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MAY
12
2017

POLICY
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New career education bill includes opportunities for afterschool

By Jillian Luchner

Update, May 17: (H.R. 2352) unanimously passed out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on May 17, 2017.

Original post, May 12:

On May 4, Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) to provide more opportunities for coordination and collaboration across sectors that support student career pathways.

The proposed bill emphasizes the importance of employability skills and makes career exploration an allowable use of CTE funding as early as the middle grades (5th grade and beyond). Community-based providers, such as afterschool programs, are explicitly mentioned as eligible entities, which should smooth the way for afterschool programs to be considered school district partners. Additionally, intermediaries that support districts are required to have experience coordinating partnerships with community-based providers, making afterschool programs a great fit for the role.

The legislation would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which is overdue for an update. It mainly replicates last year’s H.R. 5587, which passed with a vote of 405-5 in the 114th Congress, and will authorize the CTE program with $1.133 billion in funds for FY18, growing to $1.213 billion in 2023. To see how this year’s bill has changed from last year’s proposed legislation, see this Education Week article.

A bill summary on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce webpage reviews some of the important updates in the proposed legislation, including:

  • Providing more flexibility on how to use the federal funds
  • Emphasizing coordination across federal- and state-led programs
  • Enhancing partnerships and public input between community and business representatives

The timing is right for a new CTE law. The federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, takes effect this fall and includes updated language around workforce development in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, along with encouragement to work across federal programs. Passage of an updated CTE bill that gives afterschool providers a more explicit role in planning and providing programming would be another crucial step towards providing students with more seamless in- and out-of-school experiences that propel their future plans and career paths.

For now, make your voice heard! Afterschool professionals can continue to inform local, state, and federal lawmakers of the great work they are doing to prepare youth for careers—see one great example here. Programs can also begin or build upon conversations with CTE State Directors, local school boards, superintendents, and principals to strengthen connections with the education system. 

MAY
10
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 10, 2017

By Luci Manning

Teenage Girls Who Code Get Encouragement from U.S. Bank (Marketplace)

U.S. Bank offered its support to six teams of girls participating in a coding challenge called Technovation, encouraging them to develop apps that would help people manage their finances. The teams, several of which were made up of Latin American and Somali immigrants, would meet after school in Minneapolis to work on their apps and prepare to pitch them at the competition, according to Marketplace. One of the apps, Piggy Saver, would help youths stick to financial goals and manage their money.

Students Learn that Science Is Everywhere (Clark Fork Valley Press & Mineral Independent, Montana)

Students in nine Montana afterschool programs have had the chance to collaborate with NASA scientists on special research projects over the past few months. Youths worked on creating drag devices that prepare a spacecraft to land on Mars, and helped build pressure suits for astronauts. “It’s great because they are finding that science is everywhere, not just in a science class,” Alberton/Superior 21st Century Community Learning Center program coordinator Jessica Mauer told the Clark Fork Valley Press & Mineral Independent.

Hmong Moms Learn English While Kids Are Tutored (Wausau Daily Herald, Wisconsin)

A new program at Horace Mann Middle School gives immigrant moms a chance to learn English without worrying about finding child care. The program, offered through a partnership between the Wausau School District and Northcentral Technical College, offers English as a second language lessons to parents in one room, and the Growing Great Minds afterschool program to students in another. Horace Mann Middle School enrichment coordinator Zoe Morning told the Wausau Daily Herald that this arrangement reinforces the value of education for children and gives financially disadvantaged immigrant families a chance to improve critical language skills.

