can succeed at science
- 78 percent reported a positive change in their interest in science
- 80 percent reported a positive gain in their science career knowledge
Check out findings from the study in the new “STEM Ready America” compendium, alongside articles from 40 experts and thought leaders in the out-of-school time and STEM learning spaces—and stay tuned for the release of the full study later this month.
By Luci Manning
Students in the Fremont County School District have improved their performance on key academic assessments, thanks in part to a new series of reading, math and afterschool programs. The schools’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers program aims to improve graduation rates and to combat alcohol abuse, while a special committee to improve academic performance in the district funds swimming lessons, recreation programs and more. “We give our students the opportunity to succeed, and they shall,” school district Board of Trustees chair Charlene Gambler-Brown told the Riverton Ranger.
Students from the Anderson Girls and Boys Club helped educate the public about African American culture at a special Black History Month program this week. The event featured individual and group performances from several Girls and Boys Club members and groups, and was attended by Mayor Thomas Broderick and other city leaders. “The importance of this is for our youth to learn about our history and our culture,” afterschool program director Larry McClendon told the Anderson Herald Bulletin.
A San Diego afterschool program helped a young homeless girl nurture her artistic talent in a journey that led her all the way to the Academy Awards. Four years ago, then 16-year-old Inocente Izucar won an Oscar for best documentary short for a film based on her own life as a young woman who used art to create an alternate reality free of abuse, homelessness and poverty, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. She now produces films and sells her artwork, but always makes time to visit A Reason to Survive (ARTS), the afterschool program that helped her thrive and helps other youth cope with adversity through painting and other artistic endeavors.
World champion figure skater Meryl Davis may not be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but she is nurturing the next generation of young figure skaters. Figure Skating in Detroit is a new program inspired by former skater Sasha Cohen’s program of the same name in Harlem, meant to inspire young girls of color to learn to skate and find their passion in life. The program will provide free skates, equipment and training for 300 girls in its first year through introductory workshops, a summer day camp and a year-round afterschool program. “The program will help expose young girls of color, who may not have traveled much further beyond their neighborhood, to skating, education and leadership,” director Geneva Williams told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s about girl power.”
By Rachel Clark
By Meg Gneiting, Marketing Manager at BOOST Collaborative. "Barbara Boxer Keynote Announcement: BOOST Conference 2017" was originally published on the BOOST Breakfast Club Blog.
It is with great pleasure that we announce the 2017 BOOST Conference Keynote Speaker, former Sen. Barbara Boxer!
BOOST Collaborative and the Afterschool Alliance invite you to join us in honoring Sen. Barbara Boxer at this year's BOOST Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, will be presenting Sen. Boxer with an OSTI (Out of-School Time Innovations) Award on Wednesday, April 19, followed by a keynote address, audience Q&A, and book signing.
Schedule: April 19, 2017
- 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: OSTI Award, keynote, audience Q&A
- 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Meet the authors, meet & greet, book signing
Be sure to purchase your keynote book today! Log in to your online account to add or call us at 619-23-BOOST (619-232-6678).
About Barbara Boxer
A forceful advocate for families, children, consumers, the environment and her State of California, Barbara Boxer became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives and six years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors. In January 2017, she stepped down after four terms in the Senate.
A champion of quality public education, Senator Boxer wrote landmark legislation establishing the first-ever federal funding for afterschool programs. Her law now covers 1.6 million children. She worked tirelessly to expand afterschool programs nationwide as chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus.
A strong supporter of the 1994 crime bill, she has worked to fund anti-gang programs, pass the Violence Against Women Law (VAWA), and the Community Policy "COPS" Program. Her bill to prevent the criminal use of personal information obtained through motor vehicle records was signed into law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
About the BOOST Conference
The BOOST Conference will take place April 18-21, 2017, in Palm Springs, Calif. The deadline to register for the BOOST Conference is March 24, 2017.
|At left, Sen. Tim Scott speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photograph by Gage Skidmore. At right, Sen. Cory Booker speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Photograph courtesy Sen. Booker's office.|
Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the “Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act” to the 115th Congress on February 15. The act provides employers with tax credits of up to $1,500 for each eligible apprentice they hire under the program.
