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JUN
30
2016

POLICY
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New House bill gives career and technical education a modern upgrade

By Jillian Luchner

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act”, a bipartisan bill updating Perkins career and technical education (CTE) legislation, which was last authorized in 2006. The proposed update includes many positive changes that recognize and support the work afterschool and summer providers are doing to help students enter the workforce prepared and ready for well-paid, in-demand careers.

Main tenets of the bipartisan bill

The 2016 legislation focuses on providing students with opportunities to pursue recognized postsecondary credentials that are aligned with the employment needs of the surrounding economy, especially in high-skill, high-wage careers.

The bill is friendly to afterschool in many areas. The bill recognizes the important role that afterschool plays in planning CTE offerings and the benefits of including community-based partners as active participants in that planning. The bill language includes community based organizations explicitly as eligible entities (capable of receiving funding). Afterschool is at the table!

The bill also allows career exploration and other activities to be allowable starting as early as the 5th grade (the previous limit was 7th grade). The bill supports STEM learning for underrepresented students, and career pathways for non-traditional careers, such as girls in computer science. The bill draws out the role of competency based education (digital badges, for example) in local CTE programs. The bill continues to mention the importance of employability skills, many of which overlap with social and emotional learning. And the bill also establishes an “Innovation Grant Program,” which reserves 25 percent of an initial $7.5 million allocation for specific programs, including partnerships with non-profits.

The bill is still heavily focused on a tripod of secondary education, post-secondary institutions, and businesses as the main players, however. This focus means that entities that do not fall into these three categories must ask to get a seat at the planning table. These entities include community-based programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (which will include workforce development as an allowable use when the Every Student Succeeds Act goes into effect next year), and other afterschool and summer providers working on employability skills and career pathways. As these entities are eligible for funding, this ask should not be too difficult. Additionally, groups that serve out of school or at-risk youth often are included, so the avenues for becoming involved in the planning process are many.

While the House has completed its proposal for revising the CTE law, the Senate has yet to unveil its plan, and the road to enactment isn’t entirely clear, given that legislators are about to leave Washington, D.C. until September. As a result of this timetable, there is still time for feedback and modification. Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the House bill. Talking with your state CTE state director is another way to learn more about the current law and develop relationships around the work you are doing to prepare students for excellent, in-demand careers.

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learn more about: Academic Enrichment Youth Development
JUN
29
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool and law enforcement: Partners in keeping kids and communities safe

By Erin Murphy

The Afterschool Alliance is excited to announce a new blog series focusing on law enforcement and afterschool partnerships! As juvenile justice reform gains more attention from the afterschool field, this series highlights how afterschool and law enforcement are partnering to keep kids out of jail and strengthen communities. Throughout the rest of the year, we will be sharing themed blogs that highlight many aspects of these partnerships, such as motivations for partnering, building relationships, highlights from city-systems, outcomes and recommendations for getting started. Additionally, we will share stories from some of our favorite partnerships as part of the Afterschool Spotlight series

In this first blog of the series, we will go deep on one component of many afterschool programs: mentoring. While common in many programs, mentoring seems to be especially prevalent in programs that focus on fostering stronger police & youth relations. Last week, the U.S. Senate law enforcement caucus recognized the importance of mentoring by hosting a Congressional briefing on youth mentoring. The goal was to discuss the role law enforcement can play in mentoring youth and share examples of law enforcement initiatives that have led to successful youth mentoring programs in their communities.

Three individuals with on-the-ground experience in developing these programs shared their knowledge and insight:

Chief Jim BueermannPresidentPolice Foundation. While working at the Redlands Police Department, Chief Bueermann developed a mentoring program that supported high schoolers in exploring law enforcement careers and becoming officers.

Donald NorthcrossFounderOK Program. Northcross developed the OK program in 1990 while working as a Deputy Sheriff at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. This is a mentoring and leadership program where law enforcement officers partner with African-American men to support African-American boys.

Orrin WhiteAssistant Director of Community Engagement, United Way of DelawareInspired by challenges African-American youth faced throughout Delaware, White initiated We are the Why. This program allowed youth to work with officers to learn about law enforcement, discuss issues in their communities, and develop ways to improve law enforcement-community relations.

These speakers shared their knowledge and experiences related to program development and gaining community support. and the amazing outcomes these programs provide students, officers and their community. They also highlighted outcomes of their partnerships and provided recommendations for building and maintaining strong partnerships. 

"These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth."

