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DEC
8
2017

STEM
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Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to become creators of technology, not just consumers, is a growing priority for afterschool programs across the country. Many are building from the ground up and running into issues like identifying technology, tools, and curricula to meet their goals. Additionally, it can be challenging to train and support facilitators—either afterschool educators or other community volunteers.

In our webinar on Wednesday, December 6, two inspiring speakers working on these issues presented insights and resources: Sarah Carter, from SciGirls, shared tips on choosing tools and developing curricula, and Ricarose Roque, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, shared her model for family engagement called Family Creative Learning. To get the full experience, watch the recording and view the presentation slides. Be sure to check out the hashtag #CSEdweek to see all the conversations happening on social media!

Getting clear on definitions and goals

There are a litany of terms used when talking about creating technology—"computer science," "coding" or "programming," "computing," "tech skills," "media literacy," and more! Our speakers told us that being specific and intentional about using these terms, particularly when defining your program’s focus and goals, is incredibly important. It is key to think about what’s most appropriate for the out-of-school time environment and ensure that we meet youth development or other philosophical goals.

For example, Sarah explained that the approach to her current project, SciGirls Code, is shaped by a blend of computational thinking and connected learning principles, and is founded on the SciGirls Seven, a set of research-based gender equity strategies. Ricarose has developed the concept of “Computational Creators”, which means the goal is for students is to be able to use computing to create things they care about, develop identities as creators, and see the ways they can shape the world. All educators should spend some time considering the vary approaches and frameworks out there to determine the best approach for their students and community needs.

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science Girls Webinars
DEC
7
2017

STEM
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Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

By Charlotte Steinecke

Keshia Ashe and a student at Tubman Elementary

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented communities in the STEM field.

In 2011, Keshia Ashe didn’t know she was starting a business. She just knew she saw a problem.

A graduate student at the time, Ashe was mentoring a group of tenth graders, many of whom were interested in pursuing medical school once they graduated. She reached out to friends in the field but kept hearing a familiar story.

“A lot of my friends said, ‘I can’t come, I’m busy, I don’t have the time to drive an hour to interface with the students,’” Ashe recalls. “At the time, Skype was really starting to gain some traction and not have so many technical difficulties, so my friends would Skype into the classroom to talk to the students. That’s really the nucleation site of ManyMentors. It was me trying to solve a problem with the students I was working directly with.”

ManyMentors is an organization that connects younger people to older people in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, using a hybrid strategy that combines face-to-face monthly mentoring meetings coordinated by onsite chapters with a mobile app that promotes sustained communication between mentors and mentees. In addition to more than 400 onsite mentors at six universities in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York, ManyMentors is opening a cohort of chapters in the D.C. region, with students from University of Maryland, Howard University, George Washington, George Mason University, and more.

DEC
6
2017

CHALLENGE
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 6, 2017

By Luci Manning

New Club Allows Urbandale Students to Use Lessons in the Real World (WHO, Iowa)

Urbandale High school senior Maya Sims wanted to make a difference in her community, so she created a new afterschool program focused on giving back. Hope in Action gives students the opportunity to participate in community service projects, like creating a free library in a local neighborhood and working with the Iowa Youth Homeless Center. “When we talk about spreading hope, what we are really talking about is social responsibility, and just recognizing we as human beings have the responsibility to take care of each other,” Sims told WHO.

Springfield Students Will Learn How to Talk to Computers in New Course (Springfield News-Sun, Ohio)

This month, the Career Connected Center’s Maker Space afterschool program is offering a course on computer coding and computer sciences based on the Hour of Code. The program will give students an advantage in future careers by teaching them about computation communication and the basics of how computers work. “We have different themes, and it teaches different concepts in the STEM field,” Career Connect ED program coordinator Rene Stratton told the Springfield News-Sun. “You need it in all aspects of life, whatever your job is.”

