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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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FEB
23
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before"

By Guest Blogger

By Maya Irvine. 

Maya is a freshman at Camdenton High School and was named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador in the fall for the 2017-2018 school year. Maya has attended Camdenton FIRST LASER Robotics program for the past six years. Her blog post highlights the science, mathematics, technology, and engineering (STEM) learning opportunities available through the FIRST program and the experiences she's had as a member of the team.

With more than 460,000 students involved, more than $50 million in scholarship opportunities, and more than 120,000 volunteers worldwide, FIRST Robotics has a global impact on every individual involved.

Newcomers often ask, “Is FIRST Robotics like Battlebots?”

Short answer: nope! The FIRST program is exceedingly more than that. FIRST Robotics is a non-profit organization, with a mission to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders.” Most FIRST Robotics teams take place in an afterschool setting — along with the 250+ students involved in the LASER Robotics program.

I’ve been involved in the FIRST program for six years, from elementary to high school. It’s my first year on the high school team, and I am already involved in writing the Engineering Notebook (which documents the evolution of our team’s robot through daily entries), working with Safety (a group that protects and enforces the FIRST safety morals), and designing graphics.

FIRST robotics has evolved my interests. Before joining the program, my only outlook for the future was simple: I had no idea what I wanted to do. When FIRST came into my life, I realized that there are so many careers and opportunities for students just like me. What I enjoy most about FIRST is how diverse it is. When our team goes to compete, I get the chance to meet people I never would have been able to before, including teams from all over the world!

Participation in FIRST programs is shown to inspire young people to become leaders and innovators and pursue careers in STEM related fields. Students involved show greater interests in STEM, STEM careers, and 21st century skills. With science- and math-related careers reaching an all-time high demand, the need for people to fill these spots has hit its highest appeal rates.

Through the FIRST program, kids of all ages have the chance to be someone big. The only question is, what will the world look like with these new engineers and inventors unleashed?

FEB
22
2018

STEM
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What the FY19 budget request does, and doesn’t do, for STEM learning

By Stephanie Rodriguez

On February 12, the White House released its FY19 budget request. As expected, it reiterated much of the FY18 request, including deep cuts to and elimination of many discretionary programs. This year’s request was made more confusing due to the congressional budget deal reached just days before the WH FY19 budget request. Because that budget deal included a significant increase to both defense and non-defense budget caps, the administration released a budget addendum, which added back funds to many programs slated for reductions or eliminations before the deal was reached. While this addendum seems to benefit some science sectors, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is still a casualty of the FY19 budget request.

Money talks. Here's what it says.

Not only is the sole dedicated federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning proposed for elimination: the president’s request once again eliminates funding for grant programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act’s Title IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment) and Title II (Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders).

Together, these eliminations continue an assault on teaching and the development of well-rounded students. These cuts are particularly harmful to STEM learning, as these funds are often used to recruit and train educators in high-need fields and provide students experiential learning opportunities critical for active STEM engagement. How can we expect to effectively improve STEM and computer science education, which are stated administration priorities, while eliminating investments in teacher training and related support programs?

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learn more about: STEM Computer Science
FEB
21
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 21, 2018

By Luci Manning

For Camden Teens, ‘Black Panther’ Lives Up to the Hype (Courier Post, New Jersey)

Some 100 students from Camden area schools and afterschool programs were treated to an advance screening of the new ‘Black Panther’ film thanks to Campbell Soup Company’s Black Resource Group. “Giving kids here experiences they might not otherwise have, whether it’s a movie screening or a field trip outside Camden or within it, that’s part of our duty as citizens of Camden,” Campbell Soup’s director of community affairs Kim Fortunato told the Courier Post. “Highlighting success stories – for people of all backgrounds – reinforces the notion that any of us can succeed.”

North Heights Elementary Students Hone Their Fibbing Skills (Rome News-Tribune, Georgia)

For the past several months, 20 girls at North Heights Elementary School have been perfecting the fine art of storytelling in the ASPIRE afterschool program. The students will have a chance to show off their work in the Debby Brown Young Tales Storytelling and Writing Program at the 2018 Big Fibbers Storytelling festival. Telling their stories, which are all based on students’ real-life experiences, helps the girls develop their self-confidence public speaking skills. “I like this program because the kids get very involved,” North Heights teacher Felicia Hall told the Rome News-Tribune. “Lots of times, they don’t get to tell their stories and this gives them a chance.”