Outcomes

  • The most significant outcome of these programs was the development of relationships between participating youth and law enforcement. These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth. Northcross shared how relationships transformed through the OK program. “At the beginning there is tension in the room when officers enter, but by the end youth are high-fiving and hugging officers.”
  • Both youth and officers gained new insight on how to interact in the community to reduce misunderstanding and distrust. White emphasized this, stating, “it’s important that officers are able to see how they are perceived by the community and learn from this.”
  • In established programs, youth participants are graduating high school and giving back to their communities directly—with many youth even becoming officers themselves.
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learn more about: Working Families Community Partners
JUN
29
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: June 29, 2016

By Luci Manning

Young Filmmakers ‘Make a Difference’ (NorthJersey.com, New Jersey)

George Washington Middle School students received the red carpet treatment at the eighth annual Make a Difference Film Festival last week. Students in the school’s afterschool club created nine short films to enter in the festival, each of which focused on the event’s making-a-difference theme. Representatives from the student newspaper took paparazzi photos and conducted red carpet interviews, and some of the non-actors even stood in as security guards. “Students ran the whole thing because it makes them feel empowered that they have an important role in a major project the school does,” sixth grade social studies teacher and festival organizer Mary Lou Handy told NorthJersey.com.

Domi, FAMU DRS Partner for Tech Program (Tallahassee Democrat, Florida)

Community-based startup incubator Domi Station has partnered with Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School to bring a computer science afterschool program to students on Tallahassee’s south side. The program is modeled after a program in Melbourne, using code cracking and the Minecraft game to get students interested in a future in technology. The ultimate goal, according to Domi community manager Lucas Lindsey, is to increase diversity in entrepreneurship and tech. “It’s become clear that we need to create opportunities for people in all parts of our community,” Lindsey told the Tallahassee Democrat.

D’Addario Foundation Brings String Music Back to Copiague (Newsday, New York)

The Long Island Lesson Program has brought string instrument music instruction back to the Copiague School District for the first time in 30 years. Thanks to the nonprofit D’Addario Foundation, about 20 students are receiving 6 hours of after school cello, viola and violin lessons, learning about responsibility, dedication and perseverance at the same time. “We really believe that music has the extraordinary ability to improve their cognitive and social development,” D’Addario Foundation executive director Suzanne D’Addario Brouder told Newsday.

Editorial: A Better Prescription for Helping Sacramento’s Kids (Sacramento Bee, California)

The Sacramento Bee editorial board argues for more dedicated funding for summer learning programs: “Try as Sacramento City Council members might, they just can’t seem to cobble together enough money to consistently fund programs for kids…. Going forward, the City Council must make it a priority to carve out a bigger, more reliable source of funding…. Currently, the city spends only about 1 percent of its general fund on youth programs. Such activities to keep teens busy, particularly in the idle days of summer, are important for Sacramento. After all, according to some accounts, violent crime is rising faster here than in many cities across the country…. It’s time to make Sacramento youths a priority.”

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learn more about: Media Outreach Science Arts
JUN
28
2016

POLICY
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Gains in Summer Meals, but work remains

By Erik Peterson

With summer 2016 in full swing, summer learning programs are again gearing up, and more than just minds will be filled before school starts up again in the fall. Once again, millions of children will receive meals through the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meals program: ensuring that kids are nourished and healthy while they explore, learn and grow this summer.

Earlier this month, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released its latest Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation report, finding that summer nutrition programs nationally saw a modest increase of 11,000 participants from July 2014 to 2015. These numbers come after three years of significant program growth. According to the report, on an average day in July 2015, summer nutrition programs served lunch to nearly 3.2 million children across the country, equaling 15.8 low-income children participating for every 100 that receive a free or reduced-price lunch. The report again points to the challenges that summer learning programs face in operating the Summer Meals program and the barriers to participation for many families. 

One way to improve these numbers, according to the FRAC report, is through Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation currently being debated by Congress. The Afterschool Alliance supports a key proposal that can be included in the legislation, streamlining meal programs by allowing sponsors to provide food year-round, rather than in two separate programs during the school year and summer.

Summer learning providers are also a key player in boosting participation in the program. Currently it is too early to see how the numbers will translate to Summer 2016, but this is the time to build momentum. To find smart strategies for closing the hunger gap and increasing participation in summer meal programs, check out the USDA’s wide range of new and updated materials to make summer learning and summer meals better than ever in 2016.

JUN
27
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Guest Blog: Celebrate Park and Recreation Month this #SuperJuly!

By Robert Abare

Written by Kellie May, Senior Program Manager for the National Recreation and Park Association

Park and Recreation Month is almost here! The annual monthly celebration encourages all people to get out and experience the benefits of parks and recreation: from health and wellness to conservation efforts and everything in between.