Dawson After-School Program Opens Christmas Store for Kids (WALB, Georgia)

The Positive Direction afterschool program got into the holiday spirit last Monday by opening its 13th Annual Spirit of Christmas store. Students in fourth grade and younger received up to three gifts from the event, and older students were given gift cards to spend on gifts during an upcoming field trip. The gifts were supplied by Toys “R” Us and local businesses. “They are so excited, in fact when they choose their gifts today they want to take them home right then, but we can't let them take them home. And for us, as well as the children, the impact it has made on us and the children, it is just phenomenal,” Executive Director Dorothy Tomlin told WALB

Mentoring Program for Former Foster Children Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary (KETV, Nebraska)

Foster teenagers and young adults are learning fundamental job skills and customer service as employees of The Bike Union and Coffee. The bike repair and coffee shop is a nonprofit providing health and wellness, mindfulness training, cooking classes, a book club and more for its young employees. Participants commit to working for one year with 20 hours of work and activities each week, all focused on how to live a successful life. “When they're finished, you'll notice a change. For example, when you first met at their interview, their posture was very sunken in and they didn't make a lot of eye contact. When they leave, they sit up straight and they look everyone in the eye,” program manager Curtis Wilson told KETV.

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learn more about: Computer Science In The News
DEC
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Los Angeles afterschool program builds 'a world fit for kids!'

By Matt Freeman

25 years ago, riots exploded in South Central Los Angeles in the wake of the acquittal of four police officers charged with beating a prostrate taxi driver named Rodney King. The event called attention to issues of race and economic inequities, one element of which was cutbacks in the L.A. school system that had resulted in the elimination of physical education and other programs.

From the ashes of the riot grew an innovative afterschool program called A World Fit for Kids! (WFIT), whose leaders were determined to give inner-city youth opportunities for physical fitness, wellness and self-esteem programming that had been lost to budget cuts. In the 25 years since, the program has touched the lives of more than 460,000 children and family members in the city, encouraging them to make healthy decisions over the course of their lives. Along the way, it has pioneered a research-based training model called Mentors in MotionSM that prepares high school “Coach-Mentors” to work with elementary and middle school children, helping both age groups achieve health and fitness goals and develop strategies for success in all aspects of their lives.

“We believe physical activity is a vital tool for personal growth,” says Normandie Nigh, the program’s CEO. “Traditional programs usually emphasize competitive sports and stand-alone recreational activities. But we take a more comprehensive approach, training our staff and Coach-Mentors to address the whole child by linking healthy bodies with healthy minds. We train them to help students increase their self-awareness, improve their capacity to self-manage, and take greater responsibility for the decisions they make.”

DEC
4
2017

FUNDING
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Up to $500 for creative programs from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

By Charlotte Steinecke

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply.

Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a multicultural portrait project, a school garden, a bookmaking workshop, and an intergenerational storytelling day. Find more inspiration at the great mini-grant program gallery!

To apply, head over to the How to Apply for a Mini-Grant page. Watch the instruction video, read through the do’s and don’ts, and complete your online application by March 31, 2018.

Learn more at the FAQ page.

Looking for more funding opportunities? Check out our revamped Afterschool Funding Database! We’ve added new features so you can see when an entry was last updated and when the deadline is closing, as well as a host of new grant opportunities.

DEC
1
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Philadelphia afterschool program uses martial arts to achieve social and emotional learning

By Guest Blogger

By Matt Freeman

“We’re in the business of developing healthy habits of mind and body,” says Dr. Salvatore Sandone, Sensei and CEO of the Zhang Sah Martial Arts. “So we surround our afterschool students with positive role models and work to develop a sense of resilience through social and emotional learning.”

The Philadelphia program puts heavy emphasis on physical exercise and fitness, carving out time for its K-8 students to play at a local park or playground, as well as learning and practicing the martial arts that are the core of the program’s curriculum. Zhang Sah operates at two locations, serving approximately 95 students from eight different schools at each. Children also get a healthy snack every afternoon and spend time doing homework.

