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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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NOV
28
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Promising practices: EVOLUTIONS prepares students for college and careers

By Leah Silverberg

Afterschool programs across the country are working with students to prepare them for future jobs. Of programs focusing on high school students, we see students getting real-world job experiences in afterschool, including paid internships, professional development training, practice building skills they will need in the workforce, and exposure to colleges and possible future career pathways. One of the programs highlighted in our latest issue brief, Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool, Evoking Learning and Understanding Through Investigations in the Natural Sciences (EVOLUTIONS) does all of this and more with their students. While talking with the program’s manager of public and youth engagement, Andrea Motto, we were impressed not only with what EVOLUTIONS does with its students, but how. 

EVOLUTIONS is located in New Haven, Conn., and is a part of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. The program was created in 2005 in response to community focus groups identifying that the museum could do a better job engaging with the local community. As part of these focus groups, the community expressed that they did not view the museum as a resource that was accessible to them. Listening to these community concerns, EVOLUTIONS was born. By starting with youth, the museum could invest in bridging the gap, bringing youth into the museum in an attempt to increase community access.

NOV
27
2017

RESEARCH
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Experts weigh in on the value of afterschool

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last month, we saw afterschool programs across the country open their doors to host Lights On Afterschool events, providing a firsthand look at the broad array of fun, enriching, and engaging activities students take part in at the program and the vital role programs play in their community. A newly-released research report from RAND is a fantastic complement to Lights On Afterschool, offering a research-based look at The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs.

The principal takeaway from the report, which made possible in part by The Wallace Foundation, is that there are measurable benefits to students and families when participating in afterschool and summer learning programs — but the quality and intentionality of the program, as well as a student’s regular participation in the program, influences those benefits. 

Also of note in the report is that it calls attention to the nuanced issue of what is and is not measured in afterschool and summer learning programs when evaluating a program’s success. The authors find that some of the key benefits of afterschool (such as providing students with new and differing learning experiences, helping close the opportunity gap, and supporting parents) are rarely, if ever, measured.

NOV
27
2017

POLICY
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Continuing resolution or spending omnibus?: Afterschool federal funding update

By Erik Peterson

Dec. 8, 2017 Update: The House and Senate both passed a stop gap spending measure last night that keeps the federal government open and funded until December 22. Congress plans to use the additional weeks to strike a spending deal that will pave the way for a third temporary continuing resolution that will last into 2018. A final omnibus spending bill is expected in early 2018 that will fund the government through September 30, 2018.

While the process continues, more than 500 local, state, and national organizations came together last month to send a letter to Appropriators calling for full funding for 21st CCLC that supports local afterschool programs.  

As November ends, Congress has just 12 days before the expiration of the continuing resolution that is currently funding the government on December 8. While there is little time left before this deadline, negotiations continue between House and Senate leadership from both parties with the goal of striking a deal that will raise defense and non-defense spending caps paving the way for a FY 2018 omnibus spending bill.    

Earlier this month Senate Appropriations Committee chair Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) issued an official statement regarding the committee’s responsibility to fund the government, urging leadership and the White House to make a spending deal as soon as possible. However there are a number of barriers preventing a deal, including final agreement on top level defense and non-defense spending levels, whether to include a bipartisan healthcare subsidy package, funding for the border wall, an agreement on DACA, and other issues.

If Congress does not reach a spending deal this week, they are likely to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR), which would temporarily allow the government to remain open and operating at last year’s funding levels. Many members of Congress want to complete the FY 2018 spending package before the end of the calendar year, while other members – particularly members of the House Republican Study Committee – do not want to be pushed to vote on a final bill while also trying to pass a tax cut bill and another supplemental disaster relief bill by December 31, preferring that the next CR reach into the new year. Even without an extension, the present short-term CR could extend into late December or possibly into January or February, providing additional time to reach a deal. If Congress does not pass a temporary continuing resolution, the government will shut down.

If leadership can broker a spending deal, appropriators will then negotiate individual funding levels for each government program. 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding was set at $1.192 billion by the Senate earlier this fall; however the House has proposed $1.1 billion for Community Learning Centers. While final spending levels will most likely fall within that range, the lower level of $1.1 billion would mean almost 100,000 youth could lose access to programming.

