RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Get Afterschool Updates
Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Blogs We Read Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Recent Afterschool Snacks
FEB
11

STEM
email
print

How did afterschool STEM fare in the President's budget proposal?

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Another year, another budget. But this time, a final budget request from this President. So let’s break it down and see how STEM education, and specifically STEM education in afterschool, fares in this budget request.

Just like last year, the overall request for STEM education across the federal science mission agencies is $3 billion. This includes everything from K-12 to graduate education. For more details, you can see the STEM education fact sheet from the White House.

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Education and Human Resources Directorate, which funds most of the STEM education programs at NSF, will receive an 8.3% increase to $952.86M. Of this, the one dedicated funding stream that targets informal science education and is used to fund afterschool STEM programming—the Advancing Informal STEM Education (AISL) program—will receive $62.5M, which is level-funded from the FY2016 estimate. The budget proposal would continue the AISL focus on supporting research projects that utilize informal learning environments in novel ways to engage students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Another program that is often used to provide afterschool STEM programs is the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which is funded by H-1B visa fees. This program is also level-funded at $25M. NSF is also committing $120M over five years in the new Computer Science for All initiative to enable rigorous and engaging computer science (CS) education in schools all across the country. It is as yet unclear if any of this funding can be utilized by afterschool programs although the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program will work with NSF to increase awareness of high-quality CS resources for afterschool programs.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1ovtvdw
learn more about: Budget Congress Obama Science
FEB
11

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Celebrate Digital Learning Day on February 17th!

By Dan Gilbert

The fifth annual Digital Learning Day is coming up next Wednesday, Feb. 17th! With an ever-expanding array of new digital devices, mobile apps and educational software, it has never been more difficult to keep up with recent advancements in educational technology. Our friends at the Alliance for Excellent Education founded Digital Learning Day in 2012 as a means of highlighting the innovative and effective practices that leverage technology, while simultaneously working to ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning experiences.

While much of the recent hype around digital learning has been focused on large-scale efforts in districts and states around the country, afterschool and summer learning programs have been experimenting, innovating and perfecting the use of digital learning strategies for years. Digital Learning Day provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the effective practices that need to be shared and scaled to reach more students around the country, especially those with the greatest need.

This year’s Digital Learning Day celebration will be focused on bridging the gap of equitable access to digital learning experiences for underprivileged children around the country. On Feb. 17th, hundreds of grassroots celebrations will be taking place all over the country to raise awareness around the incredible ways that technology can be leveraged to improve learning experience of every child, regardless of where they live. This celebration will culminate in the Digital Learning Day Live!, which will feature a mix of live webcasts, Twitter Chats, and Google Hangouts organized to inspire and provoke thoughtful discussions around what is needed to promote digital equity for all students.

Since launching in 2012, Digital Learning Day has not only become a platform for encouraging educators to innovate, but also to help the education community reflect on strategies and practices that maximize the positive impact that technology can have on youth. While there is much debate around what a 21st Century education should look like, there is a growing consensus that technology can play a vital role in ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. Afterschool programs around the country are providing youth with unique opportunities to interact with technology in creative, collaborative ways every single day. This Feb. 17th, we hope that you take some time to learn about and celebrate the incredible opportunities that technology has made available to today’s youth.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1SjHfEL
learn more about: Digital Learning Science
FEB
10

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

Weekly Media Roundup: February 10, 2016

By Luci Manning

Kirn Students Learn Nuts, Bolts of Cybersecurity through Club (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

An afterschool club at Kirn Middle School is allowing students to explore a potential career path while learning how to protect themselves online. The Air Force Association’s Cyber Patriot program teaches students the basics of cybersecurity by having them practice on simulated “virtual machines” with pre-programmed security flaws for them to detect and solve. The hands-on experience gives students a valuable opportunity to learn by doing, according to guest speaker Anthony Kava, an information technology supervisor and information security officer for Pottawattamie County’s government. “The students’ enthusiasm, and how they seem to soak up complex knowledge so quickly, has made the experience extremely rewarding,” he told the Daily Nonpareil.

Pascack Valley Students Build Interest in Robotics (NorthJersey.com, New Jersey)

The New Jersey education commissioner and other state officials recently received a visit from a high school robotics team hoping to build more STEM-based afterschool programs in underserved districts across the state. The Pascack Valley Regional High School District Pi-oneers met with the officials to explain the value of their program, show off some of the robots they have built and discuss potential funding and corporate partnership options. “We would like to extend the experiences we have had to places where afterschool mentor-based programs do not yet exist,” high school senior and co-CEO of the Pi-oneers Alexandra Capodicasa told NorthJeresy.com.

An Out of This World After School Program Connects Kids with Outer Space (WPSD, Illinois)

Kids in the space-based Astra afterschool program went on a virtual journey through the solar system last week thanks to Engineer Kristina Larson from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Larson spoke to the Carterville Intermediate School students about her work on the Dawn Mission, which explored dwarf planets in the Asteroid Belt. According to WPSD, talking with a real life rocket scientist made the kids want to work in outer space when they grow up. Astra gives students the chance to learn about all things space by building rockets, meeting astronauts and more.

Meeting the Needs of Kids in the U.S. Who Fled Violence in Central America (Youth Today, California)

Child refugees in the U.S. face a lot of challenges, but one afterschool program in San Francisco is trying to make their transition just a bit easier. Refugee Transitions operates in two high schools serving a large Central American immigrant population, providing academic assistance, enrichment activities, home-based tutoring, health care and, most importantly, a safe and supportive place to be after school. Nearly 100 students take part in the program each day. According to program coordinator Joyce Arellano-Bravo, the enrichment activities, which range from yoga to disc jockeying, are particularly helpful for students trying to acclimate to their new life because “you learn English by doing,” she told Youth Today.

