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SEP
29
2016

LIGHTS ON
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Senate passes unanimous resolution in support of Lights On Afterschool 2016

By Robert Abare

Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in commemoration of the 17th annual celebration of Lights On Afterschool. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) praised the passage of the resolution, which recognizes the only national celebration of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, insipring them to learn and helping working families.

"I am so pleased that the Senate recognizes the importance of high-quality afterschool programs,” said Senator Boxer. “These programs help keep our children safe, improve student performance and enrich our kids’ education with activities like music, art, sports and so much more.”

“Afterschool programs provide an enriching environment for students once the school day has ended,” said Senator Collins. “By engaging young people in academic and physical activities, these programs enhance students’ education and help promote healthy habits. In addition, afterschool programs provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and structured setting.”

This resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Al Franken (D-MN).

Senator Boxer authored legislation in 2001 that lead to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Last year, Senator Boxer’s Afterschool for America’s Children Act was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by President Obama last DecemberThis provision not only ensured a dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool, but will help to modernize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, improve states’ ability to effectively support quality afterschool programs, and ensure afterschool activities complement the academic curriculum.

Register for Lights On and you could win!

Next month, more than one million people are expected to attend more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events across the nation. It's not too late to start planning an event in your community! Register for Lights On Afterschool by October 6, and you'll be entered to win a prize pack from WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, which allows kids to author and publish their very own children's books!

SEP
28
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Evaluating afterschool: Tips for getting started from Dallas Afterschool

By Robert Abare

Program evaluation can be an overwhelming and intimidating undertaking for afterschool program providers. There are questions ranging from where to start to what to do with evaluation results and everything in-between that program providers need to think about. To answer some of the common questions raised by afterschool program providers about evaluations and to help make evaluations more approachable, the Afterschool Alliance has started a new blog series,"Evaluating afterschool," on program evaluation best practices. For this blog series, the Afterschool Alliance turns to program providers in the field who can offer tips and lessons learned on their evaluation journey.

The first blog of this series is written by Rachel Johns, the research and evaluation manager at Dallas Afterschool in Dallas, Texas. Dallas Afterschool promotes, expands and improves the quality of afterschool and summer programs in low income neighborhoods in our community.

This spring, Dallas Afterschool released findings from the 2014-2015 school year as part of an ongoing, engaged evaluation process. Our dynamic partnership with the Center on Research and Evaluation at Southern Methodist University has allowed us to explore questions about how to improve the quality of afterschool programs effectively and efficiently, and how the quality of an afterschool program might affect students in our context. As we enter our fourth year of this evaluation, we'd like to share some of what we have learned in the process.         

Considerations for practitioners

While an evaluation as extensive as Dallas Afterschool’s may not be practical for all organizations due to financial or human capacity restraints, there are many ways to enhance your benefit from any evaluation process.

  1. Clearly define the questions you want answered and circle back to them often. These questions are the guidepost for your evaluation and can help keep you focused on the pieces of data and the analyses that matter most. Evaluation becomes less useful when it lacks direction or tries to address too many questions.
  2. Plan for more time than you think you need. If you know what questions your evaluation is asking and what data needs to be collected to answer those questions, then you have a great start. Collecting your own data can make scheduling simple, but if you rely on colleagues to collect some of it, plan for an extra week buffer. Competing priorities can make data collection fall to the back burner, but good data collection is essential for a useful evaluation. Additionally, the amount of time it takes to clean that data to make it ready for analysis can be hard to estimate. When data is derived from many different sources or is collected inconsistently, you never know what you might find or need to correct.
  3. Regularly monitor your data to save a headache in the end. Especially if several people are collecting and entering data, regular monitoring of the data can give you the opportunity to retrain before a lot of time is wasted on data “cleaning” and correcting work that has already been done.
  4. Provide more support than you expect people will need. Some people may not need training or support, but you never know who will. You may need to document protocols for data collection, provide periodic trainings, or help staff and stakeholders to understand the process and the results.

Leveraging a university partner

Dallas Afterschool partners with a local university to access expertise in evaluation design and analysis, as well as to enhance our self-reflection with external perspectives. Though choosing a university partner and engaging with them throughout the evaluation process may be daunting or even confusing, consider the following to maximize your organization’s benefit and enjoyment of the process.