Friends of afterschool can weigh in with Congress here about the importance of federal afterschool funding that provides support for local school and community based organizations that serve almost 1.8 million children.  

NOV
22
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: November 22, 2017

By Luci Manning

Program Helps Students Deal with Trauma, Stress at Home (Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada)

Nonprofit Healing Hearts’ afterschool program has made a big difference helping youths work through their stress, anger, anxiety and depression. The Teens in Action program addresses trauma and students’ emotional and mental issues by giving them an outlet for their frustration through fun activities, one-on-one counseling and group discussions. “A lot of them are broken, they don’t feel like they’re being listened to,” school counselor Annetta Bonner told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “They don’t feel like they’re loved; they don’t feel like anybody cares about them; they feel like they’re all alone. So we want to heal their hearts; we want to make them whole again.”

Big League Players Pitch in to Renovate Fields, Mentor Youth (Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Hawaii)

Three Major League Baseball players are getting their hands dirty to help children stay active by renovating the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s youth baseball fields. Through the nonprofit More Than A Game, which encourages professional athletes to pursue community service, the players have cleared out the overgrowth on the fields and will soon get to work repairing fences and replacing worn-out turf. “A lot of kids don’t have access to these opportunities,” Boston Red Sox infielder Mike Miller told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “It’s good to let them know there’s people out there rooting for them. I’ve seen kids take off with just a little bit of love.”

Marble Falls ACE Program Helps Students Become Better English Speakers through Writing (River Cities Daily Tribune, Texas)

Spanish-speaking students in the Marble Falls ACE afterschool program are not only learning to speak English, but also will soon write and publish their own books in their second language. ACE uses the Write Brain program to help students get a start writing their books by providing them with pre-illustrated pages on which to base their story. First, they will write a Spanish book as a team, then next semester they’ll work on their own English stories, getting a hang of the nuances of the language and building their confidence. “Seeing their name on the book, being an author, that’s going to mean a lot to them,” site coordinator Amanda Fulton told the River Cities Daily Tribune.

Students Explore Arts, Careers and Recreation with In Real Life (Mountain Xpress, North Carolina)

After a 2007 listening tour about how to address Asheville’s juvenile crime epidemic, the nonprofit Asheville City Schools Foundation developed Lights On After School: In Real Life (IRL) to give youths a safe, enriching place to spend their time once classes let out, according to Mountain Xpress. Students in the program can engage in dozens of activities like Latin dance, pottery, physical fitness and engineering, allowing them to explore their existing passions and discover new ones. The program serves 250 students at Asheville Middle School and is a result of a partnership with area businesses, nonprofits and volunteers. 

NOV
21
2017

LIGHTS ON
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STEM partners helped ignite curiosity during Lights On 2017

By Charlotte Steinecke

Afterschool STEM learning was one of our top themes for this year’s Lights On Afterschool, and with good reason. Afterschool programs provide an ideal space to connect kids to exciting, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences, helping them engage deeply with these concepts in fun, inspiring ways!

Lots of afterschool programs used STEM as a centerpiece in their Lights On events. Here are a few of the ways programs celebrated STEM on October 26:

  • Students got ready for blast-off at the Mississippi Library in Fridley, Minn., with an activity to build their own rockets. Students and families designed and constructed their out-of-this-world space shuttles with a combination of science and art skills, led by library and afterschool program staff.
  • kidscommons Children’s Museum in Columbus, Ind., offered free museum admission for families with children age pre-K through 6th grade, with science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities available throughout the museum.
  • Think Together Liberty Elementary in Victorville, Calif. held a family night with student-taught 30-minute activity rotations, so students and parents could participate in mad scientist STEM unit lessons, including making moldable goo, engineering and testing different paper airplane designs, and creating monsters out of pipe cleaners and other materials.

This year’s Lights On Afterschool wouldn’t have been the success it was without the help of our amazing STEM partners. We’d like to give a big thank-you to STAR_Net, Association of Science - Technology Centers (ASTC), National Girls Collaborative, WGBH, STEMfinity, 4-H National Youth Science Day, and everyone else in the STEM world who contributed to a fantastic celebration!

