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JAN
18
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Promising practices: EPIC program introduces youth to rural employment opportunities

By Leah Silverberg

In 2014, a unique partnership formed between the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, The City After-School Program, and the Kansas Enrichment Network to introduce students to career pathways in Salina, Kans. Career opportunities can seem limited for many students growing up in rural communities but in Salina, many jobs go unfilled.

After the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of local businesses, it recognized an existing need to fill certain jobs in the community. As part of the Chamber's long-term goal to support and sustain the workforce in Salina, the Chamber decided to focus on building the skills of Salina-area students. To start, the Chamber partnered with the Kansas Enrichment Network, the State’s afterschool network to support and expand access to out-of-school time learning. From there, Education Practice and Immersion for Credit (EPIC) was created to connect middle school students to career opportunities in Salina, in the hope that they will choose to pursue a career pathway in Salina in the future.

Over the past three years, EPIC has been piloted through The City, an afterschool program located at the local teen center. Using a digital badging system, each unit of EPIC focuses on an industry within Salina identified by the Chamber of Commerce survey as an industry of growth.

"The goal of the badges," said Eric Brown, former member of the Chamber of Commerce and founder of EPIC, "is to build hope, enthusiasm, and understanding of career exploration: what they [students] like and don’t like, and try to introduce career and college opportunities in junior high."

JAN
17
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 17, 2018

By Luci Manning

Students Learn How to Create Meals with Sparse Resources (Tahlequah Daily Press, Oklahoma)

A Hulbert High School senior is helping her peers learn to cook delicious, creative meals through Kayla’s Teen Cooking Club. Kayla Rooster runs the club through the Hulbert Community Library, working with fellow students to prepare everything from cupcakes to pizza grilled-cheese sandwiches, emphasizing how to prepare tasty food without fancy resources. “I feel like people my age need to be more educated on cooking,” Rooster told the Tahlequah Daily Press. “That’s why people should come here. It’s a great way to learn how to make really neat food, be around your friends and enjoy yourself.”

Middle-School Girls Learn to Lead Via Improv After-School Program (Youth Today)

An afterschool improv program in Queens is doing more than just teaching girls to be funny and creative – it’s teaching them how to be leaders. Funny Girls helps middle-schoolers improve their self-awareness, empathy, collaboration, resiliency and agency, all skills that the program’s parent organization, the Harnisch Foundation, sees as essential to effective leadership. The program gives girls the chance to develop these skills in a safe space where they can experiment and make mistakes. “Funny Girls is an opportunity and an outlet to express themselves in ways they didn’t think they could,” Global Kids director of middle school programs Lisalee Ibenez told Youth Today.

Gwinnett Resident’s Sewing Studio Teaches Confidence, Pride and Skills (Gwinnett Daily Post, Georgia)

Lifelong sewing aficionado Courtenay Christian recently opened her own studio, where she shares her love for the craft with teens and preteens through afterschool classes. Lessons at her studio, Threaded from Heaven, are geared for children ages eight and up, and teach students how to measure, follow patterns and think creatively. “Sewing gives kids so much more than just what they sewed,” Christian told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “It makes you work with your cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, concentration and things of that nature. But you also see this sense of accomplishment in the kids when they’ve sewed something and the pressure is off from the school environment.”

PeacePlayers Strive for Equality On, Off Court (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

A conflict resolution-focused basketball program started in South Africa is helping mend police-community relations in Baltimore. Through PeacePlayers International, city police officers serve as volunteer basketball coaches to elementary and middle school students, helping the youths improve their game while serving as mentors. The program teaches students to resolve conflicts peacefully and gives them lessons in leadership and self-awareness that they can apply off the court. “We teach them how to be leaders, how to have responsibility, how to resolve conflicts,” detective Joseph Bannerman told the Baltimore Sun. “To watch them grasp those concepts and use them… while on the basketball court, but also in the classrooms and in the community, that’s the ultimate goal. To be better citizens and better kids.”

JAN
16
2018

FUNDING
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Tips for applying to the New York Life Foundation’s 2018 Aim High Grants

By Dan Gilbert

We here at the Afterschool Alliance are once again excited by the opportunity to administer the New York Life Foundation’s incredible Aim High Grant Program. For those of you who may not be aware, the Aim High program is part of the New York Life Foundation’s ongoing investment in middle school OST programs to help economically disadvantaged eighth-graders reach ninth grade on time.