FEB
10

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Add your message to our giant love letter: #WeLoveAfterschool!

By Jodi Grant

We all recognize the symbols of this time of year: teddy bears, chocolate, and children swapping cards at school. We learn at an early age that this season is about bringing people together, in spite of our many differences. This February, I invite you to join me in sending a “love letter” to the afterschool programs that knit communities together—regardless of differences in age, race, economic privilege or academic interest—by providing a safe place for children to grow and learn.

Our campaign toolkit has everything you need to join in. It’s easy to take part. Fill in the blank on our downloadable graphic with a personal message of why afterschool matters to you—and encourage kids from your program to do the same! Then post photos of you or your kids holding their “love letters” on social media with the hashtag #WeLoveAfterschool.

There are so many reasons to love afterschool programs. Afterschool exposes children of varying ages and backgrounds to new ideas, like computer science or STEM learning activities, that prepare them for college and careers. Afterschool promotes social and emotional learning, helping youth develop the critical reasoning skills and humane instincts they need to become responsible, successful adults. Afterschool helps working families whose children would otherwise invent their own activities after the bell rings.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1Q93Fby
learn more about:
FEB
9

POLICY
email
print

The president's FY2017 budget: An afterschool and summer learning perspective

By Erik Peterson

Today President Obama released the final budget request of his presidency, proposing a $4 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year, which begins this October. The president requested $1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) —a cut of $167 million that would be devastating to the 170,000 children and their families that stand to lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs under the proposal. Read Executive Director Jodi Grant's official response to the budget proposal. 

The budget proposal has also been deemed “dead on arrival” by Congressional leadership.

The 21st CCLC initiative was reauthorized last December in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and saw funding increased by $15 million as part of the bipartisan 2016 fiscal year omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support, more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school, and the parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs—but programs are unavailable, unaffordable or both. Rather than cut this vital support for young people and their families, Congress should increase funding to $1.3 billion to help meet the growing demand for afterschool programs and help address rising labor costs associated with quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1Q7F9rl
learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Obama
FEB
8

RESEARCH
email
print

Presenting a united front on solutions to poverty and income inequality

By Jillian Luchner

While nationally, primary season seems bent on focusing on the politics that divides us, a group of Washington, D.C. academics from both sides of the political spectrum has identified three principles that they feel can unite and motivate people around policy solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing domestic concerns.

Opportunity, Responsibility and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream,” released in December 2015, concentrates on the three moral values in the title, which the authors suggest bring us together as a nation and can be used as a foundation for seeking and implementing solutions to the pressing national problems of poverty and income inequality.

First, a look at the problems:

  • Poverty: The U.S. child poverty rate has remained consistently around 20 percent for over 40 years, and our national poverty rate that remains above 15 percent. The report authors state, “as both conservatives and progressives, we believe these rates are too high.” Especially for vulnerable populations, such as children, these high poverty rates limit safety and security.
  • Inequality: Economists note that children born into the bottom fifth of income levels are 43 percent likely to stay there, yet in an equitable society only 20 percent of those children should remain. The likelihood of poor children staying poor and wealthy children staying wealthy represents a situation of income levels economists call “sticky." Moreover, the problem is such that “most scholars believe that the U.S. has lower mobility than other industrialized countries” and “the rungs on the economic ladder are getting father apart." This contrasts with the expectation that the American Dream is founded on equal opportunity.
FEB
5

FUNDING
email
print

White House proposes $5.5 billion to help young adults find their first jobs

By Jillian Luchner

Do you remember your first job? Did you find it in the classifieds, through a family friend? Did it provide a reality check on that place called the “real world?" Did it help you make friends, connections, build confidence? Did it help you get your second job?

President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal aims to provide $5.5 billion dollars to connect young people with their first jobs. According to the White House, the reason is simple, “one of the first things employers screen for in the hiring process is work experience…Once a young person gets their first job, its much easier to get the next one." Currently, 1 in 7 young people are both out of school and out of work. The new proposal could provide an opportunity for summer learning providers to partner with potential summer work employers to provide a comprehensive learning experience for young people.

The initiative, which coordinates among the Departments of Labor and Education, has multiple components to help youth ages 16-24 get their foot in the door, including:

share this link: http://bit.ly/20xpW7O
learn more about: Federal Funding Obama
FEB
5

FUNDING
email
print

NRPA announces available funds to support HEPA implementation

By Tiereny Lloyd

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) recently announced a new funding opportunity, through the Walmart Foundation, to support park and recreation agencies in their efforts to benefit children’s health. The one-year grants are expected to range from $25,000 to $35,000 and will focus on four main goals:

  • Increase the number of healthy meals children in low-income communities receive through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) during out-of-school times;
  • Provide nutrition literacy to children and families that creates behavior change by teaching the importance of healthy eating;
  • Implement nutrition standards that increase access to healthier foods and support a healthy eating environment; and
  • Promote meal and program efficiencies that will decrease food waste and lead to more sustainable meal programs.

All local park and recreation agencies (large and small) are encouraged to apply. Grant funds can be used to support your out-of-school time program's expenses such as transportation, equipment, staffing, marketing, supplies, etc. The funding cannot be used to purchase food.

Applications are due at midnight ET on Monday, March 7, 2016. It is anticipated that NRPA will notify all applicants by April 4, 2016. Visit NRPA's website to review full eligibility guidelines and to submit your application.

Park and recreation agencies are the health and wellness leaders in their communities. Having a safe place to go after school, being active and eating healthy are vital services park and recreation agencies provide. That's why NRPA created Commit to Health—a campaign that supports the implementation and evaluation of Healthy Eating, Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in park and recreation sites across the country.