Living Life the Douglass Way (South Coast Today, Massachusetts)

In honor of African American History Month, the YMCA’s School Age Afterschool Program has been teaching its students about abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass through activities, presentations and discussions. The YMCA has collaborated with the New Bedford Historical Society to lead sessions on Douglass, in hopes that learning about his life and work, with a focus on literacy and communication, will inspire students to volunteer and lead in their communities, according to South Coast Today.

Flagler Students Learn the Importance of Handwashing (Daytona Beach News Journal, Florida)

A team from the education department at Florida Hospital Flagler visited Bunnell, Rymfire and Wadsworth elementary afterschool students recently to teach the youths about the importance of handwashing. During this particularly bad flu season, hospital staff believe that reaching out to students in the 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool programs can help reduce the spread of germs and prevent respiratory infections and diarrhea-related sicknesses, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal

FEB
20
2018

RESEARCH
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New research on easy, affordable SEL practices

By Nikki Yamashiro

As the prominence of social and emotional learning (SEL) to support students’ development in school and beyond continues to grow in education circles, challenges implementing SEL programming have also arisen. The latest issue brief in a series supported by The Wallace Foundation, Kernels of Practice for SEL: Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies, offers a valuable approach to lower barriers that programs may face when looking to incorporate SEL programming.

The issue brief delves into the approach of identifying “evidence-based prevention kernels,” which are low-cost, targeted strategies at a specific behavior. The authors of the brief posit that kernels have a stronger impact and are more feasible to implement than comprehensive programs, “potentially increasing initial uptake, impact, and sustainability over time.” For instance, one example authors give of a kernel is the practice of the “turtle technique,” where an adult uses the turtle metaphor to instruct a student to breathe in deeply to help calm down. This kernel maps to the SEL domain of managing emotions and behavior, as the technique can help reduce aggression.

What’s innovative about this issue brief is its focus on creating an accessible approach to SEL practice and recognizing afterschool and summer learning programs need flexibility in order to effectively incorporate SEL practices into their programming. By illustrating the way in which kernels can help programs tailor strategies and activities to best address the needs and goals of their students, the brief is a great example of using research to inform practice.

In addition to reading the full brief, you can take a look at Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, a guide that provides an in-depth look at 25 leading SEL programs and is what Kernels of Practice for SEL: Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies drew from to identify the kernels of practice.

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learn more about: Social and Emotional Learning
FEB
16
2018

IN THE FIELD
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From D.C. to Johannesburg, music makes STEM learning sing

By Charlotte Steinecke

“If you’re passionate about anything, there really is no limit to what you can do,” says Lemond Brown, president and CEO of Swaliga Foundation. “That passion is contagious. People want to know ‘Well, why are they so passionate about that? How can I have that same thing?’”

“Swaliga,” meaning “passion,” comes from the island of St. Martin. It’s the watchword for an innovative afterschool program in Washington, D.C., that connects youth with innovative education opportunities by uniting a love of music and arts with science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) learning.

Since opening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington in 2012, Swaliga Foundation has served more than 6,000 youth worldwide. In the next five years, they’re looking to connect with 1 million young people worldwide – a goal Brown and his team are passionate about.

“Our mission is to become the world’s premiere source for innovative youth education.”

How do you innovate youth education in the age of the iPhone? Swaliga Foundation aims to change the way young people use technology by making technology producers out of technology consumers. They teach the technological skills necessary to effect that transformation by tying them to the interests students already have—their passions for sound-mixing, composing music, shooting videos, and beyond.

FEB
15
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Former Ed Sec John B. King highlights educator superpower: We tell children they belong

By Jillian Luchner

Last week I attended a Title I Conference in Philadelphia. The “Title I” name may be as generic as they come, but it is one of the most important Titles in education policy.

The purpose of Title I, which was recently reauthorized in 2015 in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high quality education and to close educational achievement gaps.” To meet this goal the law includes federal funding that gets distributed to support lower income students and schools. Title I funding can be and is used effectively in schools and districts for quality afterschool programs as well as other efforts.