  1. Know what you want. Do you simply need a report for a specific grant requirement, or are you looking for a thought partner to challenge your assumptions about your program and help you make it even better? Many evaluators jump at the chance to help a program that truly desires to improve and is willing to engage with them throughout the entire process.
  2. Develop a symbiotic relationship. Find out what research the university is interested in doing that your organization might be able to help with. Are they working on anything that might benefit your field or an issue related to your population? By opening your program to engage in research or evaluations that align with your mission but extend beyond your own evaluation, you can develop a relationship with your University partner that is beneficial to both entities and potentially addresses systemic issues that your program could not affect on its own.
  3. Trust their academic expertise but challenge the practical application of results. University partners can provide excellent direction on the design and methods of your evaluation, but you know your population best. If they propose an angle for the evaluation that doesn’t seem especially useful to your program or its participants, push back and work together to find an angle that does. Evaluators want their work to be used to help programs and the people they serve, so don’t be shy.
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learn more about: Evaluations Community Partners
SEP
28
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: September 28, 2016

By Luci Manning

Stax Music Academy Wows D.C. Crowd (USA Today)

A dozen high school students from the afterschool Stax Music Academy performed a Memphis-inspired show this weekend at the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Culture. The young musicians said they understood the historical importance of performing for the new museum. “Not only am I representing myself, I’m representing my family, my neighborhood,” 17-year-old singer Brenae Johnson told USA Today. “All of us are knowledgeable of this event and how big it really is.” The festival featured bands playing jazz, R&B, gospel and hip-hop to celebrate African-American musical traditions and their role in the nation’s struggle for justice.

Building Skills, a Block at a Time (Roanoke Times, Virginia)

Ten-year-old Oakley King has always loved playing with Legos, so when he heard his school needed more sets before it could start a new afterschool Lego club, he stepped up to the challenge. Using donations from friends, classmates and their families, he was able to buy $600 worth of Legos for the club. According to East Salem Elementary School principal Diane Rose, the club will help students develop math, problem-solving, small-motor and social skills in a creative, playful environment. “It’s so important for kids to play and to share with each other and to come together with ideas,” she told the Roanoke Times. “We want to get back to giving them these opportunities not only in the classroom but after school, too.”

How a Philly Cop Broke the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

More than 1,000 juvenile arrests in have been averted since 2014 thanks to the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program. The initiative puts first-time, low-level offenders, many of whom would have been arrested under the former zero-tolerance policy, in a 90-day afterschool program that covers topics like social and emotional competency, drug and alcohol education and anger management. “It’s an opportunity for children and families to see policing in a different way, to see the Department of Human Services in a different way, to see the whole process in a different way,” deputy commissioner and program founder Kevin Bethel told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Each teen in the program also has a case manager who performs home visits.

Indian Hill Senior Makes Selecting School Clubs Easier (Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio)

Two high school seniors have found a way to make the diverse array of afterschool options at their school less overwhelming for incoming students. The teens developed a website, Club Academy, which suggests afterschool clubs for students based on their interests and shows them how to start their own club if the one they want is not yet offered. “We got a lot of emails saying it’s been helpful and made the transition process easier,” one of the teens, Mrinal Singh, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. The site has now grown beyond Cincinnati to schools in Michigan, Connecticut and Texas. 

SEP
27
2016

IN THE FIELD
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New trends in afterschool covered at 21st CCLC Summer Institute

By Elizabeth Tish

This past July, the U.S. Department of Education held the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) 2016 Summer Institute in Phoenix, AZ, where presenters shared their valuable experiences and insights about how to develop, implement and sustain successful 21st CCLC afterschool programs

The Afterschool Alliance team presented on a number of topics:

  • The state of 21st CCLC. For the Institute’s opening plenary session, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant joined Rhonda Lauer of Foundations, Inc. and Sylvia Lyles of the U.S. Department of Education to outline the current status of 21st CCLC. Their presentation primarily focused on the recent passage of the new national education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and how the law aims to improve the education and afterschool landscapes.
  • Juvenile justice. Executive Director Jodi Grant also joined Marcel Braithwaite of the Police Athletic League and Marcia Dvorak of the Kansas Enrichment Network in a breakout session on investing in afterschool and juvenile justice partnerships. Their presentation explored the current research on juvenile crime and the ways afterschool programs can get involved to make communities safer.
  • New science standards. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Manager for the Afterschool Alliance Melissa Ballard joined Rachel Chase of the Hunter Case 21st CCLC program to present on the Next Generation Science Standards and their implications in afterschool. These standards for STEM learning have already been adopted by many states and school districts across the country.