The program takes its name from the Korean term for “brave scholar,” and its design embodies a philosophy that combines martial arts with youth development principles. Sandone says the program is structured to value equally the development of mind, body, and character. Instructors are trained to emphasize benevolence, courtesy, humility, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and stewardship. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
NOV
30
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Health & Wellness partners got communities active & moving during Lights On 2017

By Faith Savaiano

This year we were blown away with the number of Lights On Afterschool 2017 events that celebrated our official Health & Wellness theme through creative, educational activities that got kids active and learning about healthy habits. These events were great examples of everyday work that takes place in afterschool programs across the country, empowering students to be and feel healthier across many aspects of their lives.

There was no shortage of creative Health & Wellness-themed event ideas this year, including:

  • A climbing competition put on by After-School All Stars New York, which celebrated how health, nutrition, and determination can allow you to succeed in physical endeavors. Water, fruits, and healthy snacks were enjoyed by all at the event!
  • Healthy cooking demonstrations for the families at the 21st Century Community Learning Center program at Perrymont Elementary in Lynchburg, VA. The event was run in partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, and afterwards there was a “farmers’ market” where families could take home the produce and ingredients they saw in in the demonstration.
  • A “’Fall’ into Health & Wellness” event put on by the Boys & Girls Club of Rutherford County in Tennessee, which featured an anti-bullying rally, hula hoop and jump rope competition, zumba, smoothies, and glow-in-the-dark sports games!

Many of these events and programs wouldn’t exist without the help of our fantastic Lights On Afterschool Health & Wellness partners. We’re deeply appreciative for the work done by Voices for Healthy Kids, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Camp Fire USA, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Recreation and Park Association, and all of our other partners who work hard to ensure afterschool is a place where children are active and healthy!

NOV
29
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 29, 2017

By Luci Manning

Lynn Firefighter Do a Good Deed and Feed Local Kids Thanksgiving Meal (The Daily Item, Massachusetts)

300 Greg Neighborhood House afterschool students had the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with Lynn firefighters last Wednesday. Lynn Firefighters Local 739 has been hosting the annual meal since 2010, cooking up a traditional Thanksgiving meal and covering all the associated costs. The event is meant to bring the community together for the holiday and give the firefighters a chance to give back. “I think it’s (the meal) amazing because a lot of families don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and Gregg House gives an opportunity for kids to eat,” Gregg House member and middle schooler Janeyssi Morillo told The Daily Item.

Western Youth Network Celebrates Mentor Pairs with Thanksgiving Meal (The Mountain Times, North Carolina)

The Western Youth Network mentoring program celebrated its annual Thanksgiving feast earlier this month. The afterschool program, one of the largest of its kind in the state, pairs adult mentors and youths between the ages of six and 17 for weekly meetings where they spend quality time together. Students in the mentoring program often see improvements in academics and behavior and increase their desire to graduate from high school. “I think this organization is doing exceptional work for youth in this county who need a helping hand and need somebody to talk to,” Thanksgiving feast sponsor Billie Howell told The Mountain Times.

High School Mentors Help Dora Erickson Kids Learn (Idaho Falls Post Register, Idaho)

Compass High School students are volunteering to help Dora Erickson Elementary students with their studies through an afterschool program known as the Compass/Erickson interns program. The high schoolers serve as peer role models to the elementary students while providing academic support. The teachers at Dora Erickson benefit from the assistance, while youths learn leadership skills and receive homework help. “I really like helping them,” sophomore Nikki Ritter-Truxal told the Idaho Falls Post Register about being a mentor. “It’s fun just getting to help and making new friends seeing their excitement when they come back.”

New Tech Partnership Brings Coding, Drone Programming Classes to Memphis Kids (The Commercial Appeal, Tennessee)

Chandler Park is offering Memphis students free tech classes through a new partnership between computer science and mentoring non-profit CodeCrew and mobile tech facilities company Building Box. The courses are giving students of all ages a chance to explore robotics, coding, drone programming, 3D printing and more during afterschool hours. “This is an outstanding opportunity to help these kids learn more about technology and show them how they can use their imaginations to accomplish anything,” CodeCrew Executive Director Meka Egwuekwe told The Commercial Appeal.

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learn more about: In The News