How is your afterschool program creating opportunities for disadvantaged youth? There's still time to share your story!
The White House initiative My Brother's Keeper is focused on creating opportunities for boys and young men of color. To help the White House better understand the important role that afterschool programs are playing in supporting boys and young men of color, we've been gathering stories from the field to share with the White House. We may also ask you to share additional details in a guest blog or on a conference call or webinar.
A new report, released by the Department of Education and written by the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia, examined the impact afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs have on their students’ academic achievement and socio-emotional development. The report, “The effects of increased learning time on student academic and nonacademic outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review,” found that out-of-school-time programs, as well as full-day kindergarten programs, can have a positive effect on student participants, such as improving students’ academic motivation, self-confidence and self-management. Effects did vary by program and type of instruction, and the authors of the report conclude that the elements of a program—such as program instruction and focus, the types of students targeted, and staff—have an impact on student outcomes.
Authors of this report reviewed more than 7,000 studies, and out of the 7,000 identified 30 studies to analyze, with the goal of helping schools and school districts determine the types and features of afterschool programs best suited to their needs. After finding that out-of-school-time programs had mixed effects on student outcomes, researchers concluded:
By Jen Rinehart
New research from the 2014 edition of America After 3PM, the most comprehensive household survey of how students in America spend their after school hours, shows that summer learning programs are strongly supported by parents and that participation in summer learning programs is on the rise.
According to the survey of nearly 14,000 families:
- Eighty-six percent of parents indicate support for public funding for summer learning programs, a statistically significant increase of 3 percentage points over the already very strong support registered in 2009.
- One-third of families report at least one child participated in a summer learning program last summer, up from the 25 percent of families reporting at least one child participated when the survey was last conducted in 2009.
- Demand for summer learning programs for 2014 is high. More than half of families reported a desire to participate in a summer learning program this summer.
- Thirteen percent of families reported that summer programs were available to them at no cost in 2013. However, the vast majority of parents paid for programs and the average weekly per-child cost for a summer learning program was $250—high enough to put the programs out of the reach of many children and families.
By Luci Manning
Young Man Floundered Until a Cape Family Took a Chance (Cape Cod Times, Massachusetts)
Billy Cook-Warren, a 19 year old who recently graduated from Bourne High School and overcame many obstacles on his path to higher education, is excited to begin college this fall at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. After staying with various foster families, he finally found himself in the care of Trish and Rob Lubold, foster parents who believed and supported him. In addition to the support of his foster family, Billy credits his participation in the Boys & Girls Club of Cape Cod with keeping him engaged in learning. Billy told the Cape Cod Times, “I had a tough upbringing, and no kid should have to grow up like that. They need to pour a little more money into foster care and after-school programs. It’s not a hand out; it’s a hand up.”
Last weekend, the Loveland Stage Company Children’s Summer Theater brought a classic Dickens tale to the stage. Seventy students participated in the production of “Oliver,” taking on important roles both on and off the stage. Tammi Sanders, a mother whose two children performed, spoke highly of their involvement to the Cincinnati Enquirer, saying that “they learn to work with the other children, take direction, memorize lines, as well as choreography; just the whole processes is a learning experience.”
“This is awesome! I learned how to ride without training wheels, and now I have a brand-new bike!” exclaimed 7 year-old Key’Shon Holmes. Key’Shon is one of 160 students who received a bike after taking part in the YMCA’s afterschool program at Skelly Elementary School. The bicycles, helmets and bicycling education were gifts from local nonprofits. YMCA Summer Learning Institute Program Director Emma Sikich said the gift of the bicycles gives “these students an opportunity beyond the program – we hope it plants a seed for a new activity and physical development in families,” reports the Tulsa World.
By Luci Manning
Maria Ortiz, an Afterschool Ambassador and the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant director for Poudre School District, calls on parents, school systems, local and state governments and businesses to help students meet the need for summer learning opportunities across the country in a piece for the Coloradoan. She writes:
“Clearly, we need more summer learning programs, and just as clearly, the problem is funding them. Right now, the federal government provides some funding for summer learning, by way of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative — the principal federal funding stream for after-school programs. But the funding is insufficient to provide summer learning opportunities for all the kids who need them. Until we can find a way to fix that with contributions from parents, school systems, local and state governments, business, and individual donors, too many of our kids will spend more time with video games and remote controls than with all the wondrous opportunities that summer learning programs can offer them.”
In just one week, elementary school children participating in the Ashland Community and Technical College summer learning camp will have created more than 30 electronic devices including burglar alarms, night lights and police sirens. In this week’s camp the young students are learning theories behind various electrical components and are putting their knowledge to the test. Craig McDavid, the program’s instructor, told the Daily Independent the time he spent at this camp as a child motivated him to have a career in science and that he hopes these children are similarly inspired. He said that “this kind of hands-on learning is the best kind of learning. It’s what brings it home.”
Students at York Middle School’s (YMS) Summer Learning Academy are gaining some real world media experience and helping their community’s nonprofits in a big way. The students created commercials to help York Adopt-A-Pet and the Palmer Museum. Matt Maltsberger, YMS social studies and media productions teacher, told the York News-Times that summer learning programs allow students to have educational opportunities outside of the traditional classroom, “I think that getting kids in a different setting—a setting that lets them express themselves—is beneficial. It’s the ideal situation for great opportunities to learn.”
By Taylor Moore
Techbridge has recently released a free, online interactive toolkit to help potential role models develop skills to engage girls and underrepresented youth in STEM. The Role Models Matter Toolkit currently provides 10 mini-lessons for role models to help plan, structure and implement their visit with students. Each unit comes with a video showing role model Josetta Jones, a patent attorney and chemical engineer, in action demonstrating each step to successfully interacting and communicating the lessons to the student participants. The toolkit provides lessons on key topics like role model impact, ice breakers for relationship development, advice on using the engineering design process and guidance on how to connect the STEM experience to possible career options for the participants. If you have any potential STEM role models looking to engage with youth, their work can benefit from this holistic toolkit approach.
Techbridge is a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif., that offers science, engineering and technology-based afterschool and summer programs for girls. Since 2000, the organization has engaged with more than 4,000 girls in grades 5-12 in hands-on learning and career exploration. The Role Models Matter Toolkit is part of Techbridge’s Role Models Matter initiative to help prepare STEM professionals for outreach and is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation.
The Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) and the MacArthur Foundation have announced their fifth Digital Media and Learning Competition—the Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments. The Trust Challenge will award a total of $1.2 million—in $10,000 to $150,000 year-long development grants—to institutions and organizations that look to answer questions around trust, privacy, safety and learning in an open online world. Proposals will address questions such as:
- How can learners exercise control over who sees and uses their data?
- What tools do they need in order to navigate, collaborate and learn online with confidence?
- What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments?
- How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust?
Applications will be accepted Sept. 3 to Nov. 3, 2014.
Guest blog: Building collaboration among afterschool and school-day educators at the Next Steps Institute
By Taylor Moore
Emily Vercoe is the director of the Next Steps Institute, a professional development program of Earth Force. Earth Force engages young people as active citizens in their communities by providing educators with tools, relevant resources, and support to inspire the next generation. Prior to her current role, Emily developed expertise in formal and informal science and STEM through work with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, the Colorado Youth Program and the Boulder Valley School District.
The idea of partnerships is not a new one: we get by with a little help from our friends; it takes a village; many hands make light work. Phrases like these indicate the importance of building communities of support to achieve a common goal. At Earth Force, we believe the power of partnerships can create an enriching and interactive experience within STEM education. This is why this year’s Next Steps Institute (NSI) in Washington, D.C., will focus on Integrating STEM into Communities.