Both Scott and Booker have professed deep interests in engaging youth. At Restoring the American Dream, an event hosted by Opportunity Nation on the day of the bill’s release, Scott and Booker spoke to the need to connect youth with opportunities.
“Too often, especially with young people, we tend to look down to the lowest level of expectation,” Scott said.
“It’s not the wealth of our wealthiest that makes our nation great. It’s how we provide pathways for every single child," Booker said. "My father was born poor, segregated environment, single mom…(but the) people who came into his life gave him a little bit of love, a little bit of support, a little bit of a hand up.”
Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) also spoke at the event, saying she felt a responsibility for helping people to “realize where the opportunities are” and “plug in.”
These efforts show impressive results. The organization Year Up participated in a panel at the event to discuss its one-year post-high school program model that pairs six months of technical and professional skill building with a six-month internship. Research show 85 percent of Year Up participants find full-time employment, with an average starting wage of $18 an hour.
Connecting students to opportunities to practice professional skills and gain work experience is a practice familiar to afterschool programs across the country. Training and experience are valuable across age categories. The people, businesses, programs, governments, and systems that recognize the value of these youth and connect them to opportunities and skills continue to see great returns—economic, social, relational—over and over again.
By Maria Leyva
Greetings, everyone! I am Maria Leyva, the new Development Operations Associate at the Afterschool Alliance. What a privilege it is to join such a stellar team. I will be working alongside passionate and dedicated individuals to advance the importance of afterschool and summer enrichment programs.
My interest and background in afterschool and summer programs stem from my own experience as a working parent. Thanks to afterschool and summer programs, my kids not only received homework help but were also exposed to music, interactive science activities, sign language, theater, comedy improv, and so much more. So yes indeed, we must work together to support the critical work of the afterschool programs that nurture and strengthen our kids while supporting working families.
Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, I oversaw the development activities at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ). This included grant writing, prospects tracking and research, and maintaining and nurturing foundation relations. In my time with CHEJ, I helped launch its annual fundraiser event, which convened a record-breaking number of supporters. Additionally, teamwork and diligence paid off when we secured the largest grant in CHEJ’s history. Prior to CHEJ, I held various positions with organizations including the county health department in Phoenix, Ariz.; Concilio Latino de Salud, a nonprofit agency dedicated to Hispanic health promotion; and the National Council of La Raza here in Washington, D.C.
As the Afterschool Alliance Development Operations Associate, I will work in collaboration with all staff to support the progress and timely submission of all foundation and corporate grant reports. Additionally, in collaboration with the Director of Development, I’ll be doing outreach and follow up to prospective donors, develop grant applications, and maintain a fundraising tracking system. Other priorities will be to research and identify new donor prospects while continuing to educate funders and the broader community about the value of afterschool and summer programs. I look forward to collaborating with everyone and contributing to the strong and steady growth of the Afterschool Alliance.
By Rachel Clark
By Thomas James, Community Outreach and Communications Coordinator for the Out-of-School Time Programs division of DC Public Schools. This blog post is adapted from a longer article on SEL that you can find here.
As many of us in the afterschool field are well aware, youth that participate in high-quality afterschool programs develop a wide array of critical skills that are imperative to become a productive citizen. Skills like self-control, critical thinking, and collaboration—sometimes referred to as social and emotional learning (SEL)—are gaining prominence in the education policy world. This type of learning significantly impacts the life skills and outcomes of youth.
Yet, when trying to address and incorporate these skills into afterschool programming, it can often seem daunting. In this post I will try to shed light on a variety of tactics and strategies that are proven to enhance the development of social and emotional skills in youth.
