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OCT
17
2017

STEM
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New AYPF article: 3 steps to afterschool STEM success

By Leah Silverberg

When making the case for afterschool STEM, one point often pops up: STEM learning experiences teach kids essential skills for their futures in college and careers. But how does that skill-building actually happen? And what strategies should afterschool programs use to harness it?

A new article from the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) highlights afterschool STEM programs that focus on career and college exploration initiatives. As part of STEM Ready America compendium, which features more than 40 authors, “Career and College Exploration in Afterschool Programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” provides examples of afterschool and summer learning STEM programs that are preparing youth for their futures and supporting their engagement with the STEM field. Developed by STEM Next, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, STEM Ready America discusses the importance of access for quality STEM programs, the evidence behind these programs, and the partnerships that make STEM learning successful.

In the article, AYPF highlights the best practices of three afterschool and summer STEM programs that intentionally introduce students to STEM fields, prepare them to study or have a career in a STEM field, and build skills that will benefit them in the workforce. Looking at SHINE (Jim Thorpe, Pa.), EVOLUTIONS (New Haven, Conn.), and Project Exploration (Chicago, Ill.) AYPF concluded that successful programs:

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learn more about: STEM College and Career Readiness
OCT
16
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Meet Arielle Kahn, our new Special Assistant to the Executive Director

By Arielle Kahn

Hello! My name is Arielle Kahn and I am the new Special Assistant to the Executive Director at the Afterschool Alliance. I am so excited to channel my passion for educational equity into my work here at the Alliance. I firmly believe that quality afterschool experiences can put children on a path to success. I know that in my own experience, afterschool and extracurricular activities were most formative to my development. I was fortunate to participate in a variety of afterschool programs that shaped who I am today.

I graduated from Duke University last May, where I majored in Psychology, minored in Education, and completed the Child Policy Research certificate. My passion lies at the intersection of these three fields as they relate to the pressing issue of equity in educational opportunities. This issue has been important to me since my first internship experience, when I taught ten underserved elementary age students through a summer learning program run by the Children’s Defense Fund. The following summer I interned with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in the Healthy Schools Program to combat childhood obesity as an impediment to academic success. A year later I interned at the U.S. Department of Education where I worked on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.

As Special Assistant, I will provide administrative and program support to the Executive Director, as well as work on special projects. I am enthusiastic about learning more about nonprofit management. Most of all, I believe in the work of the Alliance and am proud to work for an organization that works tirelessly to secure greater opportunities for children every day.

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance
OCT
13
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Nominate a youth volunteer for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

By Charlotte Steinecke

For many middle and high school students, community service is a requirement for graduation—one that afterschool programs often assist with, giving students a chance to give back through volunteering, community beautification efforts, and tutoring younger students. As a result, afterschool programs often see young people going above and beyond the call to improve their communities!

Do you know an exemplary youth volunteer? Nominate them for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards!

State Honorees: Two students in each state and the District of Columbia will be named State Honorees and receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. with a parent or guardian for a recognition event from April 28 to May 1, 2018.

America’s top youth volunteers: In D.C., a national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Winners will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Distinguished finalists will receive bronze medallions and runners-up will receive Certificates of Excellence; local honorees will receive Certificates of Achievement.

Nominations run from now until November 7, 2017. To apply, complete the application and the student/parent agreement, then email or print and deliver instructions to your local certifier (school principal or head of a county 4-H organization, Girl Scout council, Americans Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or Affiliate of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network).

Best of luck to all applicants!

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learn more about: Competition Youth Development Awards
OCT
12
2017

LIGHTS ON
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Make the most of media at your Lights On Afterschool event

By Faith Savaiano

With Lights On Afterschool only two weeks away, many programs and coordinators are busy finalizing the creative and fun celebrations that will take place across the country. But while many afterschool providers are experts at planning engaging activities for large groups, all Lights On Afterschool events can stand to benefit from something that they might be less comfortable with: engaging the media. While the task of contacting media and news outlets sounds daunting, taking the time to publicize your Lights On event can be easy and contribute to an even more successful event.

Why should I reach out to my local media outlets?

One benefit of publicizing your Lights On event is obvious: more people will hear about it! Parents, educators, and relevant community figures that consume local media sources will be made aware of your event, which in turn will help drive buzz and boost attendance.

Furthermore, media coverage bolsters the reputation of your event; creating the precedent of a well-documented promotional push will help with event-planning in years to come as you try to attract more community partners and attention. Lights On Afterschool is a great time to build relationships with influential voices in the community; local media definitely count!  The connections you make this season can be pivotal players in future initiatives down the line.

OCT
11
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: October 11, 2017

By Luci Manning

Why Students Flip for Milton High’s Cirque-Inspired Classes (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia)

A unique elective at Milton High School is teaching students acrobatics and choreography based on the famous Cirque de Soleil circus performances after school. “My parents made me try out,” student Cole Dobbs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “At first, I was like, no way am I going to dance around on stage in silly costumes. But then I joined (the Cirque club) and I have loved it. It is extremely physically demanding and it’s my favorite part of the day.” The program is run by Larry Smith, a cirque and theatre teacher at Milton High School, whose goal for students is to work as a team while being creatively and physically challenged.