"The best antidote to oppression is education.”

Dr. John B. King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, and currently the president of The Education Trust served as the keynote on the conference’s first night. King remarked that education in the United States is in fact making progress. For example, scores on a nationwide standardized test (NAEP) continue to trend upward and graduation rates are increasing hitting a nation-wide high of 84% last year. However, he cautioned, we must be mindful of the gaps – such as those in which our higher income students achieve academically, graduate high school and complete college at much greater rates than our lower income students.

The same gaps are seen between white students and students of color, marking an especially salient fact in light of February being Black History Month. These academic gaps, Dr. King noted, are really a function of opportunity gaps.

King takes a dual approach to problem solving when confronting the opportunity gap. The first is to provide equitable resources in schools; for example, helping to incentivize the strongest teachers where they are most needed, investing in initiatives that have been shown to work to close gaps such as early education and Pre-K, and placing school counselors and advanced academic options in schools where they are limited. While not mentioned by King directly, access to high quality afterschool programs are another essential piece of this puzzle.

FEB
14
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 14, 2018

By Luci Manning

Henley Student Honored for After-School Program (Herald and News, Oregon)

High school sophomore Nicole Cleland was recently honored with a $1,000 donation from U.S. Cellular to put towards the innovative afterschool program she developed for elementary school students. Cleland’s program focuses on teaching students how STEM skills can be put to good use in the agricultural industry. “Nicole’s passion and commitment to educating young lives is truly inspiring,” U.S. Cellular director of sales in the northwest Erryn Andersen told the Herald and News. “She is setting an incredible example for her peers and community, and we are in awe of the selfless acts of good she’s doing here in Klamath Falls.”

Spur Would Connect Students to Swamp Rabbit (Greenville News, South Carolina)

The Greenville community is rallying to give youths in the afterschool Momentum Bike Club safe access to nearby biking trails. At the moment, students in the club ride on busy streets or cut through the woods to get to the trail, but nonprofit Bike Walk Greenville has arranged with the city to build a connecting trail to Lakeview Middle School if the organization manages to raise $100,000 by this summer. According to the Greenville News, the group has already raised more than $47,000 toward the project. “This is going to give safe access to lots of kids, as well as the adults that also live in that area,” Bike Walk Greenville board chair Tim Hibbard said.

Computer Science Students Mentor Youth (Scarlet and Black, Iowa)

Once a week, Grinnell College computer science students head to the Drake Community Library to give coding and computer programming lessons to local middle and high school students. The student-designed curriculum offers students the opportunity to learn different programming languages and work with 3-D printers and other equipment. The afterschool club has been so successful that it has spurred improvements in computer science education elsewhere in the community, according to the Scarlet and Black. “The code club at the library was successful, which helped get the school district to add a computer science class at the high school,” Drake systems administer Monique Shore said.

Alum Teaches Vocabulary Through Hip-Hop (Brown Daily Herald, Rhode Island)

Recent Brown University graduate Austin Martin developed a creative educational platform to help underperforming students learn vocabulary and academic concepts through the hip-hop music they know and love. “I wanted to combine my love for hip-hop and this idea… about the academic viability of hip-hop,” Martin said. “I wanted to bring that spark to kids across the country with ‘Rhymes with Reason.’” Martin’s research has shown that low-performing students who choose to learn through “Rhymes with Reason” eventually surpass their higher-performing classmates who study with flashcards, according to the Brown Daily Herald. The platform is now used in approximately 35 schools and afterschool programs around the country.

FEB
13
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Our hearts are broken

By Charlotte Steinecke

The Trump administration has zeroed out the budget for afterschool for the second year in the row. We're heartbroken by the news, but the budget battle isn't over yet and we're turning heartbreak into action.

This Valentine's Day, use the resources on the We Love Afterschool landing page to share a message with your representatives. In addition to the heartbreak .gif above, we have a .gif you can use to thank supportive representatives (find their handles here), a printable graphic for your students to illustrate, and a collection of plug-and-play sample social media you can adapt to your audience or use as-is!

We'll be watching the tag #IHeartAfterschool tomorrow, along with #AfterschoolWorks. And you can strike while the iron is hot—share your love of afterschool with your representatives in Congress and urge them to support funding for afterschool programs. 

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