Resources from presentations at the 21st CCLC Summer Institute have just now become available! You download them on the 2016 21st CCLC Summer Institute website

SEP
26
2016

POLICY
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Presidential candidates talk child care

By Erik Peterson

Images by Gage Skidmore and Lorie Shaull.

With less than 50 days left until the election for president, both candidates have now released proposals to address child care issues for America’s families. The proposals largely focus on child care for children from birth to age 8; however, there are some elements of the plans that would support parents with children in afterschool programs or who seek to access afterschool programs for their children.

Trump's child care plan

Earlier this month, Republican nominee Donald Trump released his child care proposal focusing primarily on tax credits and a mandatory minimum of six weeks of paid maternity leave for employers. The Trump plan proposes to change the tax code for working parents, allowing an income tax deduction for care of up to four children for households earning up to $500,000 and individuals earning up to $250,000. The plan offers a rebate of up to $1,200 per year for low-income families. The proposed six weeks of paid maternity leave would be financed through unemployment insurance reforms aimed at reducing fraud and abuse.

With regard to afterschool care, the Trump plan would create new Dependent Care Savings Accounts (DCSAs) for families to set aside extra money to foster their children's development and offset elder care for their parents or adult dependents. The new accounts would be universally available, and allow both tax-deductible contributions and tax-free appreciation year-to-year, unlike current law Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), which are available only if offered by an employer and do not allow balances to accumulate. The plan specifies that when established for children under 18 years old, funds from a DCSA can be applied to traditional child care, but also afterschool enrichment programs and school tuition. The proposal aims to assist lower-income parents by ensuring the government matches half of the first $1,000 deposited per year.

Clinton's child care plan

The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, released her child care plan during the primaries last year. Clinton’s plan includes 12 weeks of paid family leave for both parents and would be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy. Her plan would also cap child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income, and would rely on either tax cuts or block grants to help subsidize costs that exceed the cap. Additionally, the Democratic party platform included language on increased public investment in childcare, support for community schools, increased investment in afterschool, summer learning and mentoring programs, as well as funding for STEM (especially for computer science), including in the afterschool space.

For more information on the election and afterschool, visit our Campaign for Afterschool Toolkit.

SEP
26
2016

RESEARCH
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Updated interactive dashboard with data on high-poverty communities

By Nikki Yamashiro

Following the release of our latest America After 3PM report, Afterschool in Communities of Concentrated Poverty, which looks at the role of afterschool programs in areas where there is a high concentration of families living below the poverty line, our interactive Web dashboard has been updated to feature data on the state of afterschool in these high poverty areas. On the communities of concentrated poverty dashboard page, you can find out what parents in these high poverty areas are looking for in their child’s afterschool program, how long children participate in afterschool programs, and how satisfied parents are with the activities in their child’s afterschool program. The dashboard also includes data on the barriers parents living in communities of concentrated poverty face enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

The primary goal of this dashboard is to create an easy way to navigate through the large amount of data collected through the America After 3PM survey. In addition to finding afterschool-related information on specific populations, such as communities of concentrated poverty and rural communities, you can see what afterschool looks like in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as learn about key subject areas, including STEM and health and wellness.

This latest update is the fifth in a series of updates we have made to the dashboard to make sure that it is able to provide you with as comprehensive a look at afterschool as possible. Take some time to explore all that the dashboard has to offer!

SEP
23
2016

POLICY
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Update: House of Representatives passes juvenile justice bill

By Erik Peterson

Pictured at the committee meeting yesterday, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced the the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act along with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). Image via @edworkorce on Instagram.