In order to help youth develop these skills, afterschool professionals can use a wide range of strategies to encourage social and emotional development, including:
- Student-program leader(s) dialogue with a focus on content relative to what students are seeing and learning
- Chance for students to elaborate on their own thinking as well as the thoughts they hear coming from their peers
- Active and direct instruction
- Comes in many different forms, including group projects and playing educational games
On February 15, the House of Representatives held a subcommittee hearing on “Providing Vulnerable Youth the Hope of a Brighter Future Through Juvenile Justice Reform.” Chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), the hearing included testimony from four witnesses, Meg Williams of the Colorado Department of Public Safety; Chief Patrick J. Flannelly of the Lafayette Police Department in Indiana; the Honorable Denise Navaree Cubbon, Administrative Judge in Lucas County, Ohio; and Matt Reed, executive director of the YMCA in Louisville, Ky.
Witnesses discussed ways to reform the country’s juvenile justice system to promote safe communities and set at-risk youth on the pathway to success. The press release for the event tells the story of a young person’s changed trajectory as a result of preventative intervention:
Mr. Reed’s testimony discussed his work with at-risk youth for more than 20 years. He said effective and evidence-based solutions play an important role in keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system. Reed shared the story of 12-year-old Cassidy, who grew up in a troubled home where drug dealing and usage often occurred. In the summer of 2012, as a freshman in high school, Cassidy was arrested after her home was raided by law enforcement. “[Cassidy’s] mom had refused to give up any of the dealers, choosing instead to pin it on Cassidy,” Reed said. “She watched her daughter taken off in handcuffs.”
As the charges were resolved, Cassidy went into the YMCA’s shelter program and soon moved in with her grandparents. She began working with a case manager at the YMCA’s Safe Place—spending several months in counseling and at family team meetings. Cassidy also participated in community service at the YMCA and committed herself to extra tutoring. As a result of these efforts, her life began to improve. “Cassidy received her high school diploma in August of 2014,” Reed said, explaining the value of community-based programs. “She indeed went to college and is enrolled today at the University of Louisville.”
The House hearing is seen as a step toward the 115th Congress passing reauthorized and updated Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) legislation, which saw a near miss in the 114th Congress when a JJDPA bill—which included updates supporting the preventative and restorative roles afterschool and community-based programming like YMCAs can play in youth development—passed the House, but did not pass the Senate.
The Senate will be holding its own committee hearing on the JJDPA legislation, “Improving Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,” on Tuesday, February 28.
By Luci Manning
Students in a STEAM-focused afterschool program recently used their skills to give back to those in need in their community. Middle school students in the SHINE afterschool program made blankets by double-knotting strips of fabric, and then donated the finished products to Ruth’s Place, a temporary shelter for homeless women. “It was a chance to do something with friends and to do something for other people,” 13-year-old Rita Palchanis told the Times-Leader. The blanket donation was the first part of the program’s new community service initiative called “Giving Back through Engineering.”
Adults and children are pairing up to learn about science as part of the new Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center Mentoring Program, an offshoot of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia. Through the program, 33 adult “bigs” are paired with “littles” to perform science experiments, work on art projects and spend time bonding and learning from each other. Mentors act as positive role models for the youths while maintaining a friendly, casual relationship. “We do experiments a lot in science [class], but not like this,” 12-year-old Jaseph Cagas told the Roanoke Times.
While building things out of Legos and playing computer games may seem like plain fun, students in the Zaniac science and technology program are actually picking up valuable engineering and technical skills in their afterschool sessions. The program stresses hands-on experience and peer-based learning to engage young people in STEM subjects. “We try to give kids that opportunity, not teach in a lecture-based environment where we stand at the front of the class,” Zaniac franchise development manager Zane Brandt told the Deseret News. “Put something in their hands that may be too advanced for them and let them learn as they play.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is building on the pre-kindergarten and community schools plan he launched last year with a new Out-of-School Time Initiative, which he announced last Thursday with Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis and School Superintendent William Hite Jr. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the initiative will be rolled out over several years, funded both by the city and partnerships with the school district and philanthropic foundations. The program aspires to involve all 250,000 students in the city in out-of-school time programs over the next seven years. The initiative will focus on literacy for kindergarten through third-grade students and workforce development for ninth- through twelfth-graders.