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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.
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JUN
30

IN THE FIELD
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Check out our new look @ afterschoolalliance.org

By Ursula Helminski

Last week, we rolled out a new look at afterschoolalliance.org.  Don’t worry, all the resources you’ve come to expect on policy, research, advocacy, funding and communications are still here – but in a new and improved format. 

We’ve worked hard to make it easier to find the information you need, with brand new search features to make our best research more accessible and a revamped Afterschool Toolbox full of practical tools to strengthen (or start!) a program. We've also added new visuals to make your visits to our site more enjoyable.

There will be a few hiccups here and there during this transition.  We thank you in advance for your patience.  If you notice something awry while you're exploring, post a comment or drop us a line at info@afterschoolalliance.org so we can address it right away.

We hope you enjoy surfing around the new afterschoolalliance.org, and we want to hear from you! Do let us know what you think in the comments section below, and provide any suggestions you have for our site.  We will be rolling out more improvements throughout the summer!

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JUN
29

POLICY
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Afterschool policy advancing in state legislatures nationwide

By Sophie Papavizas

While Congress continues to struggle to pass federal spending and policy changes advancing afterschool and summer learning programs, advocates have been busy building support for local and state efforts to expand access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. From Vermont to California, friends of afterschool coordinated by Statewide Afterschool Networks have succeeded in fighting back cuts and laying the groundwork for new investments in out of school programming that keep young people safe, help working families and inspire learning. Below are a few highlights of them many actions taking place at the state level.

Vermont

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently signed H. 480, a Miscellaneous Education bill, into law as Act 48.  The Act, supported by Vermont Afterschool inc., established the Expanded Learning Opportunities Special Fund at the Vermont Agency of Education.  No money was budgeted for the new fund but having it established means the state can start raising money for Expanded Learning Opportunities through grants, donations and contributions.  Read more on the Vermont Afterschool blog.

Maryland

Early this month Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake began fulfilling her campaign promise to double afterschool funding by announcing $4.7 million in additional funds for afterschool programs in the city.  The Maryland Out of School Time Network worked closely with a number of state and local partners to build support for the funding. These funds will support community based organizations including Associated Black Charities, the Family League of Baltimore and the Baltimore City Community Schools’ afterschool initiatives.  Rawlings-Blake stated the recent uptick in violence in the city following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody makes investing in young people and keeping them safe in the hours after school more important than ever. Read more on the Baltimore Sun website.

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learn more about: State Policy
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JUN
26

POLICY
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FY16 appropriations update: Urge Congress to support afterschool and summer learning programs

By Erik Peterson

This has been a busy week for House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Quick on the heels of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee mark-up of their FY2015 spending bill last week, the equivalent subcommittee in the Senate marked up their own version of the bill that sets funding levels for all federal education, human service, health and labor programs. The full Appropriations Committee in the House and Senate followed next, passing their respective bills on straight partisan votes Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Due to tight spending caps set earlier this year, both bills include significant cuts to education and other programs that provide necessary supports to children and working families. With regard to key federal efforts that support afterschool and summer learning programs provided by local school-community partnerships, the House LHHS bill funds the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative at the FY2015 level of $1.152 billion, while the Senate bill cuts 21st CCLC by $117 million, about 10 percent of current funding levels. If the Senate bill were to become law, between 117,000 and 175,000 children would lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs next year.

The Senate LHHS bill proposes to fund the U.S. Department of Education and its federal education programs to the tune of $65.5 billion, a $1.7 billion cut from FY2015. Both bills also eliminate a number of key education programs, with more than 20 programs getting the axe in the House bill and ten meeting the same fate in the Senate bill, including Investing in Innovation, Carol M. White PEP grants and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.

In addition to the cut to 21st CCLC, the Senate bill decreases funding levels for School Improvement Grants by $56 million and Promise Neighborhoods by $20 million. Increases are proposed for Title I for low-income students which can be used to provide afterschool and summer learning programs ($150 million increase), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ($125 million increase) and charter schools ($20 million increase). With regard to non-education programs that support afterschool programs for children, the bill increases the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) by $150 million, but cuts AmeriCorps funding by 20 percent. Some key differences between the House and Senate LHHS bills are listed below:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUN
25

RESEARCH
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Social-emotional learning heats up

By Jen Rinehart

Along with the soaring temperatures of summer, June brought a focus on the importance of social-emotional learning and the role of afterschool in supporting skills and mindsets like collaboration, responsible decision making, problem solving, citizenship and resilience. 

The Afterschool Alliance participated in a convening led by the National Afterschool Association in mid-June that focused on the landscape of social-emotional learning in afterschool and summer programs and how the afterschool field can better articulate its important role in supporting social-emotional learning.

It was an inspiring conversation, with several national providers highlighting their efforts in this area and researchers highlighting the growing evidence base showing how critical social-emotional learning is for youth success.

That meeting was followed by the release of The Wallace Foundation-funded Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework, which makes a research-driven case that successful youth development requires both academic and social-emotional learning. It illustrates how learning is shaped by children’s interactions with the world and the adults around them, and how they make meaning of their experiences. 

With the social-emotional learning conversation heating up, now is a great time for afterschool providers to tell their social-emotional learning story—how do you support social-emotional learning in your afterschool and summer program and what help do you need in order to keep up that work and to talk to stakeholders about the importance of social-emotional learning?

You can be a part of the social-emotional learning conversation today by completing this brief survey. As a thank you for your time, you'll be entered to win one of four $50 Amazon gift cards. 

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Youth Development
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JUN
24

RESEARCH
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Learning and development: It's academic and much more

By Jen Rinehart

A new Wallace Foundation funded report, Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework, pulls together decades of research from across a number of fields to illustrate that children need more than academic knowledge alone to succeed in life.  