On evening of September 22, the full House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963) by a final vote of 382 to 29. The bill now goes to the Senate, which has yet to pass its version of the juvenile justice reauthorization legislation. For more on the House bill and implications for afterschool programs, see the blog from Sept. 15 below. 

Juvenile justice bill introduced in House, passes Education Committee

On Friday, September 9, members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963). Sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to help state and local leaders better serve young people and juvenile offenders. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved the legislation by voice vote yesterday.

Since 1974, the JJDPA has coordinated federal resources aimed at improving state juvenile justice systems with a focus on education and rehabilitation. While many of these state juvenile justice programs have been able to help children develop the life skills they need to hold themselves accountable and achieve success, not all programs have seen the same results. As the law expired in 2008, this bipartisan legislation includes reforms to provide states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities; promote opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society; help at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by supporting prevention services; prioritize evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency; and improve accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) praised the bipartisan bill in a statement, saying the “bipartisan bill includes positive reforms that will help state and community leaders keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and provide juvenile offenders the second chance they need to turn their lives around.”

The bill will strengthen prevention and rehabilitation support by:

  • Providing states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities.
  • Promoting opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society.
  • Helping at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by supporting prevention services.  
  • Prioritizing evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency.
  • Improving accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

With regard to support for afterschool and mentoring programs, the bill restructures an existing local delinquency-prevention grant program to better assess and respond to unmet community needs. Under the legislation, eligible states will award five-year grants to help local leaders meet those specific needs with a focus on community engagement and coordination among existing efforts and programs. Mentoring and afterschool are included as allowable uses for the prevention funding as evidence-based programs to support young people.

The Senate’s bipartisan version of the juvenile justice legislation, S. 1169, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2015, though attempts to pass the bill on the Senate floor have not yet been successful despite broad bipartisan support. 

SEP
22
2016

FUNDING
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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: The business of corporate fundraising

By Ed Spitzberg

Thanks for tuning in to our blog series, “An insider’s guide to funding afterschool.”  This series has been popular, and I want to make sure we’re answering questions you have. To that end, if you have questions you want answered, send ‘em my way at espitzberg@afterschoolalliance.org. I’ll pick some of them to answer in a blog later this year.

So now that you’ve connected your donors to your mission, leveraged your resources, and done your prospect research, it’s time to break down the types of funders potentially available to you and start looking at how best to convert them to donors.

In general, there are two categories of donors: individual donors (private individuals, whether giving $5 online or $5 million to endow a new building) and institutional donors (government, foundation and corporate donors). Today, we’re going to delve into the latter, specificaly corporate fundraising.

Corporations, like other types of donors, give out of philanthropic desire to improve their community, their region and the world. But unlike other types of donors, corporations also have an additional motivation: serving their business interests. Therefore, as a fundraiser, it’s vital to always think like a business and understand their business interests when talking to corporations.*

While there are many different ways that corporations support afterschool programs (and more ways than I can cover in one blog entry, as corporate social responsibility is a complex and evolving area), we’ll focus on two main ways corporations can become partners.

Corporate marketing vs. corporate foundations

Most corporations have part of their budget set aside for marketing, and that marketing can take the shape of advancing your organization if you are giving the corporation a way to reach a larger or newer (or larger and newer) audience. To tap into this corporate marketing budget, you must not only develop relationships with the marketing staff, but you also must develop a specific idea and have a very good understanding of what you have to offer as a nonprofit:  access to your students, access to your families, access into the community, alignment with your wonderful work and brand… You need to understand all that—with numbers—so that you can make sure they understand it, too. So whether you want to partner with the local dry cleaner or a national grocery store chain, know your offerings, your reach and your impact.

Corporate foundations, on the other hand, while also focusing on the parent company’s business needs, often take a more high-level view of their mission. While often less concerned with eyeballs (though not necessarily unconcerned), they may care more about addressing broader societal challenges that also impact their work and future—e.g. filling their employment pipeline with a skilled workforce, or encouraging healthy eating for a manufacturer of healthy snacks. As with other private foundations, know their guidelines in advance to make sure your organization or your project fits. Also make sure to understand the business needs that are driving their priorities, so that you can communicate how your project strategically and effectively fits their goals.