Frisco Students Start Club to Create Unity in Divided Times (WFAA, Texas)

Two high school juniors are attempting to mitigate the divisive political atmosphere with an afterschool conversation club called The Bridge. The group stays after school once a week to discuss different social issues – from public education to race – in a friendly, respectful, open-minded environment. Founders Aaron Raye and Daniel Szczechowksi emphasize that they don’t want everyone to agree after the conversations, but they do want to give participants a chance to hear from those with different perspectives. Adults in the community are taking note – in fact, parents started a similar group just last week. “It gives you hope that people can talk to each other in a different way and find that respect,” Raye’s father Mike told WFAA

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learn more about: Science Youth Development Literacy
MAY
4
2017

RESEARCH
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5 ways afterschool prepares kids to succeed in the workplace

By Charlotte Steinecke

Cultivating tomorrow’s workforce remains a central part of the discussion about America’s economic future. As today’s children begin to develop the skills they will need in the workplace, experts in the education and afterschool fields are turning their attention to the ways that afterschool can contribute to that development.

In the summer of 2016, the Riley Institute at Furman University surveyed afterschool state network leads using a comprehensive skills list from the National Network of Business and Industry Associations and additional skills from other nationally-regarded organizations. Survey responses illustrate the extent to which workforce readiness skills are developed in afterschool programming and the strategies programs use to grow those skills. Here are some main highlights from the study:

  • The top five workforce readiness skills developed by afterschool are teamwork, communication, problem solving, self-confidence, and critical thinking
  • 87 percent of survey respondents report that afterschool programs help develop self-confidence “a lot” – 89 percent report similar levels of improvement for teamwork skills, and 81 percent report gains in communication skills
  • STEM/robotics programs are top performers for fostering self-confidence, problem solving, and teamwork development
  • Afterschool programs create environments where students can engage in reflection, discussion, and argumentative essays to build their critical thinking skills
  • In-school attendance, behavior, and academic performance are seen to improve for students in afterschool programs

Check out the full results of the study here. To learn more about the skills lists utilized for this survey, head over to the Business Roundtable skills list, the Indiana skills list, and the profile of a South Carolina graduate.

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learn more about: Economy Youth Development
APR
19
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: April 19, 2017

By Luci Manning

Sew Bain Club Sends Handmade Clothing to Nicaragua (Cranston Herald, Rhode Island)

Nearly a dozen girls have been spending their afterschool time learning to design clothes and use a sewing machine for a good cause. The girls in the Sew Bain afterschool club, part of Afterschool Ambassador Ayana Crichton’s Bain afterschool program, work three days a week to hand-sew clothing to donate to children in Latin America. “They are really very kind to one another and have become like a little family in here,” program head Rachel Bousquet told the Cranston Herald. “They give each other ideas, they are really encouraging each other and they help each other.”

Standing Up for Their Own – Locally and Globally (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)

Eight high school students recently had a chance to lobby for youth programs as part of a special trip to Washington D.C. The Youth Ambassadors pilot program, from Jackson-based Operation Shoestring and ChildFund International, brought the students to Washington to meet with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and staff from the offices of several others members of the Mississippi delegation to discuss the importance of afterschool and summer programs in low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world. “It let our students know they can share their perspectives and that change is a complicated and protracted process,” Operation Shoestring executive director Robert Langford told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

Letter: Ending Farm and Garden Would Be a Major Loss (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

In a letter to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle, 16-year old Julianna Martinez expressed worry that critical funding for her afterschool program will be eliminated under President Trump’s proposed budget: “Farm and Garden is more than just an after-school program. It’s a place where I can be myself and feel welcomed just as I am…. And it’s not just me. 21st Century programs like Farm and Garden mean so much to many of us youth. They provide activities to keep us out of trouble. They teach skills that help us be successful in the future…. I have never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy being in Farm and Garden program. It has brought joy and warmth to my heart every week. Please, President Trump, do not take that away from me.”

Dogs Help Teach Life Skills, Offer Unconditional Love (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)

Paws and Think has expanded its programming to pair dogs with struggling students to help them learn important life skills and spend time with a loving canine companion. Through the Pups and Warriors program, students at Warren Central High School train dogs who will soon go up for adoption, honing social and emotional learning skills and building confidence. “The dogs not only instill love and attention, they help the kids blossom,” Paws and Think executive director Kelsey Burton told the Indianapolis Star. The dogs benefit too, learning basic obedience skills that will help them be better pets once they’re adopted. 