Afterschool Program Offers Assistance to Children of Farm Workers (Chico Enterprise-Record, California)

The MiCasa afterschool tutoring program boosts the academic abilities and confidence of children in the Farm Labor Housing Development who may have trouble with their English language skills. The program has seen a lot of success: MiCASA students typically score up to 20 points higher than other English learners and are in the top 10 percent of their class. “We are very proud of the children coming out of that camp because this is what America is all about; opportunity and creating constructive members of society who can communicate well and comport themselves well and contribute to society,” Butte County Housing Authority Director Ed Mayer told the Chico Enterprise-Record. The program was honored with the Agency Champion award from United Way of Northern California last month for its success.

Arkansan Who is Part Owner of Washington Nationals Uses Sport to Help Children (Arkansas Online, Arkansas)

The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy promotes sports-based skills that helps youth overcome poverty, improve their academics and more. “The objective is to really teach them life lessons through baseball,” Washington Nationals founding partner and Chairman of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy board of directors Rodney Slater told Arkansas Online. “We call them scholar-athletes because the emphasis is on scholarship. ... We also seek to positively impact their families as well.” Approximately 15,000 participants have been drawn to the thousands of events hosted since the Academy’s opening.

From Recycling to Stacking Books, Elementary School Students Lend Their 'Helping Hands' (Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee)

Helping Hands is a new afterschool program at Kid’s Place Sequoyah that teaches students about community and citizenship. Kindergarteners through fifth graders take part in community service activities like helping teachers at school and sorting through recyclables, showing students that it’s important to give back and serve others. Students “understand that regardless of your background, you might need some help one day… and that helping others is a part of life,” Kid’s Place at Sequoyah Director Dana Gamby told the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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learn more about: In The News Special Populations
OCT
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Success Story: Girls on the Run

By Faith Savaiano

Twenty years ago in Charlotte, N.C., a young woman began the first Girls On the Run (GOTR) team as an individual effort. But when the program was covered in Runner’s World, a running-focused magazine, the demand for this girls-specific running program exploded. Today, GOTR has more than 200 councils across all 50 states, serving more than 200,000 girls each year.

The program’s rapid growth presented the young organization with the challenge and opportunity to develop a more structured curriculum, according to Dr. Heather Pressley, senior vice president of mission advancement.

“The team at headquarters realized that the organic growth was great but it was very fast, [and] we needed to look into the quality and consistency of the program across sites where it was being offered,” Pressley said. “We took the original concept of building confidence through running and created an intentional curriculum with measurable physical, social, emotional, and life skills outcomes.”

OCT
9
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Students harness healthy habits at Camp Fire Wise KidsĀ®

By Tiereny Lloyd

For the students and staff of Camp Fire Wise Kids® afterschool programs in and around Dallas, Texas, health is all about balance. By emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet and of balancing “energy in” and “energy out,” staff hope to empower children to make a lifetime’s worth of healthy and wise choices.

Like other Camp Fire programs across the nation, the Wise Kids program relies on the “Thrive{ology}” framework. Described as a “research-based, measurable approach to youth development,” Camp Fire developed the approach in partnership with the California-based Thrive Foundation for Youth. It comprises four components:

  1. Helping children identify their “sparks” – that is, their interests and passions
  2. Guiding them to adopt a “growth” mindset – the belief that they can learn new skills all the time
  3. Urging them to set and manage goals for themselves
  4. Encouraging them to reflect on what they’ve done and accomplished

Camp Fire Lone Star layers its Wise Kids framework over the health and physical education standards written into the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards issued by the state’s department of education. The health and physical education standards are generally in line with the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards developed by the National AfterSchool Association.

OCT
6
2017

RESEARCH
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New report from the Wallace Foundation: Strategies to scale up

By Nikki Yamashiro

The question of how to scale up—taking a successful program, project, or policy and growing it to expand its reach and therefore its impact—has been an important one when thinking about systems change. It is a key component in efforts to make sustainable, positive social gains; a subject highly relevant to the afterschool field. Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, the study, “Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs: Pathways, Partnerships and Fidelity,” takes a close look at the strategic decisions made by 45 programs—ranging in focus from education to the environment—that helped them expand their reach and bring their services to a greater number of people. Key takeaways from the report include:

Pathways, partnerships, and fidelity. The three interrelated strategic choices common to scale up efforts are:

  1. Pathways - the decision of how to scale
  2. Partnerships - whom to partner with and how
  3. Fidelity - how a scale up effort does or does not change or adapt as new partners or communities implement the scale up

Partnerships are critical in scaling up efforts. While funders were identified as core partners by almost all of the programs included in the study, partnerships provided scaling up efforts more than funding. From consultation expertise to volunteers and from infrastructure to implementation, the programs reviewed relied on the support of their partners.

Find the right balance. Finding the right balance between program fidelity and adaptation can help ensure that the scaling up effort is meeting the needs of the community while at the same time maintaining its effectiveness.