Last May, the foundation gave out grants to 18 out-of-school programs serving middle-school age youth, with their total investment totaling $750,000. Because they were so impressed with the incredible number of high-quality applicants to last year’s Aim High grants, the foundation has generously decided to almost double the total amount that they will be giving out this year to $1.35 million spread across 26 grants. The Aim High Grant Program is targeted towards afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs that serve disadvantaged middle school-aged youth, with a particular focus on supporting youth as they make the difficult transition from middle school to high school. The grant program also includes ten 1-year, $15,000 grants that are specifically focused on helping programs to better support youth with disabilities or other special needs.

Over the years, the Afterschool Alliance team has learned a lot about what makes for the strongest applications for funding opportunities like this, and what pitfalls it is important for applicants to avoid. Last week, we hosted a webinar to help you learn more about this incredible new grant opportunity and give insights into the application strategies that are most likely to make your application stand out from the crowd.

The grant application period doesn’t close until Friday, January 26, so there’s still time to put together a great application! Below you can find some tips on how to put together the best application possible, and some reminders and resources that you may find helpful when preparing your application:

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity
JAN
12
2018

POLICY
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New Year, new budget, same federal spending quagmire

By Erik Peterson

In less than ten days, Congress will again face a deadline to address FY 2018 federal funding. The third continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress in late December is scheduled to expire at midnight on January 19, 2018, and a way forward through the impasse has not yet emerged. While Congressional leadership from both parties and both chambers continue to meet with the administration to craft a new budget deal, the likelihood of a government shutdown later this month increases as every day goes by, and federal spending levels for a wide array of functions, including afterschool program support to local communities, remain uncertain. Additionally, the kick-off to the FY 2019 spending process is quickly approaching with the Trump administration expected to present their new budget proposal on or around February 5, 2018.

Several scenarios remain possible later this month:

  • A deal could be reached (see the main barriers to reaching a deal discussed below), securing topline funding levels and a final omnibus spending bill. A fourth CT would be needed, however, going into mid-to-late February to give appropriators enough time to write the omnibus bill.
  • No deal is reached, but enough agreement is found to pass another short-term CR to allow negotiations to continue.
  • No deal is reached and a government shutdown takes place until agreement can be found.
JAN
11
2018

IN THE FIELD
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"I wanted to create something ... that shared the power and impact of my afterschool program"

By Guest Blogger

By Kaleb Robertson.

Kaleb is a senior at Green Bay West High School and was recently named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador for 2016-17 by the Afterschool Alliance. He has been attending the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay afterschool program for more than five years. This letter outlines his experiences in this program and how they have influenced his path and future successes.

I originally came to the Boys and Girls Club because I had friends who attended. While I initially thought it was just a place to hang out, I quickly learned that the Club had a lot more to offer afterschool and in the summer. Caring staff who serve as mentors, leadership development opportunities, and future planning are just a few of the benefits I have been able to experience. None of these things would have been possible for me if not for my afterschool program.

One of the first programs I joined was the Be Great: Graduate program. ‘Be Great’ is a program that matches a teen with a staff member or ‘graduation coach’. My coach, Greg, has made sure that I have kept good grades and stay safe. He’s someone I know I can talk to, even though he is my formal mentor. And there are lots of other Club staff who have helped me along the way. I am comfortable knowing that whenever I come to the Club, there is always someone I can go to for guidance, support, and advice.

The Club also has great leadership opportunities, including the Keystone Club. Keystone is a program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and practice leadership and community service. Keystone members complete and document service hours, organize fundraisers, and serve as leaders within the Club, even helping to make decisions that impact other kids. I became involved with Keystone since I started coming to Club, and have served as the Keystone President. I even got to attend the National Keystone Conference in 2016!

Besides being a leader, the Club has also helped realize and plan my future. Ms. Tori, the Club’s Graduation Specialist, has helped me stay on track and get my college applications done. Along with helping me plan financially how to stay afloat with my money and pointing me towards many scholarship opportunities, she has also coordinated several campus visits so I have a better idea of what I’m looking for in a college.

For my Youth Ambassador project, I wanted to create something that I could give to people that shared the power and impact my afterschool program has had on me. I will be taking pictures of programs around the Club and turning them into a photo storybook. This way I will not only be able to tell my story to people, but also leave a copy of it behind for them to share with others. 