The developmental framework highlights four foundational components – (1) self-regulation, (2) knowledge and skills, (3) mindsets and (4) values – and describes how these components are essential to success and are shaped by each young person’s developmental experiences and relationships in multiple settings,  including home, school and organized activities, like afterschool and summer learning programs.   

The report also emphasizes how the foundational components interact to affect learning and development and how ineffective it is to target only one component in isolation.  As a former teacher with a master’s degree in human development and a long history of working in the afterschool field, I was especially drawn to this excerpt highlighting how a narrow focus on content knowledge in isolation actually undermines learning and development:

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learn more about: Youth Development
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JUN
24

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 24, 2015

By Luci Manning

Louisiana Afterschool Programs Not Meeting Demand, Survey Says (Alexandria Town Talk, Louisiana)

Parents across Louisiana are having trouble finding afterschool and summer learning programs for their kids, according to the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM survey. By extending the day during the school year and into the summer, quality programs supplement what schools already provide and help augment student learning, United Way of Central Louisiana president and CEO David Britt said. Many area programs are already doing a good job, but Louisiana needs more high-quality programs to meet demand. "The community has got to step up and help," Britt told the Alexandria Town Talk. "There's more the community can do to align learning with what schools already are doing and have a big impact on student learning."

Valley Organization Connects Families with Affordable Summer Camps (KPHO, Arizona)

With summer camp season in full swing, many parents are struggling to find places for their children to spend summer vacation. "We see far more families expressing interest in having their children enrolled in summer programs than are actually able to participate now," Afterschool Alliance vice president of research and policy Jen Rinehart told KPHO. To fill the gap, groups like the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence are working to place children in affordable summer learning programs that provide a safe place, positive relationships and learning opportunities.

Letter: Summer Learning Is Important (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Washington)

Afterschool Ambassador Brent Cummings penned a letter to the editor of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin touting the benefits of local summer learning programs: “At Walla Walla Public Schools’ 21st Century summer programs, children get a heavy dose of exercise for both the mind and brain, giving kids opportunities for fun, interactive learning such as robotics camps, building drones and quad-copters, creating movies and TV shows, programming and testing self-created video games, and designing and 3-D printing board game pieces…. On behalf of all our students and their families, please spread the word about the importance of high quality, accessible summer learning programs.”

Letter: Summer Fun Benefits (Kansas City Star, Missouri)

Afterschool Ambassador Kim Chappelow-Lee wrote a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star about how her summer learning program improves students’ physical health and academic abilities: “Keeping minds and bodies engaged during the summer goes a long way toward avoiding what researchers call summer learning loss…. At the Johnson County Park & Recreation District, children get plenty of exercise, which fuels both body and brain, along with opportunities for fun interactive learning, including: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), gardening, field trips, community service, environmental education, social interaction and lots of fresh air. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough programs to go around.”

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JUN
22

IN THE FIELD
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Project Play: A playbook to get every kid in the game

By Lindsay Damiano

Project Play, a report and initiative created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Aspen Institute, and other advocates for children’s health, explores ways to engage more kids in physical activity. “A playbook to get every kid in the game,” Project Play provides ways that communities can come together to fight the decline of kids’ participation in sports.

The National PTA Conference, taking place this Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers a perfect opportunity to share the problem addressed and the tools suggested in the Project Play report with parents, teachers, and other friends of afterschool. The report finds that fewer than half of children ages 6 to 11 are engaging in the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day, in part due to a decline in participation in team sports. Project Play finds that household income is the largest determinant of a child’s access and participation in programs – children living in low-income households are about half as likely to participate in sports as children from wealthier homes, the report finds. Afterschool programs help to fill that gap and keep all kids active through play. On a typical day in an afterschool program, 67 percent of kids are physically active for 30+ minutes. Project Play aims to make 100 percent of kids able, confident, and wanting to be active by age 12, and everyone is a part of their strategy.

  • For parents: Join a local sport board and promote inclusive policies to increase all kids’ access. Support your local afterschool programs, where children can learn and play sports in a fun, non-competitive environment.
  • For teachers and administrators: Commit to providing recess and daily physical education, and explore expanding access to intramurals and alternative sports. Grow efforts to open up your facilities during the non-school hours to community sport groups.
  • For other friends of afterschool: Advocate in your communities for open play time in gyms and fields, and turn the space over to kids. Donate your time and skills to help afterschool programs provide quality physical education and inclusive sports playing.

Afterschool plays a major role in keeping kids active. Let’s bring parents, teachers, and all other community leaders together to help America’s kids become active for life.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
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JUN
22

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool programs help Dad every weekday afternoon

By Lindsay Damiano

Father’s Day yesterday gave us all a special opportunity to tell our dads how important they are to us and how grateful we are for all they do. Dads often put in 110% for their kids, rushing to get them to school, to soccer practice, to Grandpa’s, to birthday parties… while also often working during the day. Afterschool programs give working parents peace of mind; our most recent America After 3PM survey found that 74 percent of parents agreed afterschool programs help them keep their jobs. A safe, engaging place for kids to go after school turns out to be a pretty great gift for Dad.

Unfortunately, not all parents are able to enroll their child in an afterschool program. Ten million kids participate in an afterschool program now, but the parents of another 19 million would enroll their child if there were a program available. That means that for every child able to participate, two more are waiting to get into a program. Dads and moms value these programs for keeping their kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and giving them peace of mind when they are at work.

Tell Congress that every parent deserves the benefits that universal afterschool access can provide. When parents across the country are putting in 110%, elected representatives should be giving their all to increase funding for afterschool. It supports working parents like the #1 Dad in your life.   

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