This year, Park and Recreation Month occurs during #SuperJuly, a celebration of the super heroes and super powers of parks and recreation. We’ve had a lot of fun planning this July’s activities, because it’s not hard to find all of the ways in which parks and recreation acts like a community super hero. From protecting our environment to providing safe places for all people to come together and get healthy, parks and recreation does a lot.

Partners like you help us make Park and Recreation Month a success and we hope you can help us as we encourage everyone to get out and experience the benefits of their local parks and recreation this July. Here’s how:

There is even more information available at the National Recreation and Park Association website. Feel free to download, print, share and use any of the materials and to tag us in any of your social media posts with the hashtags #SuperJuly, or post a selfie as you celebrate next month with #SuperParkSelfie. 

Sample Tweets for National Park and Recreation Month

  • Join @NRPA_News this July in celebrating the super powers of parks and recreation for Park & Rec Month! #SuperJuly http://ow.ly/NCA6U
  • Join the Park and Rec Brigade and find your super powers at your park this July. #SuperJuly http://ow.ly/XHfZ3016OcU
  • Show @NRPA_News your #SuperParkSelfie! Join in the photo contest for a chance to win a $500 gift card! www.nrpa.org/July-Contest #SuperJuly
JUN
24
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Celebrate National Summer Learning Day on July 14, 2016!

By Robert Abare

Summer is here! Although school is out, summer learning programs are making sure kids are continuing to learn new things, make academic strides, and stay physically active. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) encourages communities across the country to celebrate the importance of summer learning programs on National Summer Learning Day: July 14, 2016. Visit the NSLA website to find an event near you, register your event to appear on a national map of Summer Learning day events, or explore summer learning resources for families or communities.

New book makes the case that Summers Matter

The founder of the NSLA, Matthew Boulay, PhD, helped kick off this year’s National Summer Learning Day with the release of a new book, Summers Matter: 10 Things Every Parent, Teacher, & Principal Should Know About June, July, & August. The book is the first to explore the “summer learning gap,” or the challenge of providing educational and engaging activities for kids during the summer months when school is out.

"How do we keep our children safe and supervised when schools are closed but adults still have to work? How do we preserve the academic gains that children achieved during the school year?” asks Boulay. “The good news is that researchers have quietly amassed a mountain of evidence documenting why summers matter and what we can do as parents and educators to help our children during the months when schools are closed.”

Summers Matter translates the most compelling research into accessible tips and guidance for parents and school leaders on how they can integrate summer learning programs into their communities, regardless of income or access. Proceeds from the book support the NSLA.

Boulay added, “We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what our children do during their summers has a long-term and significant impact on their academic achievement and life chances."

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Summer Learning
JUN
23
2016

STEM
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Guest Blog: Eight tips for facilitating maker activities with youth

By Erin Murphy

By Emily McLeod, Director of Curriculum at Techbridge, with contributions from Mia Shaw, Dolores Toledo, and Renny Talianchich, all Program Coordinators.

At Techbridge, making is a big part of the afterschool and summer STEM programming we deliver to more than 600 girls from underserved communities in the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about what high-quality making looks like and what staff can do to ensure that all participants are engaged and learning. Here’s our eight best practices for facilitating maker activities with youth.

1. Take time to build a community of makers

It is essential to take the time to create a culture and supportive space where it’s OK try new things, ask for help when you need it, and dream big. At the beginning of our Summer Academy, girls decided together what they wanted their community to look like. Every day, there were icebreakers and get-to-know-you activities, a practice we carry over into our afterschool programs.

2. Encourage youth choice

Youth are more invested in projects when they have ownership and seeing their own ideas come to life is a strong motivator. Youth choice also fosters equity, empowering youth to bring in their expertise, background, and personal interests. Therefore, most of our projects give youth meaningful choices about the direction they will take their work. In our high school programs, girls spend much of the year building projects of their own design to take to the local Maker Faire. With younger students, we often start with a prompt, concept, or design challenge (e.g. “make a robot that can interact with humans”) which provides focus, while allowing room for creativity.

3. Build peer and near-peer leadership

Taking on the role of an expert helps empower youth. To develop peer leadership, identify participants with more experience and actively encourage them to support their peers and share knowledge. During our Summer Academy, we invited girls from Techbridge’s high school programs to act as group leaders for middle school participants. This allowed older girls to develop leadership skills, provided younger girls role models and support, and gave program coordinators assistance in facilitating complex projects. You can try this model with college students as well!