NOV
20
2017

STEM
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Using digital technology for outdoor exploration with PBS KIDS' PLUM LANDING

By Guest Blogger

By Brianne Keith, outreach project manager at WGBH Education.

For out-of-school time program leaders looking to get students outside more, it might seem counterintuitive to introduce digital media into their programming. After all, don’t kids already spend too much time in front of screens? Why use digital media when what you really want to do is get kids outdoors?

PLUM LANDING, the innovative PBS KIDS multimedia project that encourages children to explore the outdoors, has an answer to that question: Because digital media can actually enhance kids’ exploration of nature! The trick is creating media that actively engages kids, and harnesses the unique power of technology to inspire, teach, foster engagement, and turn it towards outdoor learning experiences.

WGBH, a leader in developing educational media for children, developed PLUM LANDING to help kids learn about the environment and inspire them to become caretakers of the planet. The project includes hands-on outdoor learning activities, games, videos, apps, and an online drawing tool and gallery where kids can share their ideas about nature—all designed to promote children’s active investigation of the world around them. The resources are NGSS-standards aligned and available for free on the PLUM LANDING website. Independent evaluation of the project showed that children who used PLUM LANDING were significantly more likely than those in a control group to show growth in their environmental science knowledge and interest in exploring the natural world.

​Building on the success of the program, WGBH has just released the PLUM LANDING Explore Outdoors Toolkit, a new set of materials designed to help kids and families in urban environments get outside, get moving, and get into nature. 

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learn more about: STEM Physical Activity
NOV
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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HEPA Success Story: DC SCORES

By Faith Savaiano

In 1994, a former school teacher in Washington, D.C., began an afterschool soccer program for 15 girls who had little to do after their school days. The teacher, Julie Kennedy, soon realized that the team relationships the girls built on the field translated well to other activities they could pursue during their afterschool time, such as slam poetry and community service. With that, the DC SCORES program was born, and now has been replicated in 12 cities across the United States and Canada.

DC SCORES afterschool programming implements a unique combination of competitive soccer, slam poetry, arts enrichment, and service learning on an alternating year-round schedule. According to the Chief Program Officer, Sean Hinkle, this holistic model combined with a focus on delivering a high-quality experience allows every student to define and achieve their own version of success through the program.

“The different ways that kids can connect with one another, trusted adult mentors, and with the bigger community really sets us apart [with] many different ways for kids to find success,” said Hinkle.

NOV
16
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Support healthy OST programs with this action center's state policy toolkits & funding

By Tiereny Lloyd

Voices for Healthy Kids®, an initiative of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, recently released an Out of School Time (OST) Campaign Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to empower OST advocates to take action in their communities and improve health of children in OST programs. Some features of the toolkit are new graphics, social media samples, fact sheets, messaging guides, and other resources. The toolkit can be downloaded here at no cost!

While you are downloading all the wonderful resources from the new toolkit, be sure to check out the open call for proposals to advance healthy eating and physical activity in your state.  This round of funding is specifically limited to proposals in the areas of the school health (physical activity/physical education, junk food marketing, wellness, ESSA, school food, and water), early care and education, and out-of-school-time policy levers. Applications must support the Voices for Healthy Kids OST Policy Lever: Pursue policy changes that require out-of-school time programs to integrate national healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) standards into recognition programs, accreditation programs, certifications, and rating systems.

The deadline for submission is fast approaching; all applications must be submitted by December 8, 2017 at 5 p.m. PST. Visit the grant portal to learn more!

Last but not least, be sure to join the movement! As the only online national network of people focusing on helping kids grow up at a healthy weight, the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center (formerly PreventObesity.com) is the place where leaders and organizations connect with hundreds of thousands of health and wellness supporters in advocacy efforts and policy implementation. The action center offers two pathways to membership; you can sign up as an individual leader or you can create an organization profile

If you have questions about any of the above resources, please be sure to give me a ping at tlloyd@afterschoolalliance.org, I look forward to hearing from you!