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JUL
21
2017

POLICY
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Afterschool shines in ESSA implementation hearing

By Erik Peterson

On July 18, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Education (HEW) convened a hearing entitled “ESSA Implementation: Exploring State and Local Reform Efforts.” The hearing focused on what states have done so far to develop their consolidated state accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and whether the federal government and the Department of Education (ED) need to do more or less to assist in their development and review.

A recurring theme of the hearing was the pending appropriations debate that would potentially shortchange a number of ESSA and education related programs. The hearing also included a robust conversation on supporting students through afterschool and summer learning programs, and Dr. Gail Pletnick, president of the State Superintendents Association (AASA), emphasized the point that afterschool programs are key investments in supporting student attendance and achievement and engaging students and parents in education.

JUL
21
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Recap: The Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition’s letter to Congress

By Julie Keller

In late June, the Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition sent a letter to the House and Senate Labor Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittees signed by 130 coalition members calling on the Subcommittee leadership to maintain or increase federal funding that promotes healthy childhood weight through support of before and after school, and summer learning programs focused on healthy eating and physical activity.

The letter highlighted the contradiction of the Trump administration’s claim that their FY2018 budget proposal would “prioritize the security and well-being of Americans” while simultaneously substantially decreasing or eliminating federal funding for out-of-school time programs that promote the health of our nation’s children.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness
JUL
20
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Lights On Afterschool registration opens today!

By Charlotte Steinecke

Get ready for a huge celebration—today is the official start of Lights On Afterschool! Registration opens today, so head over to the Lights On Afterschool site to tell us how your program is planning to join in the rally!

Last year’s Lights On Afterschool saw exactly 8,200 events held across the USA and the world, making it the brightest year ever. One million people joined together to shine a light on the amazing work that afterschool programs are doing to improve the lives of kids and families in their communities—and it’s more important than ever to share those stories across the country!

This year, we’re connecting programs with elected officials to show community leaders how afterschool works; amplifying the important work that out-of-school time programs do for kids’ health and wellness; showcasing the amazing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities in afterschool; and celebrating the partnerships between afterschool programs and libraries across the country. 

Here’s how you can get involved:

Start getting the word out today! Share your plans for this year's #LightsOnAfterschool, tell the world how #afterschoolworks, and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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learn more about: Lights On Afterschool
JUL
20
2017

POLICY
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House Appropriations Committee cuts afterschool by $191 million

By Erik Peterson

The full House Appropriations Committee met for a marathon mark up of the FY2018 education-funding bill on July 19, starting at 9:30 a.m. and lasting late into the evening. The FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Act sets funding levels for all federal education, human services, and health and labor programs—including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides federal funds leveraged by local school-community partnerships to provide quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

The Committee voted to approve the House LHHS FY2018 spending bill on a party line vote of 28 – 22. The bill includes a $191 million cut to 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool funding. The cut brings funding for local afterschool and summer learning programs below the current authorized level to the lowest level of federal afterschool funding since 2007 and means approximately 192,000 children could lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs next year. An updated table shows how the proposed cut to afterschool will be felt in all 50 states.

JUL
19
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: July 19, 2017

By Luci Manning

Don’t Miss Out on Many Portland Learning Programs That Combat ‘Summer Slide’ (Press Herald, Maine)

“Summer is an opportunity for students to enjoy long, lazy days of fun, relaxation and new experiences. But if learning isn’t a part of those experiences, students are at risk of the ‘summer slide.’ Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put youth at risk of falling behind in core academic subjects such as math and reading,” wrote Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana in the Press Herald in support of Summer Learning Day last week. He continued, “I am proud of the Portland Public Schools’ many partners, who are committed to working with us to ensure our students continue learning and thriving during the summer break.”

Letter: Worthy Reading Program on Chopping Block (Union-Bulletin, Washington)

A letter-to-the-editor in the Union-Bulletin from Walla Walla’s Sue Parish calls for continued funding for 21st Century Community Learning Programs “to give all our students a strong future.” She wrote: “This past week, the country celebrated National Summer Learning Day with events at learning programs for kids throughout the country. Luckily for our kids in Walla Walla, there are currently over 400 kids involved in amazing summer learning opportunities, at a multitude of different sites around town. Not only do these activities keep kids safe and engaged when school is out, but they keep students math and reading skills sharp, working to avoid the loss of skills that the student worked so hard to gain throughout the school year…. Sadly, the current administration’s budget proposes to eliminate all funding for this worthy program. Please stand up for all kids and urge our senators and representatives in Congress to reject this proposal, and instead protect funding for this program.”