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learn more about: POTUS Service Youth Development
APR
6
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Tools to Build On: Creating constructive climates in out-of-school time

By Jillian Luchner

The recent national dialogue and policy landscape has exposed children of all ages to complex discussions about immigration, religion, diversity, safety, and community. In a climate of uncertainty, students can end up feeling frustrated, hurt, alienated, or confused if these often-taboo subjects are not confronted thoughtfully by adults.

Many tools of the trade exist to help students engage constructively and understand themselves, their peers, their community, and their country. When led by trained, well-equipped staff, afterschool and summer programs can provide ideal settings with the necessary time and structure for students to work through complex thoughts and emotions and develop their roles in safe and welcoming communities.

Over the next year, the Afterschool Alliance and a broad range of partners will present “Tools to Build On,” a webinar series of expert testimony, discussions, resources, and firsthand accounts on how to bring out and build up supportive climates during out-of-school time. The first four topics are:

  • Supporting immigrant students, families, and communities: Best practices for afterschool programs interacting with immigrant students and families (Wednesday, April 12 at 2 p.m. EDT). Register now.
  • Understanding and responding to identity-based bullying: Current frameworks and strategies for educators and youth bystanders (May 2017).
  • Building community between police and youth: Working to build positive and productive relationships between children and teens and law enforcement (June 2017).
  • Engaging the tough conversation: Learning the skills and tools to help students confront complex issues and feelings in a safe space (July 2017).

All kids deserve to feel welcome, valuable, and safe without exception. These four webinars are just a start, and we’ll be offering more webinars, practical tools, and resources in the coming year. Please join the Afterschool Alliance for this important series.

MAR
24
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club

By Elizabeth Tish

This post is presented as part of the Afterschool Spotlight blog series, which tells the stories of the parents, participants, and providers of afterschool programs. This post is also an installment in our Afterschool & Law Enforcement series, which explores the ways afterschool programs are partnering with police to keep communities safe and growing strong. Our latest installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series highlights three recommendations for police officers working with afterschool programs.

Liam McEvilly, Program Director of the Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club, is a former police officer. While serving in the police force in the United Kingdom, McEvilly often worked with youth development organizations, inspiring him to make a career change and work with children full time.  

When he found a home on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, McEvilly wanted to reach out to the local police department to let them know that they were welcome to stop by the program when on duty in the area. A parent in the program connected him with Officer Carla Sias, who works on community relations for the Bainbridge Police Department.

Officer Sias began coming to the Boys & Girls Club weekly to talk and play with the kids. Sometimes she brings in other officers from her department as well—in December, they threw an ice cream party for the club. When Officer Sias is there, she joins the kids in their daily activities. That might mean joining a game of pool, coloring, or walking students to a close by senior facility to read to residents. She sometimes talks to the kids about public safety or answers their questions about police while they play.

For many kids, playing with an officer after school allows them to learn more about a profession they have not learned a lot about. Afterschool often provides a casual environment for officers and kids to get to know each other as people. It is an opportunity for students’ typical interactions with officers to be positive experiences, rather than only encountering police officers if a negative situation occurs.

For others, interacting with an officer might be more challenging. On her first day at the Boys & Girls Club, Officer Sias met a middle school student who had faced a negative experience with a police officer when she was young. Seeing an officer in her afterschool program made the student uncomfortable.  Officer Sias was able to talk with the student about her past, answer questions about the role of police, and connect with the student’s school guidance counselor to make sure the student was getting the support that she needed. The two were able to form a bond and they now check in on each other when they see each other at the club.

In addition to spending time with kids at the club and forming their image of police through positive interaction, Officer Sias has seen her involvement with the Boys & Girls Club affect other interactions outside of afterschool. Now when she visits schools, she is able to greet the kids she has spent time with afterschool, forming a stronger bond.

Officer Sias tries to develop a relationship with the staff, as well as the kids. She works hard to make sure she is an asset to the club, providing them with resources and support they might not otherwise have. She is happy to step in where she is needed and step out where she is not. Soon, when she has had time to identify the needs of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, she might collaborate with staff to create a more structured public safety-focused program and curriculum.

