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JUN
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: How one rural town is investing in Alaska's future workforce

By Guest Blogger

By Thomas Azzarella, director of the Alaska Afterschool Network. This blog was originally published on the Alaska Afterschool Blog on June 6.

Photo courtesy of Eric Filradi

The 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) in Nenana is addressing this demand by preparing youth living in rural Alaska for this crucial industry.Nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s cities, towns, and villages are accessible only by plane or boat, which makes having a strong aviation workforce critical to having a strong state economy. Qualified and experienced employees in the aviation industry are in high demand throughout the state, especially in rural communities.

Nenana is a small rural town of approximately 400 residents. Nenana City School District is comprised of one K-12 grade school that serves nearly 200 students. Approximately 100 of these students are enrolled in the school’s boarding facility, the Student Living Center, for grades 9-12. These students come from villages and towns all over the state, many of which attend school in Nenana because of the limited educational offerings in their home village. 

Nenana’s Community Learning Centers program expands the school’s educational offerings after school by providing tutoring, career-tech programs, and opportunities for building self-confidence and leadership skills. Among these offerings is the school’s Aviation Mechanics program, which is preparing high school students for high-paying jobs in Alaska’s aviation industry.

MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Not The Onion: Horses, surfboards, and cyberattacks in afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Photo by Pete Markham

Despite a wealth of research showing the importance of afterschool and widespread popularity with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, programs have never been more threatened. This week the president decided to double down on his call to eliminate afterschool funding in his 2018 budget proposal, leaving 1.6 million kids’ with no where to go after school. It’s a serious matter with implications for Americans across the country.  The cut has caught the attention of major national media, local media across the country, and late night comedians and Saturday Night Live.  

The Afterschool Alliance isn’t exempt from the heightened publicity. On Monday, we had our first mention in The Onion, which wrote a satirical piece on the Secretary of Education’s new plan to replace 21st Century Community Learning Centers with afterschool polo programs across the country.

I was flattered to be mentioned, but as in all great satire, the piece contained a lot of truth. If the Secretary of Education did call me, I’d be thrilled to tell her about pretty amazing afterschool programs. I haven’t heard of afterschool polo yet, but given the creativity and ingenuity local communities across the nation have developed, I would not be surprised. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, boost student success, and help working families – and quite often, they also blow your mind.

MAY
24
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 24, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Funding Is a Smart Public Investment (Springfield News-Leader, Missouri)

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams argues for 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding in a Springfield News-Leader op-ed: “Over the long run, these programs can improve social-emotional skill development, classroom behavior, school attendance and high school graduation rates. That matters a lot to those of us in law enforcement because high school dropouts are three times more likely to be arrested and eight times more likely to be incarcerated than those who graduate…. By every measure, funding for these important programs is an investment that parents, kids and taxpayers can bank on in the years to come.”

Hamilton Couple Helps Youth Gain Valuable ‘Experience’ (Journal-News, Ohio)

Students in the Hamilton Boys and Girls Club can now earn the privilege of participating in special activities by regularly attending afterschool programs and demonstrating positive behavior, according to the Journal-News. The Club’s Experience program has been active for a year, providing the students with positive environments and enrichment activities like college visits, camping and art—opportunities that they may not normally have access to. “It’s fun for them to be able to try some of these things that they may not have the chance to be exposed to otherwise without the Experience program,” founder Krista Parrish said.

UPS Club Mentors High School Students to Broaden World of Computer Science (News Tribune, Washington)

A new program is helping Lincoln High Schoolers learn the fundamentals of coding alongside college students from the University of Puget Sound’s Beta Coders club. The diverse group of UPS computer science students tutors the teens in coding and animation, aiming to show them that anyone can pursue a future in STEM. “Many people see computer science to be an intimidating field that only a select few can strive in,” junior and club leader Sofia Schwartz told the News Tribune, “but I wanted to show people that it isn’t so complicated after all.”

Students Work with Horses as Part of After-School Club (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

Each week, ten fourth- and fifth-graders from Longfellow Elementary School have the opportunity to ride horses at the Seefus Riding Stable as part of a special afterschool program. Students take turns riding and learning to care for the horses and riding equipment. “Students get to interact and learn something they may not be learning in the classroom,” fifth-grade teacher and club leader Cassie Wall told the Daily Nonpareil. “It’s a really different experience and they can find out they do have passions for things other than what they’ve known.”  

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.