4. Acknowledge challenges and focus on process, not product

Making can be challenging and projects may not turn out the way we intended. Acknowledge this! We make time to share our “Glorious Goofs” and talk about girls’ work as prototyping, rather than setting an expectation of creating polished products. Our facilitators encourage girls to think about the skills they are gaining, and the ideas they are developing, as the most important things they’ll take away from the project. For more information about addressing and reframing failure, see this blog post and this paper.

5. Share models and your own making experiences

We often share samples made by facilitators or girls in other programs. Youth love to see and play with physical examples, which can spark ideas for those who may be struggling to get started. If you can, make a variety of models; we’ve found that if there’s just one kind, youth may be tempted to copy it. Making models ahead of time also gives facilitators direct experience with the project and can help them see potential challenges youth might face and develop troubleshooting strategies.

6. Don’t forget aesthetics

Although Making encompasses a variety of interests and skills, the spotlight is often turned on projects that are tech-heavy, with focus on function over form. These projects don’t always appeal to everyone. For some youth, the way a project looks is just as important as what it does, and we make sure to build in time for visual design alongside the coding and engineering. Although it’s tempting to think of art-making or decoration as things to do if there’s extra time, for some youth, it can be the difference between engaging wholeheartedly with a project and tuning out.

7. You won’t know everything and that’s OK

Sometimes, youth will ask questions that facilitators don't know how to answer or ask for help with something they don't know how to fix. That's OK. We take a co-learning approach to our maker projects, and are upfront about the fact that we don’t have all of the answers. In these situations, model how a maker should address challenges—ask a peer; use a variety of resources (e.g., online guides, role models, fellow staff members, books); or be willing to try something that might not work. Taking risks and being vulnerable shows youth that it’s OK for them to do the same.

8. Celebrate successes along the way and share with others

You can help youth celebrate all kinds of success, not just completed projects. Use opportunities such as group shout-outs, gallery walks, and one-on-one feedback to appreciate youth for their progress along the way. At the end of a project, give youth opportunities to share their work through presentations to peers, at a science fair, or family event. It teaches them how to communicate with others and act as STEM experts within their own communities.

JUN
23
2016

POLICY
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Who are "opportunity youth," and why do they need targeted support?

By Jillian Luchner

photo by Ryan Aréstegui

Research tells us that the human brain doesn’t fully develop from its youth into its adult version until about age 24. This knowledge adds an important perspective to the modern focus on early childhood education as an essential component of child development. The prolonged growth of the human brain is a clear indicator that older children—especially those who may not have enjoyed quality care early in their lives—also deserve targeted support, and that programs that help these children are critically important.

Investing in "opportunity youth" is a win-win

There are currently about 6.7 million "opportunity youth" across the United States, or youth between age 16 and 24 who are disengaged from school and work (sometimes called "disconnected youth"). The Opportunity Index provides the number of these youth in each state, among other relevant statistics. Estimates place the tax loss of these outside-the-workforce youth to be $11.3 billion annually. Additionally, these youth disproportionately increase costs associated with crime, health and welfare, creating an estimated social cost burden of $37,000 per youth per year. Appropriate support for these youth can help reduce hefty societal costs while expanding options for these youth: a win-win situation.

The federal government is taking strides to support older youth development, especially focusing on opportunity youth. The 2014 reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, formerly WIA), which encompasses workforce opportunities for all ages, provides funds to help older youth ages 14-24 engage in productive careers, and targets 75 percent of those youth funds to opportunity youth. The law contains an additional requirement that 20 percent of these funds be spent connecting youth to internships and work experience. Skills USA reports that 64 percent of youth make their career decisions based on their own experience and interests.

Also included in WIOA law is an innovative “Pay for Success” provision, based off the expectation of high economic returns associated with helping opportunity youth. The provision allows local workforce boards to allot 10 percent of their funding to programs in which government, non-profit, and for-profit entities take on the costs of helping these youth. These entities are reimbursed or provided with a performance bonus when they achieve an agreed upon outcome or measure of success, like a number of months of continuous, full-time employment.

Afterschool or summer learning program providers who already support at-risk youth should consider obtaining support via WIOA, through either the regular program model or pay-for-success model. WIOA funds can also be used to support certain populations of in-school youth. Community agencies and savvy programs can often “braid” funds between various youth dollars, such as those from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), as well as those from private investments, foundations, and local business. Performance Partnership Pilots provides an additional means of serving these youth through facilitating combining funding streams. WIOA provides $2.6 billion in state formula grants, and youth funds of about $830 million.

To see what opportunities may be available, you can connect with your local workforce investment or workforce development boards, the state and local decision-making bodies responsible for the use of WIOA funds. The boards in your area can be found by searching here.