My afterschool experience has been nothing short of transformational. It has helped me stay on track to graduate and also helped me to realize what my future can look like. Every kid should be able to access the same opportunities that I have. Afterschool programs make a difference!

JAN
10
2018

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 10, 2018

By Luci Manning

Harvard Law Grad Helps Low-Income Students Aim High (Christian Science Monitor)

A Queens-based afterschool program is helping low-income students apply to and prepare for elite higher education. Legal Outreach offers writing courses, SAT prep and workshops, and even helps get students placed in summer internships with prestigious law firms. “For our kids, going to college is as different as going to another country,” co-director Bethsheba Cooper said. “Knowing what’s coming and having the tools to deal with it allows them to navigate this new world.” Once they get into college, Legal Outreach students typically outperform their peers, with some 93 percent of students graduating within six years compared to 18 percent of students from comparable high schools, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Cunningham Students Learn How to Rap through Hip-Hop Literacy Program (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa)

Ten fourth-graders at Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence are improving their writing, researching and public speaking skills through a hip-hop literacy program. The students work in groups to conceptualize and write a rap, with each person composing their own stanza, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Students have already had the opportunity to turn their ideas into a reality by recording their songs at the Teknitions studio in downtown Waterloo.

Red Bank's Community School Marks One-Year Anniversary (Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessee)

Hamilton County’s first community school marked its one-year anniversary this week, celebrating its successful efforts to provide wraparound services to students and parents. Red Bank Community School houses afterschool programs, academic help, parent engagement and community partnerships. “Schools can’t do it alone,” principal Ellen Harper told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Students need support outside the classroom in order to thrive. Education is a community effort and a community responsibility.”  

Alley to celebrate 20 years (Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas)

The Alley afterschool program opened its doors in 1997 after the shooting death of teen Justin Mercado and intended to give young people a safe space to spend their afternoons. Twenty years later, the nonprofit has afterschool programming four days a week for middle school students, offering activities ranging from cooking classes to discussions with community leaders. “It’s been amazing to be here and watch kids who needed something and someone and see them change for the better,” board member Monica Astorga told the Dodge City Daily Globe. “You would see kids come in here with their heads hanging low and by the time they leave here and become adults, their head is held high.” 

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learn more about: Arts Community Schools Older Youth
JAN
9
2018

FUNDING
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New grant opp: Start a physical activity program with GO! Grants

By Charlotte Steinecke

Get your students active in the new year with a GO! Grant. Launched in 2015 through a partnership between PHIT America, KIDS in the GAME, and the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, GO! Grants are available for all schools, grades K-12, who wish to add a more robust physical activity component to their programming.

These grants offer equipment and registration or activation of a physical activity program for your school. You’ll be asked to rate the five programs in order of your preference to participate. Here are the possibilities:

  • HOPSports Brain Breaks®: Recipients will receive two registration activations to utilize the HOPSports Brain Breaks® platform.
  • Morning Mile: Recipients will receive a full start up pack to activate Morning Mile at their school.
  • STEM Soccer: Recipients will receive one full STEM Soccer package.
  • USAMiniVolley: Recipients will receive Minivolley kit.
  • USTA Net Generation: Recipients will receive access to their suite of teaching and promotional tools, starter kits with curriculum and Net Generation gear, and event opportunities.

Want to learn more? Check out the FAQ to learn more about the five-minute application process. The deadline for applications is Monday, January 15. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Physical Activity
JAN
8
2018

IN THE FIELD
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How to make afterschool health and wellness resolutions a reality

By Tiereny Lloyd

At the beginning of each year, most of us set personal goals that we would like to accomplish. Although the list of New Year’s resolutions vary from person to person, eating better and exercising more are two of the most popular resolutions we make. As we start the year, let’s not only resolve to make healthier choices for ourselves but to also commit to creating heathier learning environments for our children. 

Since out-of-school-time programs provide a host of supports for students, finding an effective, easy-to-implement healthy eating and physical activity strategy can be somewhat challenging. To that end, here are a few tips to help you improve the health and wellness of students in your programs.

Set clear, individualized, and achievable goals

Start with the end in mind by identifying clear, achievable goals that are specific to your program. When developing goals, keep in mind that they should be measurable, budget-aware, and suited to your staff capacity. A good resource to establish appropriate physical activity and nutrition program goals are the National AfterSchool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. Remember, you don’t have to achieve every standard at once or in one year. Take your time and go at a pace that makes sense for your program.