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learn more about: Youth Development Community Partners
MAR
23
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Evaluating afterschool: How to use data to improve program quality

By Charlotte Steinecke

By Nicole Lovecchio, Chief Program Officer at WINGS for kids.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third 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 and second posts of the series from Dallas Afterschool and After-School All-Stars. 

As afterschool providers, we know that the hours from 3 to 6 p.m. offer an incredible opportunity to engage students who need it most and help them feel more connected to their peers, the school day, and to their community—and the key to maximizing that potential lies in the skills and abilities of the afterschool staff.

For many years we worked on codifying and documenting every element and detail of our program. We created manuals explaining how we ran our social and emotional learning (SEL) afterschool program in an effort to replicate our program throughout several sites in the Southeast. We then focused heavily on fidelity and the implementation of these program elements.

Along the way, we realized that a checklist of items, however exact, couldn’t guarantee a high-quality program.  By gathering data on our staff and kids, we were able to see the shift that was needed: clearer focus on building up the skills of our staff on the ground.

3 ways data collected impacted program quality

Improving adult skills and practices. Quarterly program assessments (observations) of our sites uncovered a trend indicating that our staff (12 college-aged mentors per site who work in 1:12 ratio with students) were primarily focused on reacting to the negative behaviors of our kids. Because our staff was reactive instead of proactive, there was little room for engaging activity.  Therefore, we redesigned staff trainings and redefined the WINGS approach to SEL, all with a focus on building adult skills and practices first and foremost.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Youth Development
MAR
15
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Weekly Media Roundup: March 15, 2017

By Luci Manning

Catonsville Elementary School Community Service Group Expands (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

Over the course of the school year, Westchester Elementary School students have run a candy drive for troops overseas, written thank-you notes to their teachers and compiled goodie bags for firefighters and police officers as part of a community service-focused afterschool program. EPIK Kids in Action shows the children ways they can give back to their community, preparing them for the 75 hours of service they need to log before they graduate high school. “Watching them serve and be excited about serving others is really cool,” teacher Maria Buker told the Baltimore Sun. “To see the big heart that’s inside of them, the fact that they want to do this and not run home and play video games, to make a human impact, you can’t put words on that.”

Citywide Poets Helps Detroit Youths Discover Themselves (Detroit Free Press, Michigan)

A poetry-focused afterschool program is building Detroit-area teens’ self-confidence by giving them a creative outlet and training them in writing and public speaking. Citywide Poets runs writing workshops after school and during the summer, offering students performance opportunities, pairing them with mentors and even helping them publish their poems. “I was a very shy child that didn’t like speaking or talking,” 16-year-old Wes Matthews told the Detroit Free Press. “I didn’t like my own writing. But after a while, I… [believed] in myself and the power of expressing yourself through poetry.”

Acquiring Hockey Skills and a Sense of Community, Youngsters Warm to Golden Knights (Las Vegas Sun, Nevada)

More than 60 After-School All-Stars students had a chance to learn hockey skills from the Vegas Golden Knights at a special event last week. Students met with team executives and played street hockey, oversized Jenga and beanbags with the NHL players. The Golden Knights partner with Toyota to run a youth hockey clinic in the area, and this event was another way for the team to engage with the community. “It has been a tremendous experience for the students,” ASAS executive director Jodi Manzella told the Las Vegas Sun. “For them to experience what it’s like to have partners in the community like the Golden Knights and Toyota to show the kids that there are people, businesses and organizations that want to invest in them. It’s truly priceless for the students.”

Oakley Library Haven for Teens at Afterschool Program (East Bay Times, California)

Students in Freedom High School, and their younger siblings and peers, now have a safe space to decompress after a long week at Oakley Library’s Teen Haven. The Friday afterschool program provides snacks and activities for the students before they head home for the weekend, giving them a place to spend time with their friends, meet new people and relax by playing games, doing crafts or watching movies. According to the East Bay Times, the program is free for students from sixth through 12th grade and is run by the Oakley Library Youth Squad.