Pint-Sized Ornithologists Work Towards Closing Achievement Gap In Pinellas County (WUSF, Florida)

Nearly 8,000 Pinellas County students are participating in Summer Bridge, a six-week summer learning program that is teaching students from Maximo Elementary School all about birds, including hands-on learning opportunities with field trips to Seaside Seabird Sanctuary. Shana Rafalski, Executive Director of Elementary Education for Pinellas County Schools, told WUSF that the district believes that the Summer Bridge program is worthwhile and valuable. She said, “We’ve got data that does support that children who attend do fare better as they enter into the new school year.”

Marilyn Mosby Invests in Youth, Community Engagement Amid Baltimore Violence (Baltimore Sun, Maryland)

Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby kicked off her Junior State's Attorney program recently, with a pinning at its opening ceremony. The six-week summer program takes young people on tours of various aspects of the criminal justice system, including meetings with Baltimore’s mayor and judges and a law school-style mock trial competition at the program’s end, the Baltimore Sun reports. This year, the program’s third, more students were accepted and the city’s YouthWorks program are paying teens to participate.

JUL
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Closing the achievement gap for Latino kids

By Guest Blogger

By Diego Uriburu, co-founder and executive director of Identity.

By age 16, Elam had been out of school for two years. Although he’d dropped out of school the first time, he knew he needed to turn his life around and that the best way to do that was to complete his education. Going back to school was extremely difficult, but that’s where Elam found Identity, an organization that provides afterschool programs for low-income Latino students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“I enrolled in school and worked hard, but my passion and my escape was soccer,” Elam says. “That’s how I first met Coach Efrain Viana, who came to school to recruit for the Identity league. What I liked immediately was that everyone got a chance and was treated like family. I wasn’t alone anymore. Identity pushed me to work hard in school as well as on the field, and to take every opportunity presented. Opportunities like college — Coach Efrain connected me with coaches at Washington Adventist University. I started last fall with a full scholarship.”

Elam’s story is just one of the examples of afterschool making a difference to the youth who need it most. But the futures of young people like Elam have been put in jeopardy as the administration moves to eliminate funding for afterschool programs.

JUL
18
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Julie Keller, our Health and Wellness Intern

By Julie Keller

Hey, y’all! I’m Julie Keller, the new Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Policy Intern at the Afterschool Alliance.

Within my role as the HEPA Policy Intern, I will be working with the director of health and wellness initiatives to advance state-level public policy and incorporate healthy eating and physical activity standards into out-of-school time programs. My past experience as a City Year AmeriCorps member and a Girls Inc. afterschool instructor gives me a unique perspective as I work on behalf of the out-of-school time community. I look forward to learning from the Afterschool Alliance team on the many ways to effectively support our youth at the national, state, and local level!

Throughout my childhood, I struggled with my health and lacked the education, resources, and opportunities to best take care of my mind and body. That experience cultivated my passion for the health promotion of youth and drove my college career at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to receiving my B.A. in Psychology, I pursued a certificate in Health and Wellness, developed and implemented weekly life and health skills trainings for the Health and Wellness Department volunteers, facilitated alcohol and drug safety seminars for incoming freshman, and managed data collection and analysis for the university’s wellness collaborative of more than 20 departments.  Although these roles afforded me practical skills and training within the public health sector, my dedication to advancing equitable out-of-school health and wellness opportunities is motivated by experiences with my students during my time as a City Year Corps member.

As I transition from direct service to advocacy, my students’ resilience and ambition will keep me grounded and committed to advocating for an increase of access to quality afterschool programming. I am ready to support out-of-school time and early childhood providers and organizations through the advancement of healthy eating and physical activity policy!

JUL
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Texas celebrates win for afterschool & summer programming

By Guest Blogger

By Alison Reis-Khanna is the Executive Director of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST) located in Austin, TX. As the leader of TXPOST, she is constantly advocating for all things afterschool including funding, data gathering, and improved quality. This is a blog on the legislation that passed during the 85th session in Texas on increased data collection of afterschool and summer programming.

The 85th Texas Legislative Session began with the release of a proposed budget that called for across the board cuts in general revenue spending. Substantial cuts were expected due to waning oil and gas prices and significant tax cuts passed during the 84th Legislative Session. Between the proposed budget cuts and the lack of bipartisan support, Texas politicos expected minimal legislation to be signed into law, and they were right.

The session ended with the lowest number of bills and resolutions passed during the previous 10 legislative sessions. Additionally, Governor Abbott was quick to use his veto power, vetoing 50 of the bills sent to his desk. This is the greatest use of veto power since 2007 in the state. From multiple perspectives, this session of the Texas legislature was unique and extremely challenging for many organizations and advocates.